JLP more divided
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
A meeting of the parliamentary group of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is scheduled to be held today after a flurry of meetings yesterday failed to suture a fresh gash in the already wounded organisation, inflicted by last Friday's ruling of the Constitutional Court.
The rift appeared to widen late yesterday despite the frenetic activities involving functionaries of the party that failed to bring about a resolution.
The Constitutional Court ruled last Friday that JLP Leader Andrew Holness was wrong in activating predated letters of resignation to boot Arthur Williams and Dr Christopher Tufton from the Senate.
The court ruled that the request, procurement and use of pre-signed and undated letters of resignation was inconsistent with the Constitution.
The letter was crafted by Williams, a second-generation politician and a lawyer by profession, who took Holness to court after it was used against him in 2013.
With the court ruling in his favour in the legal battle he had waged against the JLP leader, Williams' attorney Wentworth Charles signalled that Williams will be turning up at Friday's Senate sitting, to reclaim his place.
"In keeping with the order of the court, today, we wrote on our client's behalf to the president of the Senate, Floyd Morris, advising him of the judgement of the court and the orders made thereunder," said Charles.
"And we expect that at the next meeting of the Senate, our client will be recognised according to the order of the court," Charles added.
Williams told The Gleaner that he has received a call from Holness, after the party leader apologised publicly to Williams and Tufton at a service of the Boulevard Baptist Church on Sunday.
Neither Williams nor Tufton, who was off the island, was present at the service.
Tufton, the other senator who was relieved of his place in the Upper House, told The Gleaner that he will be seeking additional counsel before commenting on the matter.
"It is an important judgement and one that cannot be ignored," said Tufton, minutes after he arrived in the island late yesterday."
He promised to speak on the matter in a more fulsome way today.
A team of so-called 'Wise Men of the JLP' - Karl Samuda, Mike Henry, Pearnel Charles, Derrick Smith and Ken Baugh - met with veteran politicians Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, Audley Shaw, Andrew Holness and Harold Brady but failed to yield a unifying solution to the impasse.
The Gleaner was told that a "legal" opinion proffered in the high-level meeting, that there was no need for Holness to apologise as the judgment of the court was "straightforward and he (Holness) did "nothing wrong" was met with some resistance that erupted in an angry exchanges.
Insiders disclosed that Holness continued to throw the blame on Williams although he had publicly apologised on Sunday, to Williams and Tufton for booting them from the Senate. Holness kicked them out in the aftermath of his election victory against Shaw who challenged him in a leadership race in December 2013. But he promised to be guided by law, after the Constitutional Court ruled that he was wrong in the matter brought against him by Williams.
At yesterday's high-level meeting, while Samuda asked probing questions, he has pledged his support for Holness, with Shaw suggesting that he needed legal guidance on the matter before proceeding, a well-placed source revealed.
After that meeting, the newly established Council of Spokespersons of the Jamaica Labour Party were summoned to an emergency meeting at the party's Belmont Road office that went until late afternoon.
The need for meetings within the JLP came after Delroy Chuck, the member of parliament for North East St Andrew, wrote to Leader of Opposition Business Derrick Smith.
"I have read the judgments in the above-mentioned case and consider the matter to be of urgent national importance", wrote Chuck, who is a lawyer by profession.
Said Chuck: "In the Westminster system of government, any constitutional office holder - be it prime minister, leader of the opposition, speaker of the House, chief justice or others - who the court rules or declares to act unlawfully and unconstitutionally, would be obliged in all good conscience and honour to tender his or her resignation unless there are good and compelling reasons not to do so," he added:
"I ask that you call an urgent meeting of all Opposition MPs to consider the matter."