Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Peter Espeut | Questions for Trevor Forrest

Published:Friday | August 10, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Trevor Forrest, former chairman of Spectrum Management Authority who resigned in the wake of revelations he had improperly intervened in the recruitment process at the entity. File

Former chairman of the Spectrum Management Authority (SMA) Trevor Forrest has denied that the email exchange between himself and the former SMA managing director, Dr David McBean, is evidence of any wrongdoing on his part. According to Forrest, the reports, first published by The Gleaner, have given the false impression that he was seeking to subvert the recruitment process and have Carolyn Warren parachuted into the job.

The post of 'manager - administration' at the SMA was advertised with a deadline of August 19, 2016. Fifty-eight applications were received, from which five persons were shortlisted. Interviews were scheduled to take place on September 6, 2016.

Ten days after the application deadline had passed, Forrest wrote to McBean: "Please see that this rÈsumÈ is added to your shortlisted candidates for interview and consideration. If there are any questions, let me know." How can Forrest say that he was not seeking to subvert the recruitment process? Does he not understand the meanings of the words he uses?

McBean replied to Forrest: "I consulted both with internal HR (human resources) and also with the ministry, and, unfortunately, we cannot accommodate Ms Warren in this round for the following reasons: The closing date for the post has passed, and the application was not made by the normal route. A shortlist has already been compiled and is going to the second culling. An addition of a candidate at this stage would be highly irregular and would leave SMA open to an HR audit."

That should have been the end of the matter, and Forrest should have felt suitably chastened. But he was not done yet. He demanded that Dr McBean show him where it was written that he couldn't send in an application after the deadline had passed and where it said he couldn't insert someone into the shortlist for interviews. He asked to be sent "published, documented policies and procedures which expressly prevent this request. Until such time as that can be done, the request stands".

 

MORALS LACKING

 

Clearly, Trevor Forrest's moral and ethical formation is lacking; he sees nothing wrong with disadvantaging the other applicants who followed the correct procedure and using his influence in this way.

And so, Dr McBean sent him a copy of the SMA's Recruitment, Selection, and Staffing Policy, approved by the board of directors on November 29, 2012, which disallowed what he was trying to do. He then directed that the managing director "temporarily suspend the recruitment process and bring this matter to the board for discussion".

Forrest was determined that Carolyn Warren be interviewed for the post, no matter what company policy said or common decency demanded. He further stated that "it is clear that a review of this policy is necessary in light of the impasse that has been created" - the impasse that he created with his demands.

The matter was eventually referred to the Public Service Commission, and in the end, Warren was not included in the shortlisted persons for the SMA interview, but she was subsequently hired at an even higher level - as managing director of National Energy Solutions (NESol) in the same ministry. What was the process that led to her employment at NESol? Is anybody asking?

I was expecting (after all this) to hear that Warren was a special friend of his, but in his defence, Forrest made this amazing statement: "I had no knowledge of who Carolyn Warren was. We had never met, nor did I care if she was hired for the post. Her application was based on a referral which I received."

And so, the big question is: Whose friend was she? Who referred her application to Forrest? It must be someone quite high up for the board chairman to go to these great lengths. We need to know who it is for that person must be exposed and made to withdraw/resign.

Did the person who referred her application to Forrest know that she was a convicted felon but put her name forward anyway?

So many questions, and nobody asking them!

- Peter Espeut is a sociologist and development scientist. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com