Renewed call for investigation
The House of Assembly is to be urged to call upon Governor George Fergusson to immediately issue a commission to investigate “serious allegations” made against sitting ministers of the government.
In the same motion, the Opposition will call for the ministers involved to be suspended until the inquiry is concluded.
Progressive Labour Party MPs Wayne Furbert and Michael Scott said that allegations made public by the widespread release of an affidavit by developer Michael MacLean were serious enough to warrant the move, in the public interest.
Mr Furbert said that the Opposition had approached Speaker of the House Randy Horton last week for permission to bring the motion before legislators, but that the Speaker had ruled that the motion was sub judice — meaning it was under judicial consideration and thus prohibited from being publicly discussed.
“We approached the Speaker again this morning and had further discussions, with the expertise of Mr Scott,” Mr Furbert said, referring to the Shadow Attorney-General. “We felt that the motion was not sub judice. Currently the Speaker is seeking other advice to see whether we can lay the motion today.”
Mr Scott, a practising lawyer, said that the proceedings underway were civil proceedings, which are permitted to be commented upon.
“The reason for that is because the risk of prejudice is less than in criminal cases where you have a jury,” Mr Scott said, adding that the matter was so serious that it was in the public’s interest.
“I can’t think of a more public matter,” Mr Scott said.
He said Mr Horton had voiced concern at the House “usurping the function of the court”, but that he had argued there was no such risk.
Mr Scott said there was an overriding responsibility incumbent upon legislators to have the matter, which had caused widespread public concern, to be looked into immediately.
Opposition MPs have already approached Government House with their concerns, but Mr Scott said there had to be “constant pressure” to call for an investigation. The case itself is due to proceed in court on Monday, he said.
Mr Furbert noted that Premier Michael Dunkley also has the power to call for a commission of inquiry, follow legislative amendments passed earlier in this session.
He also pointed out that Mr Dunkley, as the Leader of the Opposition in 2006, had called for a commission of inquiry over serious allegations.
“He needs to clear up where his ministers stand,” Mr Furbert said.
It was unclear whether Mr Horton’s ruling would be coming today, which is the final sitting of Parliament this session.
“If we have to wait until September, we’ll wait until September,” Mr Furbert said.