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Appeal Court to decide on speed of Senate seat hearing

Published:Wednesday | March 4, 2015 | 12:00 AMBarbara Gayle
Dr Christopher Tufton (left) and Arthur Williams in the Senate on their return recently.

The parties involved in the ongoing dispute over two Senate seats are urging the Court of Appeal to give a speedy hearing in the appeal brought by Opposition Leader Andrew Holness so as to bring finality to the matter.

Justice Seymour Panton, president of the Court of Appeal, is to decide today if there will be an expedited hearing.

The parties took the decision yesterday to go to the Court of Appeal when the application by the clerk to the Houses of Parliament, Heather Cooke, came before the Supreme Court.

If the Appeal Court decides to have an expedited hearing, it is expected that the application in the Supreme Court will be withdrawn.

Cooke is asking for a determination as to whether Arthur Williams and Dr Christopher Tufton are still senators. She also wants the court to pronounce on the status of businessman Dr Nigel Clarke and Jamaica College principal Ruel Reid, who had replaced Williams and Tufton.

Following the deci-sion by the Court of Appeal, lawyers representing the parties are to return to the Supreme Court tomorrow afternoon, where a determination is to be made regarding the matter before that court.

Queen's Counsel Michael Hylton, who is representing the clerk to the Houses of Parliament, said the sole purpose of the request to the Court of Appeal is to have the matter disposed of expeditiously.

Attorney-at-law Wentworth Charles, who is representing Williams and Tufton, said the parties would like the Court of Appeal to hear Holness' case as that would resolve the matter.

Holness is challenging the Constitutional Court ruling last month that the undated and pre-signed letters used to oust Williams and Tufton from the Senate in November 2013 is inconsistent with the Constitution, contrary to public policy, unlawful and accordingly null and void.

Williams had taken the matter to the Constitutional Court.