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High Court turns down suspended APNU+AFC MPs’ request to attend Parliament


L-R: Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, Vinceroy Jordan, Maureen Philadelphia, Christopher Jones, Annette Ferguson, Ganesh Mahipaul, Natasha Singh-Lewis, Sherod Duncan

High Court Judge Damone Younge on Thursday denied granting an interim order sought by eight A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Members of Parliament (MPs) to attend Parliament despite being suspended for ‘disorderly conduct and collective vulgarity.’


The Judge denied the request while hearing a Fixed Date Application (FDA) filed by Attorneys-at-Law Roysdale Forde, SC, Khemraj Ramjattan, and Selwyn Pieters on behalf of Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, Vinceroy Jordan, Annette Ferguson, Maureen Philadelphia, Ganesh Mahipaul, Sherod Duncan, Christopher Jones, Natasha Singh-Lewis.


The eight Parliamentarians, among other things, are seeking to have the Parliamentary Committee of Privileges report for them to be suspended nullified.


During the hearing today, Justice Younge noted that several filings in the matter were outstanding. It is on this note that she did not grant the order. Notwithstanding, the case will be called again on August 10.


During the passage of the Natural Resource Fund Bill on December 29, Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) blew whistles and chanted loudly, “no thieving bill must pass,” as they gathered in the pit of the dome of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), where National Assembly sittings are being held owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Bill was eventually passed but not without a confrontation as one of the MPs snatched the Speaker’s Mace, damaging it in the process.


A few days later, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Gail Teixeira moved a motion to send the eight Opposition parliamentarians to the Committee.


The Committee was tasked with determining the sanctions, if any, that would be applied to the parliamentarians accused of misbehaving in the National Assembly and submit a report on February 24.


According to court documents seen by MTV News Update, the eight members were written to my Clerk of the Committee, Dellon Adam, requesting them to “show cause” as to why sanctions should not be meted out to them.


The MPs said that they were unaware that their behaviour on the day in question falls into the category of gross disorderly conduct and, as such, requested the Committee to point them to the Standing Orders, which they supposedly violated.


“The Applicants never received a response to their Letters of request for clarification and further information from Clerk of the National Assembly, the Clerk of the Committee, and/or from the Speaker,” the eight MPs said in the court document.


On April 13, Minister Teixeira moved a Motion to extend the deadline for the submission of the report of the Committee from February 24 to June 15.


The Committee on June 3 recommended that Sarabo-Halley, Jordan, Ferguson, and Philadelphia be suspended for six consecutive sittings of the National Assembly, while Mahipaul, Duncan, Jones, and Singh-Lewis be suspended for four consecutive sittings of the National Assembly.


The Committee noted that the recommendations were based on video recordings, statements by staff of the Parliament Office and the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), eyewitness accounts by other Members of the House, media reporters, and the public, both locally and internationally.


In light of this, the MPs complained that the report of the Committee of Privileges would be a published record that would forever inevitably affect their character and reputation.


They argued that any suspension would further hinder them from representing the people who elected them to sit in the National Assembly and would also prevent Mahipaul from functioning as a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).


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