Election results may have helped law lords decide
December 22, 2006

Election results may have helped law lords decide

The December 7, 2005, General Elections in St Vincent and the Grenadines are history but the result – a second victory for the Unity Labour Party (ULP) – was cited by lawyer Joseph Delves as one of the key reasons for the Privy Council in London dismissing an application to quash the Commission of Inquiry into the Ottley Hall Marina project.

Delves, one of the lawyers representing the government at the December 4, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council hearing, recalled that the law lords specifically asked the question whether there was an election since the appeal was filed two years ago and what was the result?{{more}}

“This means that the law lords were indirectly saying that given that the political climate had not changed the interest in the Commission they will not deem the commission void in no circumstances,” Delves told journalists last Monday December 18.

He thought it was ironic that the matter took two years to get a date for hearing by the Privy Council, allotted two days for the arguments but was disposed of in less than two hours.

Keir Starmer QC presented arguments on behalf of the appellants and it is claimed that approximately one hour and a half after doing so he was pressed by the law lords to wrap up his case. Delves said that when the hearing resumed the law lords indicated there was no need for a response.

The case was immediately dismissed.

The inquiry is expected to restart late January or early February and subject to no further hiccups it is anticipated that it should wrap up by March.

In May 2004, the Commission of Inquiry was suspended, pending an appeal to the Privy Council by appellants Richard Joachim and Glenford Stewart who felt the Inquiry was unconstitutional.

Dominican lawyer, Anthony Astaphan, the investigating counsel for the Commission of Inquiry described the delay as “a most painful experience”. During the suspension he said only investigations were conducted.

The lone Commissioner, Justice Ephraim Georges, said the delay was a frustrating experience.

“I myself entertained no doubt at anytime that the commission would have prevailed,” said Justice Georges. He said his sole regret with the “humongous delay” was the expense and frustration caused by the “unnecessary” delay.

Justice Georges reiterated that the evidence so far shows that some persons who have not yet been called or have given evidence may be implicated in certain offences under the criminal code and the common law.

Evidence presented so far, which has implicated four people, has been sent to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for an opinion of whether “certain possible criminal acts or offences may have been committed by them”.

The Commission of Inquiry had its first public hearing on November 14, 2003. Since then no fewer than 30 persons have given evidence.