The legal matter between the Member of Parliament for Micoud South who is also the Leader of the Opposition in parliament, Allen Chastanet, and Speaker of the House of Assembly Claudius Francis, has ended.
The crux of the matter which entered the public domain last year, was about Francis referring complaints made by parliamentarians Richard Frederick and Dr. Ernest Hilaire against Chastanet to the Privileges Committee of the House of Assembly.
Francis is the Chairman of the Privileges Committee.
A high court ruling, last October, restrained Francis from conducting any business of the Privileges Committee in respect to the complaints made by Frederick and Hilaire. The halt to the proceedings was “until the determination of the claim filed herein for the relief under the constitution or further order of the court.”
The high court this week ruled in favour of Chastanet stating that the Speaker (Francis) had no power to refer to the Committee of Privileges any complaint made by a Member of the House of Assembly against another Member in respect of privilege or contempt.
The case, which was heard before His Lordship, the Honourable Justice Shawn Innocent, featured appearances by Garth Patterson K.C., Mark Maragh and Taylor Laurayne, Attorneys-at-law for Chastanet, and Ms. Renee St. Rose, Attorney-at-Law for the Speaker (Francis).
Court documents stated thus:
“AND THE PARTIES having agreed that the Defendant (Francis) has no power to refer to the Committee of Privileges any complaint made by a Member of the House of Assembly against another Member in respect of privilege or contempt.
AND THE PARTIES consenting to the terms as set out below.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED BY CONSENT: 1. The purported referrals in or about October 2022 by the Defendant (Francis) to the Committee of Privileges of the complaints made by Honourable Richard Frederick and the Honourable Ernest Hilaire respectively against the Claimant are null and void and of no effect, the Defendant having no power to refer to the Committee of Privileges any complaint made by a Member of the House of Assembly against another Member in respect of a matter of privilege or contempt.
2. The Claimant’s costs of and incidental to this claim and of the interlocutory application for injunction filed herein on the 24th day of October 2022 shall be paid by the Defendant to the Claimant, such costs to be assessed if not agreed.
We consent: Garth Patterson, KC Renee T. St. Rose.”
Why is Francis, a die hard life time member and supporter of the St. Lucia Labour Party be allowed to be independent enough to be the Speaker of the House and thus, the Chairman of the Privileges committee? to me this smacks of conflict of interest; for more than once have proved he should be removed as Speaker of the House. It was not long ago seen sitting in the Court House. along with Richard Fredrick, the Prime Minister etc etc. in a Case involving a fellow member Cabinet Minister – which appeared to be intentionally an intimidation factor – these tactics I believe will continue as has been shown in the past, as an obstruction mechanism set up by members of the Cabinet, using the Speaker as their mouthpiece on many occasion; is this democracy in action? can’t we have someone the two Parties would agree to be qualified and independent enough to be the Speaker of the House? we’re waiting.