Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Hay-Webster wants to secure her pension

Published:Thursday | July 7, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

AS THE Member of Parliament (MP) for South Central St Catherine Sharon Hay-Webster prepares to enter Gordon House as an independent member for the first time in her political career, there are suggestions that she is not only battling the People's National Party (PNP), but also her rights to her pension.

Some political and legal observers are of the view that if Hay-Webster fails in her legal battle, she could be disqualified retroactively as an MP to December 18, 1997, as she would have had that (dual citizenship) status to begin with.

This would also automati-cally disqualify her from pension entitlements.

Hay-Webster, who won her seat for the first time in December 1997, will be the second politician in 19 years to sit as an independent member.

She has flatly dismissed the suggestion that she is not entitled to a parliamentary pension.

"As far as I am aware, I have done three terms, you do two terms to earn pension, so the term that is in question is August 2, 2007," Hay-Webster told The Gleaner.

The threat of pension revoca-tion is not new to sitting Parliamentarians.

The issue surfaced when the former Member of Parliament for North East St Catherine, Phyllis Mitchell, was booted from the constituency after a legal challenge from Abe Dadoub following the 1997 general election.

The PNP had to make arrangements for Phyllis Mitchell to retain entitlement of her pension.

Some legal and political observers are suggesting that it is wrong for an embarrassed PNP to be treating Hay-Webster any differently from the MP for North East St Elizabeth, Kern Spencer, who has been charged with fraud, as both matters are before the court.

Attorney Bert Samuels concedes that there are two challenges that confront the PNP and Hay-Webster at this time.

He said the first relates to the party taking a principled position in respect of the dual-citizenship issue. "It creates a difficulty for them to not apply that principle to her, but there is not an equivalent in the Jamaica Labour Party in relation to the Kern Spencer situation, save and except for Joseph Hibbert; but he has not been charged."

On the other hand, Samuels noted that some legal minds are of the view that the moral and principled position is to await the declaration of the courts, because Hay-Webster's case is distinct from the others.

Hay-Webster resigned from the PNP recently, after a WikiLeaks cable revealed that she had withdrawn the application to revoke her United States citizenship.