We will not be muzzled!
Williams, Tufton assert that they will not be silenced in the House
Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
RETURNED OPPOSITION members of the Upper House, Dr Christopher Tufton and Arthur Williams, have made it clear that they will not be muzzled at the next sitting of the Senate even if the Supreme Court has not made a declaration on a petition to ascertain whether they remain senators, in accordance with the Constitution.
Yesterday, both senators, who took their seats in the Upper House, were disappointed that Senate President Floyd Morris did not allow them to make a statement on their return following a ruling from the Constitutional Court in the Arthur Williams v Andrew Holness matter. Both senators had asked to be allowed to speak on the motion of adjournment. On Thursday, Attorney General Patrick Atkinson opined that Tufton and Williams remain senators.
In a Gleaner interview, Williams said he would not back down from participating in any debate at subsequent meetings of the Senate, whether or not the Supreme Court has responded to the petition. Asked what his reaction would be if attempts are made to keep him quiet, Williams declared: "There is a pastor that once said 'bawl out'."
Tufton shared a similar view to his colleague, noting that he did not intend "to continue in this code of silence as is being suggested by the president. I am not sure what his intentions are, but once I am in this House representing the people of Jamaica, I intend to speak, and speak in a considered way for the benefit of the people of Jamaica. I allowed today to pass, still under protest, but this is not something that is going to continue beyond the next sitting of the Senate."
Williams also appears to be unperturbed by the Senate president's decision to hear from the Supreme Court in relation to his status. According to Williams, who is an attorney-at-law, "No decision that goes before a judge of the Supreme Court can overrule the three judges of the constitutional court. It is not possible."
UNDATED RESIGNATION LETTERS
Both senators were removed from the Senate after Opposition Leader Andrew Holness used undated resignation letters signed by Tufton and Williams to replace them with educator Ruel Reid and businessman Nigel Clarke.
Clarke and Reid did not show up at yesterday's sitting of the Senate, which adjourned minutes after it started, following a one-hour delay.
In his opening remarks, Morris said that up to yesterday, he had not received any formal indication of the ruling from the Supreme Court.
Leader of government business in the Senate AJ Nicholson moved the resolution titled 'Parliament (Membership Questions) Petition' which seeks answers from the Supreme Court in relation to whether Tufton and Williams are still senators.
The resolution indicates that the Senate requires direction as to the practical application of this judgement (The Supreme Court) to the composition of the Senate.
The Supreme Court is being asked to respond to the following questions:
a) Are Arthur Williams and Dr Christopher Tufton subsisting members of the Senate in accordance with the Constitution of Jamaica?
b) If the answer to (a) above is yes, were the purported appointments of Dr Nigel Clarke and Ruel Reid as members of the Senate null and void?
c) If the answer to (a) above is no, were the purported appointments of Dr Nigel Clarke and Ruel Reid as members of the Senate valid and effective, and do they remain members of the Senate in accordance with the Constitution of Jamaica?