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Browne, Frederick may be heading for law courts

Browne, Frederick may be heading for law courts

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The two youngest persons contesting the general elections for each of the main political parties here have accused each other of breaking the law and are threatening legal action.{{more}}

Vynnette Frederick, 34, who will be contesting the West St. George seat on a New Democratic Party (NDP) ticket, last week accused Luke Browne, the Unity Labour Party’s (ULP) candidate for East Kingstown of being involved in “a conspiracy to subvert justice and rig the general election in East Kingstown.”

Frederick, a lawyer, first made the allegation on Thursday, November 25, on Hitz FM, where she and Browne were in studio to be part of an interactive discussion on youth issues in the general elections.

In her introductory remarks on the programme, Frederick said, “There really can be no doubt as to my commitment to the youth, but this morning evidence just coming to hand has required me to speak immediately on a matter of fundamental importance to our democracy.”

She then accused Browne, members of his family and other members of his campaign team of having “illegally transported registered voters living in other constituencies into the constituency of East Kingstown polling stations EKL and EKB to knowingly transfer into the constituency of East Kingstown in your attempt to rig the vote in the constituency.”

This, Frederick stated, is illegal and contrary to the Representation of the People Act and attracts a maximum jail sentence of two years and a fine of $4,000.

Browne, 25, a graduate student at Oxford University, is running against the incumbent Arnhim Eustace, 66, who has won the East Kingstown seat on three consecutive occasions – 1998, 2001 and 2005. Eustace is the president of the NDP and Leader of the Opposition.

After the moderator of the Hitz FM discussion programme interrupted Frederick, she left the radio studio and was later heard on two other radio stations, where she read the text of her statement, which included what she said was evidence to support her allegations against Browne, members of his family and his close associates.

“At this time, legal action against you and your offending family members, Fernando Serieux and Grantley Williams and the Registering Officers and offending private citizens is being pursued. As a lawyer I strongly advise you to retain independent legal counsel,” Frederick’s statement, which is posted on the NDP site, www.ivotingndp.com, says. In the statement, she also described Browne’s alleged actions as “a disgrace” and said that he will be held accountable.

However, the Unity Labour Party (ULP) in a press release issued on November 27 said that Frederick’s allegations have all been flatly denied by Browne and “could land her in jail and cause her to be barred from participating in the General Elections.”

The statement described Frederick’s allegations “false” and said they were made “without providing a shred of evidence.”

The ULP’s release said Browne has been advised by his legal team that Frederick has contravened the provisions of section 51(3) of Representation of the People Act and is guilty of an illegal election practice prohibited by the Parliament of Saint Vincent & the Grenadines.

“Accordingly,” the release quoted Browne as stating, “I intend to write the Director of Public Prosecutions to have Frederick prosecuted, because the statements and allegations made against me are patently false.”

Section 51 (3) of the Representation of the People Act states: “Any person who, before or during an election, for the purpose of affecting the return of any candidate or prospective candidate at such election, makes or publishes any false statement in fact in relation to the personal character or conduct of such candidate is guilty of an illegal practice and liable to a fine of $750 and to imprisonment for a year.”

The relevant parts of section 51 (4) state: “Any person who is convicted of any offence declared to be an illegal practice under this or any other section of this Act shall, in addition to any other penalty for such offence, be incapable during a period of five years from the date of his conviction a) of being registered as a voter or voting at any election; and b) of being elected or appointed as a member of the House of Assembly, or, if elected or appointed before his conviction, of retaining his seat as such member”.

Browne also said he was considering pursuing defamation proceedings against Frederick: “I cannot allow my reputation to be attacked by desperate people. This NDP cancer of liars and deliberate lies must stop. We cannot permit this factory of misinformation and lies to continue and go unanswered. I am determined to ensure that Miss Frederick faces the legal consequences for her false statements and dishonest conduct towards me. Enough is enough!”

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