By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 23, 2018 – The concern by lawyers for Leader of the Opposition, the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, not to allow documents in a trial proceeding to be handled by officers of the High Court, highlights a grave public concern since Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Government assumed office in February 2015
Dr. Douglas’ Senior Counsel, Mr. Anthony Astaphan, who is leading the defence team in a civil matter brought against the opposition leader, stoutly resisted an application by Attorney General Hon. Vincent Byron for inspection of the Dominica Diplomatic Passport.
“We made our position very clear that we are not giving Dr. Douglas’ passport to the Attorney General’s lawyers, we are not giving it to the Attorney General, we are not giving it to the Registrar, we are not filing it in the Registry, we are not giving it to anybody (inside the Registry),” said Astaphan in a telephone interview on Freedom 106.5 FM on Friday.
Astaphan said the Defence Team is prepared in the interest of transparency and in the interest of full disclosure “to hand the passport at the appropriate time to the judge, for the judge to ascertain that the information provided in writing, accurately reflects what is in the passport.”
Another senior lawyer on the defence team, Sylvester Anthony also expressed a similar concern on the submission of documents to the Court Registry, during an interview on WINN FM 98.9.
He pointed out that the Attorney General in filing the civil suit claimed that Dr. Douglas applied for and received a Dominica Diplomatic Passport because he is a citizen of Dominica.
Mr. Anthony explained the decision of the legal team to refuse the Attorney General’s request for disclosure by giving them the Dominica Diplomatic Passport and volunteered instead to present the travel document to the judge alone.
“They will not see it. The only reason they wanted the passport is to emblazon (display) it over social media for political purposes and that was the purpose of their request for disclosure which they later withdrew. It is not because it is material to the case, Their case is that Dr. Douglas applied for and received a Diplomatic passport by virtue of being a citizen of Dominica,” said Anthony.
There has been growing public concern that ministers in the Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Government have disclosed confidential information of private citizens during meetings of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly and the Prime Minister’s Press Conferences for cheap political gain.
Documents submitted to the Court by Dr. Douglas’ legal team have been posted on several social media platforms by known operatives of the Team Unity Government, even before the date was set for the first hearing.
Recently, the Nomination Form that Dr. Douglas signed on Nomination Day, one week before the February 16, 2015 General Election, which was in the sole possession of the Supervisor of Elections, Mr. Elvin Bailey, was submitted in an affidavit by Cartwright Mills, better known as “Big Chief,” a resident of Newton Ground, part of Dr. Douglas’ constituency .
The question was asked by the public “How did the Nomination Form signed by the SKNLP Parliamentary Representative for St. Christopher 6 and Leader of the Opposition, the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, found its way in Mills’ possession in the absence of Freedom of Information legislation?”
A few months after taking office in 2015, the Timothy Harris Government decided not to renew the contract and attempted to dismiss the Director of Public Prosecution, Trinidadian Travers Sinanan.
Sinanan having complied with the contractual arrangements and the constitution refused and began legal proceedings to challenge the decision of Attorney General Vincent Byron.
Days later, a copy of the contract between the government and Director of Public Prosecutions Travers Sinanan, which is kept in the Office of the Attorney General, found its way into the public domain on social media.
Minutes before the hearing in the High Court, at the behest of the government, both parties announced a settlement including financial compensation.
The amount has never been made public due to a confidentiality clause in the agreement although several sources said the compensation was in the region of EC$2.5 million.
Prime Minister Harris has on several occasions during the National Assembly and his press conferences, read excerpts from the medical records of former Minister of Education, Sen. Nigel Carty.