PM Dr. Denzil Douglas – St. Kitts – Nevis
Photo By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
September 24, 2009 (CUOPM)
Prominent Caribbean attorney, Mr. Anthony Astaphan has described as “dishonest and dishonourable” remarks made by Political Leader of the People’s Action Movement (PAM) Mr. Lindsay Grant in which he sought to cast aspersions on the independence and impartiality of the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal.
Mr. Grant had alleged that in response to the statement by Mr. Astaphan on WINNFM, he had called all of his solicitors and they indicated to him that they had not received any notification of a Court of Appeal ruling in the constitutional matters before the Court.
“And this is why people have difficulties with abolishing appeals to the Privy Council because here is it the appellants could come on radio and speak about some Judgment being delivered in St. Lucia when up to now we have not yet had sight or information about what transpired. But they have it in their possession so much so that they are now saying that they going to file whatever documents tomorrow even at a time when we have yet to receive that notification. I think the public must digest that, that they have all the information out of St. Lucia and as I speak we have yet to receive any information,” Mr. Grant told WINNFM in response to information from Mr. Astaphan that the Court of Appeal had issued two Orders earlier in the day.
In setting the record straight, Mr. Astaphan said the information was faxed to one of PAM’s lawyers in St. Kitts, Mr. Vincent Byron.
Mr. Astaphan, lead attorney for Govermnment of St. Kitts and Nevis said that the Court of Appeal’s Registry in St. Lucia asked on Tuesday whether the lawyers for the Government would be prepared to hear the Contempt of Court Appeal matter in relation to the Attorney General in October on the 8th.
“We agreed and having agreed, Mr. Arud Gossai of the Attorney General’s Chambers informed the Court and copied the lawyer on the other side representing Mr. Grant and Mr. Richards. In addition to that he spoke with a Mrs. (Greta) Foreman who indicated to him that she would have to consult the rest of the legal team before she could give the consent,” said Astaphan.
He said that Wednesday morning in relation to the Application for Leave to Appeal the refusal of the Judge Olivetti to discharge the injunction that was granted against the Chief Elections Officer and the Government in relation to the Boundaries.
Mr. Astaphan statement continued:
“This morning we received a fax from the Chief Registrar of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and Court of Appeal in St. Lucia in accordance with the standing operating practice. The fax is headed Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to: the Attorney General’s Chambers, fax number 1 869 465 5040; Vincent Byron who is one of the lawyers on record representing Mr. Grant and Mr. Shawn Richards ““ 1 869 465 7191; carbon copied to the Registrar of the High Court of Justice ““ 1 869 465 2482; from the Chief Registrar dated 23rd September 2009; Subject Matter: the Constituency Boundaries Commission et al versus the Hon. Shawn K. Richards et al which includes Mr. Grant; High Court Civil Appeal No. 10 of 2009:
Bearing in mind that this fax is also copied to Mr. Vincent Byron at fax number 869 465 7191 who represents and is on record and has been in Court representing Mr. Richards and Mr. Grant said:
Dear Sirs, Please find attached Order dated 22nd September 2009 relative the caption matter for your information and kind attention.
Yours faithfully, Chief Registrar
The Order of the Hon. Mr. Michael Gordon, Justice of Appeal Acting, said that leave is granted to the extent that such leave is necessary for us, the appellants, to appeal the ruling of Ms. Olivetti.
Once the fax arrived in the office of the Attorney General, Mr. Gossai in his usual promptness immediately called me and faxed me a copy of the directions and Orders. I then spoke with Mr. Erasmus (Williams) about it and I did an interview with him and he played my voice on WINNFM.
It is my understanding from several sources that Mr. Lindsay Grant, the political leader of the People’s Action Movement, went on the radio on WINNFM and said and suggested that some collusion, something is wrong here, some underhanded, hanky panky business is going on here, that we would know about the Order before him because his lawyers don’t know about the Order; seeking to discredit the integrity of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal whose Chief Justice is a son of Nevis; simply to score cheap political points.
I think it is dishonest and dishonorable for Mr. Lindsay Grant, simply because he was able to get the information out on a fax, official fax, from the Chief Registrar, copied to his lawyer, Mr. Vincent Byron, to then seek to cast an aspersion on the Court, I think it is something that reflects on him and I find it totally unacceptable, that an officer of the Court who wants to present himself as an alternative Prime Minister, could behave in such a way.
And I just think it is important, absolutely important that I clear the air. The Order was faxed to us this morning by the Chief Registrar, as well as to Mr. Vincent Byron and the Registrar of the High Court of Justice. And I find it dishonorable that in the midst of an Election campaign or leading up to an Election campaign, such irresponsible statements could be made, casting aspersions on the independence and impartiality of the Court. I find it, I find it, very difficult to accept.
I don’t know if you have any views on that but these are my views and I thought it was important that I get that information out. It is time that these politicians who seek political power stop seeking to discredit the integrity of the Court because they don’t get what they want, or don’t get what they expect. We were granted leave this morning to appeal the Order of the Judge refusing to set aside the injunctions, which means that we now going to a full hearing by the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal has asked Mr. Grant’s lawyers through Mr. Gossai, whether they will consent to a hearing of the Contempt Appeal in St. Vincent on the 8th and I hope that Mr. Grant and Mr. Richards put their money where their mouth is and let’s go to St. Vincent and fight the case on the 8th instead of playing politics with the Elections.
These are serious matters and I think it is unfortunate that such irresponsible statements are being made. Once politicians don’t get what they want they cast aspersions on the Court. When the Court of Appeal refused the earlier applications we had I did not hear Mr. Grant criticize the Court. Suddenly now he finds it convenient to criticize the Court in a most insidious and dishonest way. I did not, and nobody on our legal team got any prior knowledge of this Order and the only time we found out about it my good sir, was when it was faxed to the Office of the Attorney General and was brought to the attention of Mr. Gossai who promptly called me and spoke to me about it.”