Ruling will not affect Senate — Holness

Ruling will not affect Senate — Holness

Ruling will not affect Senate Holness

Saturday, February 07, 2015

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THE Supreme Court yesterday declared that Opposition Leader Andrew Holness acted unlawfully contrary to the Constitution of Jamaica when he required that persons to be appointed to the Senate sign undated letters of resignation before appointment to the Upper House.

"...The request for and procurement of pre-signed and undated letters of resignation and letters of authorisation by the Leader of the Opposition from persons to be appointed or appointed as Senators to the Senate of Jamaica upon his nomination is inconsistent with the Constitution, contrary to public policy, unlawful and accordingly, null and void," the court said in its ruling handed down yesterday.

Holness used the presigned letters to oust Arthur Williams and Dr Christopher Tufton from the Senate, days after the Opposition leader won a bitter leadership battle against challenger Audley Shaw, his spokesman on finance. Both backed Shaw in the leadership challenge.

Holnesss, in a statement to the press yesterday, said he noted the declaration of the court on the important public policy issues surrounding the resignation of senators, but said that the ruling will not affect the composition of Opposition senators.

"Mr Arthur Williams, attorney-at-law, who was at the time my chief of staff and also leader of Opposition business in the Senate, created the letters and advised me on their use and its constitutionality," Holness said in his statement. "Mr Williams' involvement in creating this situation is significant enough for the judges to conclude that no cost should be awarded to him," added the Jamaica Labour Party leader.

"We appreciate the clarification going forward that this declaratory judgement brings to our constitutional arrangements; however, given the complex legal and constitutional issues involved, we are still analysing the declaration and the reasons given," he continued.

The case was taken to court by Williams immediately after his dismissal in 2013 from the Senate.

"Today I feel vindicated from the day that this matter happened in November 2013. This is not about me or Christopher Tufton, it is about the Constitution of Jamaica, and I felt constrained to pursue this action to this stage and I'm glad today that the Constitutional Court has ruled, and ruled the way they have," he said.

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