I would have fired Ashelle Morgan – Sir James
Former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell has made it clear that if it were his decision, he would have fired government senator, Ashelle Morgan.
The senator, who also is Deputy Speaker of the House of Parliament, is said to be a person of interest in an incident involving Diamond resident, Cornelius John, who alleged that he was shot and beaten at his home on April 13.
Sir James was commenting on the issues surrounding the shooting and the response of Prime Minister (PM) Dr Ralph Gonsalves this week on Boom FM’s OMG morning interactive programme.
He said the way the incident is being dealt with is a matter of the unique judgement of Dr Gonsalves, but noted that it is also for the public to judge the judgement of the PM.
“Is he (PM) satisfied that he has to wait on justice, so-called justice, and the investigation? How much longer will the Prime Minister wait? Is he going to wait another two months, or is he going to wait out the rest of the four more years, or is there a feeling that this might be a storm in a teacup?… Sir James questioned.
Morgan and Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, Karim Nelson are alleged to be persons of interest in the John incident, and while Nelson is said to have taken leave from work, Morgan has not,and there have been calls for her to step down or be asked to do so.
At the last sitting of the Parliament, Opposition leader, Dr Godwin Friday requested of the Speaker to have Morgan step aside, leading to a heated exchange that resulted in Friday being asked to leave the Parliament after he rejected the Speaker’s ruling.
Sir James said he is no sure why Gonsalves still wants Morgan in Parliament but if it was his choice, he would have fired Morgan.
“Action should be taken…I have got rid of people on less grounds,” he said while noting that he took decisions when he was Prime Minister (between 1984 and 2000) to fire persons involved at various levels of government, some of them his own friends.
He said that there is no place in the parliament for stepping aside, as you are either a member of parliament or you are not, and as a senator appointed by government, you hold you position strictly on the authority of the Prime Minister, who informs the Governor General that you should be made a senator.
He said Morgan is being kept as senator, so the judgement is not of the Speaker, but of the PM to keep Morgan there.
The former Prime Minister raised the question of justice as the foundation for democracy, and the need to be careful with the reduction and the creeping collapse of justice.
He also pointed to the issue of poverty in seeking and obtaining justice.
“It goes right back to the fact that the middle class in SVG is shrinking and the middle class was wounded by CLICO and the millions of dollars that vanished out of CLICO…” Sir James said while noting that it takes money to fight and poor people cannot fight.
“…the only thing that the public has is their intelligence, conscience, and willingness to go beyond their own suffering to look at the suffering of others…” Sir James said while noting that empathy, compassion and care is important.
He said that in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), we have a long way to go and he wonders if in these small countries we can guarantee justice forever.
“…We have a pattern of people being denied justice and the question before Vincentians is, is this affair with Cornelius John the last in the series of miscarriages of justice and the slowing down of the judicial process in this country?
“And the old platitude remains, justice delayed is justice denied, and the question always is, who benefits from the injustice? Who sets about to destroy others and who benefits from the injustice?”