The Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony, has advised the Leader of the Opposition to apologize to the Speaker of the House of Assembly at the soonest.
He did so in reply to the letter written to him by the Leader of the Opposition on the matter of the appointment of Counsel to the Commission of Inquiry into the operations of the Fire Service. For ease of reference, the full text of the letter is reproduced below.
“Dear Leader of the Opposition,
I write to acknowledge and respond to your letter dated January 07, 2013. I am delighted to do so.
I note that your letter was the subject of a Press Release issued by your party, the United Workers Party, on January 10, 2013. The release was given wide coverage in the domestic as well as the regional media. I trust, therefore, that you will have no objection to my decision to issue my response to the media as well.
I welcome your support for the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry into the management of the Saint Lucia Fire Service. However, it is regrettable that despite the fact that the problems of the Fire Service were drawn to your attention on several occasions during your tenure in office as Prime Minister, you, just as consistently, neglected to take action to resolve the problems.
Consequently, once again, it is left to this Government to take action on an issue which you had a duty to resolve. But, as stated earlier, I am glad that you support the decision of the Government to mount this Inquiry.
It is vitally important that when you seek to invoke the law to address matters of state that you get the law right. Errors can be costly, as in this instance. The Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Peter Foster Q.C., has committed no breach of the House of Assembly (Contracts with Government) (Disqualification) Act, Chap. 1.09, Revised Laws of Saint Lucia, 2008.
This Act only applies to persons seeking election to the House of Assembly or to a sitting member of the House of Assembly who has breached the Act for failure to disclose an interest in a contract made with the Government. Mr. Foster is not an elected parliamentarian. As far as I am aware, there is not pending, any election to which he is eligible to seek election. Therefore, there is no “obvious” conflict of interest as claimed by you. For elucidation, I invite you to examine section 3 and in particular, sub-sections 3 and 4 of the Act.
More importantly, I wish to share with you that Mr. Foster’s Chambers behaved with honor, dignity and character. Mr. Foster was not retained by the Government. There never was any discussion with Mr. Foster on this matter. The Government invited his colleague, Ms. Renee St Rose, to be the lawyer for the Commission.
A few days after the offer of appointment, Ms. St Rose advised that the counsel for the Chief Fire Officer informed her that his client had filed a lawsuit against DBS for defamation. Since Mr. Foster’s Chambers represented DBS there was, suggested the Attorney for the Chief Fire Officer, the “potential” for conflict of interest in the sense of bias against the Chief Fire Officer. She therefore offered to stand down, on her own volition. The Government believed that the real likelihood of bias in this instance was remote and farfetched but to avoid any delay in commencing the inquiry, accepted her decision. No contract had been signed. No contract was in existence.
Frankly, you have committed a serious error of judgment, brought the reputation of the Speaker of the House of Assembly into disrepute and caused serious injury to Mr. Peter Foster Q.C. In the circumstances, I would advise you to apologize to Mr. Foster at your soonest.
Finally, I noted your comment that you are sending a copy of your letter “to Her Excellency for possible guidance”. I do not know what you meant by this. Suffice it to say that as a former Prime Minister, you should appreciate by now that it is inappropriate to draw Her Excellency into personal vendettas against particular individuals or into political skirmishes to earn political points. Moreover, it is even more disconcerting when communication to Her Excellency discloses and involves grave and serious errors of interpretation of the law. ”
No member of parliament should seek to mislead the Governor General as you have done.