By LK Hewlett
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) — Attorney General Vincent Byron is confident that the St Kitts and Nevis government will emerge victorious in its legal challenge to have leader of the opposition, Dr Denzil Douglas, disqualified as an elected parliamentarian for using a Dominica diplomatic passport. Equally, Douglas also has full confidence that he will win the case.
The attorney general took Douglas to court in February 2018 but there have been several adjournments over the past few months.
The matter was heard in the high court on Thursday, and Justice Trevor Ward QC has reserved his judgment.
Byron spoke to journalists outside the courtroom after the matter had been adjourned sine die, saying he felt the government made a strong case that Douglas owed allegiance to the government of Dominica, and therefore should be disqualified from the parliament.
“The constitution says that you have to show an acknowledgment, you have to have an allegiance, it does not say at all in the constitution that you have to swear an allegiance. The issue is that the use of having accepted and used the passport and Dr. Douglas has not denied that. He has actually filed with the court that he has visited seven countries at least ten times using a Dominican diplomatic passport and the case is having used that passport it falls under the protection of Dominica and using the case precedence… in England, the 1944 House of Lords case, we say that that is an acknowledgment of allegiance. I do admit that the court has to decide one way or the other but we are confident that the case that we presented is a very strong case,” he said.
Douglas is nevertheless confident that he will triumph in the legal battle with the government over his possession and use of a diplomatic passport issued by Dominica, and said he should not have been in court in the first place.
“Very optimistic in the sense that I am not a citizen of Dominica, never pretended to be one. Even though of course I cannot get into the intricacies of the case, the passport that is being travelled with is asking by this government, the governor or whoever with the authority to allow myself to travel and be given courtesies, that does not mean that I have taken an oath of allegiance or I have any in particular interest in the country that has issued the passport,” he said.
Commenting on the proceedings, Douglas said the case was an act of spite by Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris and a waste of taxpayers’ money.
“I’ve always said that it’s a pity, and I just said it to the attorney general, that taxpayers’ money is being wasted in this particular way when in our hospitals there are patients who are being underserviced because of lack of essential drugs for those who are critically ill and those who are acutely and chronically ill. This is really an abuse of taxpayers’ money it is part of the political charade that Dr Harris has pursued, it’s a vendetta, it is part of his vindictiveness, which has become part of his very nature. I think our citizens of St Kitts and Nevis should realize the type of person who is now in the leadership of our country. I gave Dr Simmonds a diplomatic passport any time it was required, I believe that this is important that we understand that all this is happening because of Harris refusing to provide a diplomatic passport to a former head of government and the present leader of opposition,” Douglas said.
Lead counsel for Douglas in the case, Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan, is also of the view that the entire situation could have been avoided had Harris not refused to issue Douglas a diplomatic passport as the former prime minister and as he is entitled to as leader of the opposition.
“The reason why Dr Douglas was put into this with the diplomatic passport was this prime minister and this minister of foreign affairs refused in accordance with protocol to give a diplomatic passport to former prime minister and leader of the opposition. When Dr Douglas explained that to the prime minister of Dominica, he was how should I put it very nicely, he was very astounded, disappointed and as a result of which, and the language used by Dr Douglas is absolutely accurate, because of that deprivation as a matter, I think you mentioned personal and professional courtesy, it was given to him. Had the common courtesy to a former prime minister be given we would not be here today. I think it’s regrettable a former prime minister has to go through this time of harassment but we will see what happens at the end of the case,” Astaphan said.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network