HAMILTON, Bermuda, Tuesday June 6, 2017 – Eight months after Home Affairs Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin turned down a work permit application made by a London-born pastor, Reverend Nicholas Tweed, and the African Methodist Church where he preached, she has been ordered by the law courts to review her decision.
That’s the ruling Chief Justice Ian Kawaley handed down before a packed courtroom yesterday.
On October 21 last year, Gordon-Pamplin rejected Tweed’s work permit and upheld a decision in December declaring that his application was “incomplete” and riddled with inaccuracies.
Yesterday, the Chief Justice quashed that decision and also threw out an order mandating Tweed to settle his affairs and leave Bermuda.
The Chief Justice ruled that all matters be “remitted to the minister to be dealt with in accordance with the law.”
He did, however, indicate that he did not believe Gordon-Pamplin’s involvement in the application process from the outset was based on any idiosyncratic desire to “interfere”, but because her predecessor had directed that any future work permit applications in relation to Tweed should be decided by the minister.
“Subsequently, the Council of AME Churches was expressly told that its application was going to be considered by the board. In fact, the board only acted in an advisory capacity and the minister made the substantive decision. This legal and factual confusion infected the entire process which culminated in the minister refusing the applications from an advertising waiver and a work permit without the work permit application being considered on its merits,” Justice Kawaley ruled.
“This institutional bug caused procedural irregularity and unfairness which obliges this court to grant an order quashing the minister’s decisions to refuse the advertising waiver and the work permit application and remitting the matter to the minister for reconsideration.”
The judge ordered that the government should pay court costs.
In immediate response to the ruling, the Attorney General’s chambers said the minister would “reconsider the application in accordance with the relevant legal principles identified in the judgment”.