A review of the government’s handling of the Dr Rosalind Ranson case has concluded that it acted in good faith.

Dr Rosalind Ranson was the island’s medical director in 2020 and 2021 but last year was awarded just under £3.2m by the island’s equality and employment tribunal, which found she had been unfairly dismissed for whistleblowing.

Following that decision, Richard Wright KC was appointed to conduct an independent review of the government’s management of the tribunal case including the decision by the Department of Health and Social Care’s decision to appeal –unsuccessfully – a tribunal order.

His review has cost £320,000 to date.

In his report, which was published today and will be laid before this month’s Tynwald sitting, Mr Wright concludes that he is satisfied that the defence of the litigation by the DHSC was conducted in good faith including the two appeals.

He said the decision to defend the claim was ‘legally justifiable’ and an ‘appropriate decision’ to make at the time.

But he found that there was a ‘clear conflict’ in the role of Kathryn Magson as then chief executive of the DHSC with responsibility for providing instructions to the Attorney General’s Chambers in defence of the claim and her role as the principal witness to the events at the heart of the litigation.

Mr Wright said: ‘The failure to identify that conflict and take steps to mitigate its effect contributed to the loss of the litigation and was a serious error.’

He said the Attorney General’s Chambers failed to appreciate the significance and complexity of Dr Ranson’s claim from the outset. ‘They also failed to grasp the potential for significant reputational damage arising from these proceedings for both the DHSC and the wider Isle of Man Government,’ he added.

Mr Wright found that the management of disclosure of documents by the Attorney General’s Chambers fell ‘far below’ the standards required – which was the single most significant factor in the negative outcome of the litigation from the perspective of the DHSC and which also had a significant effect upon Dr Ranson and her mental health.

But his review concludes that the DHSC did not, as Dr Ranson claimed, deliberately withhold documents or make selective disclosures for an improper purpose when conducting the disclosure exercise.

He notes that at the time of Dr Ranson’s claim, the DHSC had become something of a ‘revolving door’ Ministry.

The appointment of Rob Callister as Minister came at a crucial time and he faced an ‘uphill struggle getting to grips with litigation’.

Mr Callister was removed as DHSC Minister in November 2022 by the Chief Minister.

The DHSC lodged an appeal against an employment tribunal’s order, arguing that complying with it would require their lawyer to breach legal professional privilege.

In the absence of Mr Callister who was out of the department on official business, Chief Minister Alfred Cannan gave his opinion in an email that the DHSC should proceed – but he did not intend that to be a direction, notes the review report.

Mr Wright makes 24 recommendations into how claims should be managed in the future.

This includes the suggestion for formal system for triage of all Claims to ensure that an appropriate level of resource and experience is allocated to every case.

Source:  iomtoday.co.im