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No sooner had the Governor Sir Adrian Johns informed former Chief Justice Derek Schofield that he was being dismissed – lawyers acting for the judge confirmed that an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights may be pursued.

In a brief note The Convent last night said that “Acting on the advice received from the Judicial Service Commission, HE The Governor, Sir Adrian Johns, has today carried out the removal by means of dismissal of Mr Justice Schofield from the office of Chief Justice.”

Significantly The Convent, clarifying the position, pointed out that the Governor acts on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission save that Section 57(3) of the Constitution provides that the Governor, with the prior approval of a Secretary of State, may disregard the advice of the Judicial Service Commission in any case where he judges that compliance with that advice would prejudice Her Majesty’s service. It added: “This is only intended to be used in the most exceptional circumstances, which do not obtain in this case.”

Meanwhile, lawyer Charles Gomez acting on instructions said “we are considering a referral to the European Court of Human Rights.” He added the observation that “there have already been comments expressed internationally in relation to the majority find.” This is a reference to the Privy Council finding of 4-3.

The Chronicle understands that the issue of a gratuity does not arise as under a previously negotiated arrangement that element of Mr Schofield’s package has already been expended in fees for education.

To date Mr Schofield had been suspended on full pay for over two years. His warrant expired when the Privy Council pronounced itself last week.

Mr Schofield had been offered an opportunity weeks before the July 2008 Tribunal hearings, shortly after the formal process headed by Lord Cullen commenced, to resign with a financial package which would have been equivalent to his working to retirement. He refused choosing to fight on his case instead.

19-11-2009 | by Dominique Searle - Gibraltar Chronicle | Published: Gibraltar Chronicle