Health

Wedderburn takes legal action

  • Fighting back: Tawanna Wedderburn, the former chief executive of the Bermuda Health Council (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The former chief executive of the Bermuda Health Council is to take legal action over her “termination”, she revealed yesterday.

Tawanna Wedderburn said she had asked for judicial review proceedings against David Burt, the Premier, Kim Wilson, the health minister, her former employers and Alicia Stovell-Washington, the chairwoman of the council.

Her 11-year career with the BHeC ended last December with what the health watchdog said was a “separation of employment”.

Ms Wedderburn said: “Since this all began, I have been bombarded on the streets of Bermuda with well wishes and inquiries about ‘the real story’.

“My e-mail box is overflowing with encouraging messages from as far away as the Caribbean, Europe and North America.

“Social media is rife with speculation about the political undertones of the case and who is really behind it.

“All this time, I have been silent. Until now.”

Ms Wedderburn added: “People from all over the world have reached out to me because the work that the health council does is important work, so people are watching that in other countries.”

Her departure from the council led to questions in the House of Assembly a week after it was announced.

Ms Wedderburn added that “there were a series of press releases from the BHeC and the ministry defending their respective positions on the matter” in January.

Her husband, Livingston, later released his account of what had happened and claimed she had been fired without warning.

A law firm acting for the BHeC said in January that Ms Wedderburn’s employment was “terminated lawfully by the council in full compliance with section 18(1)(b) of the Employment Act 2000, the Bermuda Health Council Act 2004 and her contract of employment which calls for one-month notice of termination”.

The BHeC lawyers added that Ms Wedderburn was paid for her notice period and offered six months pay and benefits “in good faith”.

Ms Wedderburn said she was grateful for all the messages of support she had received.

She added: “They have been what has sustained me.”

Ms Wedderburn said: “I ask everyone in Bermuda to watch the process and take an interest in how these matters unfold as I defer to our judicial system.

“I extend my sincere gratitude to everyone for their support and encouragement. It has given me the strength, focus and courage to get to this point.

“May we all benefit from the result.”

Lawyers for the BHeC and Dr Stovell-Washington said their clients had no comment as the matter was now the subject of legal proceedings.

The Government was contacted for a response.

Ricky Brathwaite, the BHeC’s director of health economics, was appointed acting chief executive after Ms Wedderburn was removed from her post.

Ms Wilson told the House of Assembly on Monday that the council was recruiting staff for several roles and the process would include filling the chief executive’s position.