Senior Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) officials were involved in exam malpractices, before they were let go in 2016, a report by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) has revealed.

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The NIS report further states that the senior Knec officials took part in bribery, extortion and to an extent aided in exam leakage. 

This led to the then Education Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang'i dismantling the Knec board members in March 2016. According to Dr Matiang'i, the move was an attempt to improve the handling of national exams at the primary and secondary school level. 

A fresh board immediately took charge and begun by sending home all officials with questionable conduct. This was an attempt to restore public trust towards the body in dispensing the national tests. 

Some staff like Thomas Mackenzie were removed from their positions after being linked to exam malpractices. Until his untimely dismissal in April 2016, Mackenzie was the Knec Principal Examination Administrator and the head of invigilation and supervision of exams.

"Because the people recruited by Mr Mackenzie were blamed for the leakages and malpractices during the exams, the buck stops with him," the Knec lawyer told the Labour and Industrial Relations Court.

 In its defence, Knec said Mr Mackenzie was dismissed out of public interest. 

"Retirement in public interest is not a punishment but an administrative action taken by the government for the sake of public order, safety and harmony. In this case, there was a reason for the public to be aggrieved. The retirement of Mr Mackenzie was justified," Knec told the court.

According to Knec, the decision to do away with Mr Mackenzie and other officials was occasioned by Knec's deteriorating performance, forcing the government's intervention. However, the labour court disagreed with Mr Mackenzie's terms of dismissal. 

The court ruled that the Employment Act does not allow the employer-employee contract to be terminated prematurely. The court also ruled that Knec did not allow Mr Mackenzie to defend himself before they decided to forcefully retire him.

"The decision the respondent took to retire the claimant should comply with the Employment Act," the labour court judge Nzioka wa Makau said. 

The court also downplayed the NIS report, which placed Mr Mackenzie at the centre of exam irregularities, claiming that there lacked evidence on how the accused was involved. 

Mr Mackenzie whose retirement letter was sent through his postal address, first indicated that he would be on a payable leave until his fate was heard and determined by the disciplinary committee. The court, however, ruled his dismissal as unfair and unjust, awarding him Sh1.5 million compensation.