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NDP taking further legal action against Ministers

NDP taking further legal action against Ministers

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The lawyers representing members of the New Democratic Party (NDP), who filed complaints against Ministers of the Unity Labour Party (ULP) government, have decided to take further legal action, after the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Colin Williams discontinued the matters which they had filed at the Serious Offences Court.{{more}}

Nicole Sylvester and Kay Bacchus-Browne, during a press conference at the Caribbean International Law Firm’s Conference Room, on Friday, January 14, 2010, stated their intention to proceed in the matters.

“There are two sets of steps that we intend to take. One in relation to the Magistrate’s decision not to issue the summons in respect of Dr. Gonsalves, and the other one in respect of the DPP’s decision to discontinue all six matters,” Bacchus-Browne said.

“We shall be going to the court for judicial review of the DPP’s decision to take over and discontinue all six complaints,” she continued.

Four complaints were filed against Minister Clayton Burgin by Dr Linton Lewis for statements allegedly made on November 14 and 23, 2010. Member of Parliament Nigel Stephenson had filed two against Minister Douglas Slater, for comments he allegedly made on November 26, 2010 and Senator Vynnette Frederick had filed four complaints, two against PM Ralph Gonsalves and two against Minister Cecil Mckie.

Sylvester explained that the Chief Magistrate Sonya Young had found that the two charges against the Prime Minister, as well as two of those brought against Clayton Burgin, were “frivolous and vexatious,” but determined that in the other cases, there were issues to move ahead with.

Williams, however, took over the cases and discontinued them.

In relation to the complaints against the Prime Minister, which were not issued by the Chief Magistrate, Bacchus-Browne said the law gives them power to take the matter before the High Court and order that the magistrate should issue the summons against Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

Both Sylvester and Bacchus-Browne lamented that the DPP’s decision defined the “sad state of law in the country”. Sylvester, commending Young’s decision to go ahead with the cases, however weighed the decisions of Young against those of Williams.

“Those charges, we agree with the Chief Magistrate, should have been issued and she has issued those charges to each of those persons…the DPP has taken them over and discontinued them. At no time did the DPP contact the complainants or their witnesses,” Sylvester said.

“…Which decision you trust… the Chief Magistrate who said let them go forward and answer and they should have been answering today or the DPP? He’s had a history of discontinuing matters when it comes to the Honourable Prime Minister,” Sylvester said.

She further pointed out the fact Williams was a former Public Relations Officer of the Unity Labour Party.

Sylvester also read letters from three complainants, who all related their disappointment in the discontinuance of their private criminal cases. A letter read by Sylvester from Frederick, addressed to the DPP, referred to his decision as “highhanded and oppressive conduct”.

Similar sentiments of disappointment were expressed in a letter from Nigel Stephenson to Williams. “I consider your action oppressing in the context of my being a citizen in the state of St. Vincent and the Grenadines where I am born with enshrined rights which are immutable,” the letter said.

Bacchus-Browne also read a letter also addressed to the DPP from Dr Linton Lewis, which expressed his disappointment as well. “Your decision to discontinue, with greatest respect, is most unfortunate. In so doing, it naturally accords to anyone in this country the right to make false statements of fact against any candidate or prospective candidate, which reflects negatively on that candidate’s conduct and or character to adversely affect the candidate’s return in the poll,” part of the letter read.

“In essence, it does appear that you have applied by design, the power given to you to discontinue private criminal matters in an arbitrary manner and so doing, have paid very little regard to the very law you, by virtue of your constitutional role, are duty bound to apply,” the letter continued.

Also making remarks, Bacchus-Browne emphasized that both she and Sylvester will stand up for law in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, despite of any threats received from other parties. “No amount of threats, aspersions, no amount of character assassination will stop myself or Miss Sylvester from standing up for poor people or for fighting for democracy and freedom in this country.” Bacchus-Browne said.

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