Opposition Leader Marlon Penn said he is cautiously optimistic that Speaker of the House Julian Willock will swear in Fourth District member-elect Mark Vanterpool into the House of Assembly.
His comment follows Willock’s request to the High Court to discontinue his case against Vanterpool on Monday, June 17.
“I am happy, first of all, that he finally decided to move on. I mean this is an indication that he will swear in Honourable Vanterpool. But, then again, he said after the court case that he would swear him in and he didn’t. So we still have to wait and see at the next House sitting which I think is supposed to be in July if he will swear him in. But if he does, I think it is a step in the right direction,” Penn said in an interview with BVI News.
The Opposition Leader said it was also unfortunate the people of the territory were the ones who suffered as a result of the legal saga.
“I am happy that common sense has prevailed and the people of the Fourth District will finally get their representation that they voted for on February 25,” he said.
“We are hopeful that we can move forward and do the work of the people. The Opposition has an important role to play in good governance so that we could ensure that the government is held to account for the things that they do, whether good or bad.”
Territory suffered, will have to pay nearly $200K
In the meantime, the Opposition Leader said it was also unfortunate Premier Andrew Fahie had waited for things to escalate before deciding to intervene.
“The people of the Fourth District have had to be without representation for the last three-and-a-half months now. And the cost, my intelligence tells me is they [Willock’s team] have spent over $100,000 plus on this case and Honorable Vanterpool has already spent about $80,000 on his own personal case which based on indications he will be awarded cost.”
He added: “The people of the territory will be paying in the region of $200,000 for a case that all indications were it didn’t need to go where it went to. It is unfortunate that Premier who seems to have stepped in at this late juncture and as the saying goes, a day late and a dollar short.”
When BVI News contacted the Speaker on Thursday morning, he declined to comment.
History of the case
Vanterpool had submitted a resignation letter addressed to the Clerk of the House shortly after being re-elected into office. He changed his mind days after learning that his letter had to be addressed to the Speaker of the House in order for the resignation to be valid.
Willock, however, said he ‘accepted’ Vanterpool’s resignation and refused to swear in the member-elect. Vanterpool later took the matter to court who ruled in his favour. However, Willock filed an appeal to overturn the ruling. That appeal was still before the court when the Premier asked him to swear in Vanterpool.
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