The Parliamentary Representative for St Peter Asot Michael has threatened to take legal action against the Speaker of the House of Assembly Sir Gerald Watt.
Through his attorneys Marshall and Company, Michael says he was unlawfully suspended from parliament for three sittings
Sir Watts said Michael was removed for “hooliganism” behavior and disrespect of the chair
In their letter, the law firm argued that House had no power to make standing orders providing for the suspension of a member, calling those provisions unconstitutional.
“Having taken full instructions, which include a review of the audio and visual recording of the events, we are satisfied that the purported suspension of our client was unlawful for the following reasons, namely: the House had no power to make standing orders providing for the suspension of a member and SO 50(7) was, accordingly, unconstitutional, null and void and even if the House did have the power to make rules providing for the suspension of a member, it had no power to make rules providing for the suspension of a member for three or more sittings and SO 50(8) was, accordingly, unconstitutional, null, and void” according to the legal document
Furthermore, the attorneys said the suspension was imposed for the improper purpose of punishing their client and was not reasonably required for the regulation of the affairs and/or proceedings of the House; and the suspension was not affected in accordance with the mandatory procedural steps specified by SO 50(7).
“We have, therefore, advised our client that the purported suspension was a nullity. On our client’s behalf, we request that you confirm in writing that you will not take any steps to exclude or cause to be excluded our client from the next, or any subsequent, sitting of the House, whenever that should occur”, the letter stated
The law firm called for the Speaker to not take steps to exclude their client from any proceedings of the House and to confirm such in writing by Thursday, May 25.
If this is not done, the lawyers have said that they will have no choice but to take legal action against the Speaker.
“Unless we receive your written confirmation by close of business Thursday 25th May 2023, we will be compelled to commence appropriate legal proceedings to protect the rights of our client as enshrined in the Constitution”, the letter stated
All this comes as the Opposition United Progressive Party said while it is not condoning the behavior of MP for St Peter Asot Michael in Parliament, his reaction was a human response to “provocation” by Prime Minister Gaston Browne
In a statement to the media, the UPP said that “it is unfortunate and unfair that Sir Gerald then chose to victimize MP Michael for his human response to gross provocation. The UPP’s Leadership does not condone the remarks made by MP Michael since we cannot support blatant disrespect of the Speaker or the House. However, we recognize that the Member had been unreasonably pushed to the limit of his tolerance”
The UPP accused the Speaker of being biased, saying that “the breaches of the Standing Orders – unparliamentary language, threats/intimidation, imputing improper motives – that took place in the sitting of Thursday, May 18, were ignored or overlooked by Sir Gerald and created an environment that was, at best, hostile to MP Michael and, at worst, a naked abuse of power”
The UPP said also that Speaker left no room at any time in that sitting for a “No” vote and declared, in every other instance, that “the Ayes have it” – without the benefit of a count.
“Accordingly, it is not known which Members of even the Government Bench voted for the fictional suspension of MP Michael. We say “fictional” because the Standing Orders governing the naming and suspension of a Member were not followed. The Speaker cannot move the motion; and, so, everything that transpired in that rushed procedure is of no effect” the statement added.