Queen’s Counsel Parnel R Campbell has warned Member of Parliament for Central Kingstown St Clair Leacock that should he (Leacock) repeat certain things said on radio last week, he would be sued.
Campbell, speaking on his television programme ‘The Law and You’ last Monday night, said he had been advised by three lawyers that comments made on radio by Leacock on January 6, and again on January 8, were defamatory.
“I am willing to overlook all that Mr Leacock has said, up to this moment, but if the remarks are repeated by Mr Leacock, I will take appropriate advice and action. Because he is wrong on several counts and I fail to understand what strategic purpose could be serving.”
Leacock is a vice president of the New Democratic Party (NDP), of which Campbell served as Chairman for many years. Campbell was also the parliamentary representative for the Central Kingstown constituency from 1987 to 1998; the same seat Leacock now holds.
Last week, in two scathing attacks, Leacock described the Queen’s Counsel’s involvement in a court matter brought by the NDP against the Supervisor of Elections as “unprincipled and unethical”.
Leacock had justified his position by saying that Campbell saw the “demise of the NDP”, for which he was a chairman, and his personal involvement caused the NDP to go into opposition; and now, Campbell “could find the means and the ways and the time and the effort and the passion to represent the ULP in the court case against the [NDP].”
In an interview last week, Campbell told SEARCHLIGHT that he was not on the Government’s payroll in the case, but went to court the first morning to ‘hold papers’ for Anthony Astaphan, counsel for the Supervisor of Elections, who could not make it.
Campbell again defended himself on television last Monday.
“Let me make it clear, in case I have not been clear enough. If the Government wants to hire me to do a legal matter, even against the NDP, I will consider doing it. As I said before, they haven’t hired me in the last election case, but if they do, I will take the assignment as a lawyer and who doesn’t like that, too bad. Nobody will dictate to me how I should deploy my legal services.”
Campbell reminded lawmakers such as Leacock that one cannot dictate to a lawyer how and to whom he should give advice, unless one has paid him to do a bit of work and he turns around and is working for somebody else in the same matter.
“A lawyer is free to represent whomsoever he wants…. For the umpteen years the NDP has been in opposition, nobody has ever asked my Opinion about anything. I was treated as if I didn’t matter and that was okay with me….”
Campbell said his concern is not the fortune of the NDP or the ULP (Unity Labour Party).
“My concern is with the welfare of St Vincent and the Grenadines. I am a nationalist and I will support anything that advances the welfare of the nation and I would criticize anything that derogates from the welfare of the nation. I am a patriot; St Vincent and the Grenadines is my concern. Political tribalism has no place in my heart,” the experienced attorney declared.
“Yes, I was an integral part of the NDP, when the NDP was a different party from the one that it has grown to be these days. We have two NDPs you know, the former NDP and the present one. The former NDP was a party of law and order.”
Campbell said when he and party founder Sir James Mitchell were closely involved in the party, it achieved much success.
“When I played an integral part in the campaign, we won in ’89, in ’94 and in ’98, four elections, one after the other under Sir James Mitchell. But in the post-Mitchell era, different story, different NDP.”
He, therefore, advised Leacock not to use him as a scapegoat and noted that Sir James has also been sidelined by the NDP.
“Mr Leacock should not try to take out his frustration on me and try to use me as a scapegoat for what he refers to as the demise of the New Democratic Party, and I noted that word, as reported in the Searchlight, and felt it was a very apt word for him to have used to characterize what has happened to the party in the post-Mitchell era. The party has not won a single election in the absence of Mr Mitchell and he has been completely sidelined by the party in much the same way as I was sidelined, but I do not complain about the party’s attitude towards me.”