Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Malahoo Forte's stories were total falsehoods

Published:Monday | November 2, 2015 | 11:00 AM

Below is a letter from Floyd Morris, president of the Senate, to senator Tavares-Finson, leader of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives. The letter, written last Thursday, is in response from one from Tavares-Finson in which he asserted that Morris overstepped his authority in suspending Marlene Malahoo Forte from the Senate.

I refer to your letter of today's date. The paragraph in [Erskine] May's [Parliamentary Practice] cited at the bottom of the first page of your letter only says that there is no rule to prevent a member from citing documents in their possession which are not before the House. That is, however, not in issue here, as I did not prevent Senator Malahoo Forte from citing the document, or indeed from purporting to read the letter into the record.

However, when she was asked to produce the letter, both by me and then by the honourable minister of justice, she undertook to do so. Senator Malahoo Forte failed to honour that undertaking last week Thursday, and on the next day of sitting (last week Friday) I directed her to produce the letter in satisfaction of her undertaking to do so.

May's does not say that such a direction is improper in those circumstances. Furthermore, the undertaking that Senator Malahoo Forte gave, and my direction that she comply with it by producing the letter, accord with a long-established convention in the Jamaican Parliament.

It is a convention that makes good sense, since it is easy to concoct the content of a purported document that is being relied on, or to substantially mischaracterise the meaning and intent of a document by engaging in a selective reading of its contents, and thereby mislead the Senate as to the import of the document.

 

STANDING ORDER 4(6)

 

I also refer to Standing Order 4(6), which gives the president authority to make rulings where there are gaps in the Standing Orders, and is therefore pertinent in the context of these events. Having failed over two sittings of the Senate to comply with a directive for the production of the letter that I had properly made as president, Senator Malahoo Forte was duly suspended by a motion that was passed by the members of the Senate, duly constituted, without dissent, in accordance with the Standing Orders.

In the Senate today, I spoke to the sequence of events, and placed on record the relevant timelines of those events, which establish irrefutably that the stories publicly purveyed by Senator Malahoo Forte and several of her colleagues in relation to this matter, were total falsehoods.

These are circumstances, therefore, where the person to whom you wish the apology to be made, has been shown to have acted improperly, having fabricated the stories upon which your request is based. You would surely agree that a demand for apology in such circumstances is entirely groundless, and one will not be made by me. In fact, an apology is owed to the staff of the Parliament for the erroneous statements that have been issued in the public space about the marshall being sent to the bathroom to retrieve the member.

 

RESOLUTION NEEDED

 

Of course, it remains open to you to bring a motion under a relevant Standing Order to seek such redress as you see fit. Indeed, it is in the Senate, rather than through correspondence, that a matter like this should be addressed. I therefore do not intend to enter into further correspondence with respect to this issue and urge you and all the other senators to use the parliamentary mechanisms to resolve this matter. The Senate resumes its sitting tomorrow, and I would welcome your attendance.