Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Public Defender to know May if she will join gay rights case

Published:Thursday | February 23, 2017 | 2:54 PM

Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry will know in three months whether she will get the chance to join the case in which a gay man is challenging the constitutionality of the buggery law.

The Court of Appeal this afternoon said on May 26 it will hand down its decision in the appeal brought by Harrison Henry against a Supreme Court decision barring her from appearing in the case filed by gay rights activist Maurice Tomlinson.

The Supreme Court had said the Public Defender should not be allowed to join the case as an interested party because of the potential impact on public confidence in her office.

The Appeal Court hearings which started yesterday ended with submissions from Solicitor General Nicole Foster-Pusey today.

Foster-Pusey is representing the Attorney General who is opposing the Public Defender's desire to be allowed to join the gay law case.

Foster-Pusey argues that there's no provision in the Public Defender Interim Act to support the office participating in a court case.

She said it does not matter whether the Public Defender will take a side or be neutral.

The Solicitor General contended that the law only allows the Public Defender to facilitate a complainant getting legal representation to take a matter to the court.

Yesterday, the Public Defender argued that the law establishing her office makes it clear that she has a duty to protect and enforce the rights of all citizens.

Lord Anthony Gifford who is representing the Public Defender has also rejected the argument from the Solicitor General that the Public Defender's role is limited to investigations.