Stating that the High Court had no power to grant redress to Mark Vanterpool, Speaker of the House of Assembly (HoA) Julian Willock is contending that parliament should decide whether Vanterpool should be sworn in as Fourth District Representative.
Willock’s position was made clear through his appeal of the High Court’s ruling on Tuesday.
He said there were several areas that the court “erred” in its judgement that favoured Vanterpool. He said those errors, therefore, warrants an appeal.
Pointing to the court’s ruling that Vanterpool’s resignation was invalid and that Vanterpool ‘had no constitutional right to resign between the time he was elected and the date on which the HoA convened’, Willock argued that the court’s decision was “contrary to law and against the weight of the evidence”.
In the court documents outlining the appeal, Willock said the court erred when they determined that Vanterpool’s letter to the Clerk of the House was ‘not constitutionally recognized’ and that Willock accepting the letter ‘did not create a vacancy in the House’.
The appeal document further said: “The court erred in placing reliance on the uncorroborated evidence of Mr Vanterpool that he had received many calls from his constituents expressing concern and asking him to reconsider his resignation. Such evidence was irrelevant to the legal issue of the constitutional validity of his resignation.”
“Having correctly found that ‘this was compelling as any case for the matter to have been dealt with by the House on a whole’ and that ‘it is doubtful whether the Speaker could unilaterally by acceptance or a declaration determine that a vacancy exists and proceed to exclude a member of the HoA without a formal proceeding of the HoA, the learned judge erred by proceeding to grant substantive relief instead of remitting the matter to the HoA for it to determine,” the documents further said.
As such, Willock said he believes the court failed to have any proper regard to the undisputed evidence that Willock was prepared to put the issue to parliament, where the party he supports — the VIP — holds the majority.
“The court had no power and or jurisdiction to ‘grant the redress sought’ by [Vanterpool]. Likewise, it had no power and or jurisdiction to order/direct that [Vanterpool] be sworn in as the representative of the Fourth Electoral District. The court’s jurisdiction was limited to determining the question on whether [Vanterpool] had vacated his seat in the House with the grant of appropriate declaratory relief,” the document said.
In light of the above, Willock’s appeal is that the judge’s orders be ‘set aside’ and the claim ‘dismissed’. The Speaker also wants Vanterpool to pay his (Willock’s) legal fees.
Notably Willock was the one who first suggested that the matter be brought before the courts.
Not a personal attack on Vanterpool
And in a statement following the appeal, Willock said he was not being malicious in his decision to appeal the ruling.
“An appeal against the decision ought not to be viewed as a personal attack on Mr Vanterpool. The acts of Mr Vanterpool have caused great concern and raises important points of law which a Court of competent jurisdiction ought to be allowed to discuss and decide upon,” the Speaker said through his attorneys at Veritas Law.
He added: “If the decision to appeal is proved right, this would set new ground for countries with similar provisions in their constitutions and a deeper understanding of our very own constitution.”
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