11 Jan 2007

Solomons Government says former police commissioner had no contract

4:57 pm on 11 January 2007

The Solomons Government says the sacked former police commissioner, Shane Castles, had no formal contract.

The sacking, which bans Mr Castles from re-entering Solomon Islands, brought widespread criticism from Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

PacNews had earlier reported that Mr Castles believed the Solomons government was trying to destroy his credibility following a number of police investigations which included senior government members.

And he said it was the continuing probe into the suspended Attorney General, Julian Moti, which led to his constructive dismissal under the guise of an immigration ban.

Gillon Carruthers reports on the latest development.

"Pac News reports that the Solomons foreign minister, Patteson Oti, now claims the commissioner had no formal contract with the Solomon Islands government."

Mr Oti says he was appointed to the position on secondment from the Australian Federal Police under an exchange of letters between former Australian High Commissioner, Patrick Cole and the then Solomon Islands Minister of Police.

He says Mr Castles appointment was only for two years, effective from April, 2005, so his time would have been up in April this year.

Mr Oti also revealed that the current Solomon Islands government had for some time held serious reservations and concerns over the terms of Mr Castle's appointment; in particular, the indemnity clauses under which he served.

He says there's no precedent for such an arrangement where a police commissioner is exempted from constitutional and legal obligations which apply to every other citizen of the Solomon Islands, regardless of their position.

Mr Oti says says Mr Castles was effectively indemnified from any court action or even from appearing before a properly convened tribunal.

Mr Castles employment, he says, placed him above the constitutional laws of the Solomons and the government was not prepared to condone that.

Gillon Carruthers