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Senior Counsel Anand Ramlogan, who is representing Speaker of the House of Assembly, (HoA) Hon. Julian Willock in the court hearing over the application for a judicial review of the Speaker’s decision not to swear in Mark Vanterpool as District Four Representative, has told Vanterpool to go back to the polls.
“What are you scared of?" he asked of Mr. Vanterpool yesterday, April 12, after voicing his objection to the application for a judicial review.
Earlier in the day’s proceedings, Senior Counsel, Edward Fitzgerald, QC, who is representing Mr. Vanterpool, argued that his client did not have the constitutional right to resign from the post as he has not been sworn in.
However, According to Ramlogan, taking into consideration Mr. Vanterpool’s right to liberty, he has a right to do as he pleases as long as his actions are within the confines of the law.
Willock’s lawyer stated that it is not a case where the Speaker is trying to suppress the will of the people, adding that Mr. Vanterpool “is the author of his own misfortunes.”
He later added that the cause ought to be dismissed.
In court, Ramlogan told Justice Ann Marie Smith that a judicial review is a wholly inappropriate to invoke the court’s jurisdiction on the issue.
Mr. Ramlogan pointed to Mr. Vanterpool’s statement on why he is seeking the review, highlighting that Vanterpool said he has no other option of redress. This, the Senior Counsel said, is misleading, adding that Vanterpool had the option of seeking a no-confidence motion against the Speaker, or having the issue debated in the House.
"Didn't Mr. Vanterpool try that?" Justice Smith questioned, in response.
“It is not an impasse without a resolution,” Ramlogan stated, adding that the use of the law to avoid the political solution—which is a by-election—is wrong.
However, Vanterpool’s Legal Representative, in response, reminded the court that it was Willock who wanted the issue brought to court.
He reminded the court of a statement by the Speaker, which said, “…Because this constitutional matter is weighty, it would be prudent at this juncture to seek the opinion of the courts in the interest of fairness, transparency, and best practice.”
“Now, he’s saying you shouldn’t be going to the court, but back to the people,” Fitzgerald pointed out.
The hearing continues today, April 13.
Previous Article Published April 12: Vanterpool Had No Constitutional Right To Resign—Attorney
As the hearing for the request for a judicial review into Speaker Hon. Julian Willock’s decision not to swear in Mark Vanterpool as the representative for the Fourth District commenced earlier today, April 12, the Legal Representative for Vanterpool is contending that the resignation letter that was tendered to the Clerk of the House of Assembly (HoA) was invalid, because it was neither addressed to the right person—the Speaker—nor did Vanterpool have a constitutional right to resign.
Senior Counsel Edward Fitzgerald, QC, who is representing Vanterpool before Justice Ann Marie Smith, is seeking that the court makes a declaration that the resignation letter was invalid, and therefore the Fourth District Seat is not vacant, and for there to be a judicial review of the Speaker’s decision on the issue so that Vanterpool can be sworn in.
In his address to the court, Mr. Fitzgerald stated that his client has not resigned, noting that the same position is shared by both the Attorney General Baba Aziz and Governor Augustus Jaspert. However, for some unexplained reason, that is not the position of the Speaker, he stated.
He pointed to Section 67 (3) of the Constitution which reads, “An elected member of the House of Assembly shall also vacate his or her seat in the House— (a) if he or she resigns it by writing under his or her hand addressed to the Speaker,” which he said is the heart of the matter.
Further, he stated that the letter, which was addressed to the Clerk, instead of the Speaker, was invalid because it was penned by Vanterpool, who is not yet sworn in as a member of the House of Assembly (HoA), therefore he could not resign.
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The Constitution, the Counsel argued, must be strictly adhered to.
Mr. Fitzgerald also referred to Willock’s previous utterances that he would be sticking to his 'ruling' on the matter—where he accepted a resignation letter that was not addressed to him.
There was no ‘ruling’, the Lawyer posited, as a ruling could only be given in a deliberation in the House.
Mr. Fitzgerald reflected on the fact that both the Attorney General and Governor had stated that based on the Constitution, there is no vacancy in the HoA, and the letter was invalid.
He further pointed to Willock’s claim that he had gotten judicial advice from legal minds on the issue, that challenged the AG and Governor’s stance—advice which he has not provided or said who he got the advice from.
According to Mr. Fitzgerald, his client is being denied his constitutional right, which is being assaulted by the Speaker.
In his remarks, Mr. Fitzgerald reiterated that his client “cannot vacate a seat that he does not hold,” and to resign he must already be sworn in as a representative.
As it is, the Lawyer said that his client is the “member-elect.”