Clerk to withdraw Senate membership petition
THE CLERK to the Houses of Parliament will be moving to discontinue the matter concerning membership in the Senate, which concerned the unlawful exclusion of Dr Christopher Tufton and Arthur Williams from the Upper House of Parliament.
"Having read the judgment of the Court of Appeal, I am clear what the directions are," President of the Senate Floyd Morris told The Gleaner yesterday.
He said that with the court now making it clear who the legitimate senators are, "we are looking at the possibility of withdrawing the petition".
A petition was passed by the Senate in mid-February for the clerk to seek a declaration from the Supreme Court on whether Tufton and Williams should remain senators in light of a ruling from the constitutional court that pre-signed, undated letters submitted to the governor general by Opposition Leader Andrew Holness was not valid.
"Based on the recent decision of the Appeal Court and direction from the judges, we have some clarity in the matter as it relates to membership, and, in that regard, I want to take the opportunity to welcome back to the Senate Senators Arthur Williams and Christopher Tufton and to wish for both gentlemen all the best in the renewed effort to represent their country at this august institution," Morris said.
"I am very heartened and very appreciative of the fact that this matter has been laid to rest and there is greater clarity," he added.
The Court of Appeal upheld a decision of the Constitutional Court that the scheme used by Holness was unconstitutional. It said further that Tufton and Williams should take their seats.
Justice Minister Mark Golding said the Government is "relieved and thankful that the frankly dangerous unconstitutional escapade that led to their unlawful exclusion from their seats in the Senate has now been put to rest".
Tufton said that the actions that gave rise to his and Williams' unlawful dismissal from the Senate should be a learning experience for all senators.
"The extent to which I may have contributed to the process that has led to the conclusion that we have had to depend on the court to resolve, it is regrettable, and I am sorry for that," he said.
"It represents one of the experiences in my political life that I will always regret," Tufton added.