For Immediate Release
24 November 2020
I take note of the comments of Michael Scott Q.C. Mr. Scott is Chairman of the Hotel Corporation, a public body. I also note the comments of John Wilson Q.C. Mr. Wilson is a partner in the former firm of the Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Moree.
I am constrained by a disability in that I do not have the post nominals to wave, but the point is a rather basic constitutional law point which both these learned men seemed to have either forgotten or missed.
There are some bothersome unwritten rules called conventions of the constitution. They are really common sense when you think about it. One such convention is that a Minister and a public official must not have a conflict between their private duty and public duty. Another is that a Minister is responsible to Parliament for his personal conduct and that of his department or ministry.
Where and when the two clash, the official must choose his public duty over his private interest. If he chooses his private interest over his public duty, then he must give up the public duty. Mr. Scott seems to have missed that lesson in law school.
As for Mr. Wilson, he too misses the point. The Minister is the Minister of Finance who writes inter alia the cheques to keep the Hotel Corporation going. So the Chairman of the Hotel Corporation in his supposed private character has said in discharging his duty to the courts that the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance is a fraudster. How pray tell, tested or not, are these two public officials to coexist side by side with each calling the other a prevaricator.
This I submit is unsustainable. Now in our system the Prime Minister has the power to waive these obvious conflicts of both men between their private interests and their public duties.
It will be interesting to see how the conflict is resolved. Given the Prime Minister's previous sanctimonious comments about ethics in public office, it seems to the PLP that the honourable event must happen.
So long, good bye.