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Appeals Court to begin hearing Holness' Senate application today

Published:Monday | March 16, 2015 | 3:37 AM
Andrew Holness

The Appeals Court will today begin hearing an application by the Opposition Leader Andrew Holness who is challenging a lower court's ruling that he breached the Constitution when he sought to have two senators removed in 2013.

The two-day hearing will end tomorrow.

President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Seymour Panton and justices Mahadev Dukharan and Patrick Brooks will preside.

Holness has filed an appeal challenging the February 6 Constitutional Court’s ruling that he was wrong when he used undated, pre-signed resignation letters to remove Dr Christopher Tufton and Arthur Williams from the Senate in November 2013.

The Constitutional Court has ruled that the actions of Holness were unlawful, contrary to public policy and in breach of the Constitution.

It also declared null and void the resignations of Williams, who took the issue to court, and by extension his colleague Tufton.

In his immediate reaction, Holness asserted that the ruling did not affect the composition of the Senate but two days later, he issued a conditional apology at church.

In another twist, Holness surprised even some of his own party members when news came that he had filed an appeal.

Meanwhile, there is uncertainty in the legal fraternity and government over the status of Dr Nigel Clarke and Jamaica College principal Ruel Reid who were appointed in 2013 to replace Tufton and Williams.

The Attorney General Patrick Atkinson had opined that based on the ruling of the Constitutional Court, Tufton and Williams were still senators, but advised the Parliament that the matter could be further clarified in the Supreme Court.

The senate has since applied for a declaration in the matter.

However, that application has been put on hold in light of Holness' appeal and an agreement between the parties involved to have the crisis resolved quickly.