Wed | Aug 12, 2020

Wheatley didn’t disclose Deer family link – report

Published:Friday | July 3, 2020 | 12:33 AM

Embattled St Catherine South Central Member of Parliament Dr Andrew Wheatley on Wednesday denied “wrongdoing or dishonesty” in the wake of a damning report from the Integrity Commission that referred the former minister to the director of corruption prosecutions for possible criminal sanctions.

The director of investigation at the corruption oversight body said that Wheatley was “dishonest in his representations concerning Ms Sophia Deer and whether he sought to mislead and did mislead the director of investigation”.

Deer is the principal of Homestead Primary School, which is located in the St Catherine South Central constituency in which Wheatley is the member of parliament. She also sat on several boards within the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology when Wheatley was minister.

There was, however, no credible evidence of nepotism, the report said.

In a statement, Wheatley charged that when he was interviewed by a member of the Integrity Commission, he was never asked about any “familial or historic link to Ms Deer. I was only asked about her competencies, ability to serve, and the capacity in which she served”.

However, extracts from pages 186-187 of the report tabled on Tuesday showed that Wheatley did not declare, in a hearing on March 4, 2019, that Deer was mother to his nephew when asked about Wheatley’s relationship or affiiation to her.

Chai rman: I am going to ask you now, Dr Wheatley, some specific names, and it is for you to indicate whether or not you have any relationship or affiliation and any other relationship with any of the following persons.

...

Chairman: Sophia Deer?

Wheatley: She was my technical assistant.

Chairman: Technical assistant? When you say technical assistant, an explanation?

Wheatley: She worked with me at th e ministry as my technical assistant – trying to recall her exact title. She worked with me at the ministry. I think that is the safest. I don’t recall right now her exact title at the time.

Chairman: Is she an educator?

Wheatley: She is also an educator.

Chairman: Principal of a school?

Wheatley: She was a principal of a school and she is now principal of another school. I am sure you are aware of that.

Chairman: Principal of Homestead Primary?

Wheatley: Yes.