Chairman of the Integrity Commission, retired Justice Seymour Panton, says if former Member of Parliament for Hanover Western, Ian Hayles is not ready to proceed with the matter of the suit he brought against the then Contractor General in March, 2017 when it comes up for hearing in November this year, he will be instructing the Commission’s attorneys to “move immediately for the claim to be struck out”.
Panton referenced the more than five year-old matter in the chairman’s remarks in the Commission’s Annual Report for 2021-2022 which was tabled in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
Hayles, in 2017, moved to block then Contractor General Dirk Harrison from publishing a report on allegations of conflict of interest, irregularities and/or impropriety in relation to the construction of buildings without the approval of the Hanover Parish Council.
Hayles claimed his constitutional rights would be abridged by the report, but insisted that his intention was not to prevent the public from seeing the report.
The former MP also claimed that the contractor general overstepped his authority in the methods used to gather material used to compile the report. He was granted an injunction by the court barring the report from being tabled in the Parliament.
In his remarks in the Commission’s annual report, Panton said: “Now, I realise that the matter is before the Supreme Court so I will not comment on the merit or otherwise of the suit. However, I must inform the Parliament and the general public that the claim is not being pursued by the claimant with any urgency”.
Panton noted that in 2017, the matter was listed on three occasions for a total of eight court days – May 11 and 12; July 24, 26 and 27; and December 4-6.
“In 2020, the matter was listed on two occasions for a total of six court days in April and July. In 2022, the matter was listed on May 2, and again on May 9-13,” the Commission chairman shared.
He lamented that “The matter was not taken on any of these days, and the Commission has been reliably informed that this was due to the claimant not being ready to proceed. On one occasion, May 2, the Commission and the claimant were not ready to proceed,” said Panton.
He said the matter has now been fixed for hearing on November 2 and 3, 2022 before Chief Justice Bryan Sykes.
“If the claimant is still not ready to proceed in November, the Commission’s attorneys-at-law will be instructed to move immediately for the claim to be struck out. Five-and-a-half years is too long a time for a matter of this nature to be still pending. It is reasonable for the public to have been expecting that the claimant would have been chomping at the bit to have this matter determined by the Court,” Panton stated.