House of Assembly (HOA) members jointly represented by Silk Legal in the Commission of Inquiry (COI) were not consulted before Speaker Julian Willock instructed the law firm to file a court injunction against COI attorneys.
Despite the Speaker’s claims otherwise, Opposition legislator Melvin Turnbull — who is also one of Silk Legal’s clients — said Willock did not act on behalf of the House’s behalf when he filed the costly injunction that was ultimately withdrawn.
“We received notice that this (the injunction) is what was being done. However, there was no discussion or debate about such. It was the Speaker … I don’t want to say and I don’t know in what capacity, but the Speaker is the one that stated what was going to be done. The next thing I saw was a press conference,” Turnbull said in an invited comment.
“It has to be supported or more than likely supported by the Premier and his Cabinet [who are represented in the COI by a separate law firm]. Because, as far as I am aware, I didn’t have any conversations and I know others did not have any regarding this injunction. Even to the point when it was then repealed there was no discussion in that way,” the Second District Representative added.
His statement comes ahead of the debate on whether the HOA should pass the burden of Willock’s legal fees of up to $121,000 to taxpayers.
Willock’s emergency meeting asking for support
Turnbull said there was an informal emergency meeting called approximately three weeks ago. At the time, Willock asked for members’ opinions and support on the legal fees. However, Turnbull said wrote to the Speaker afterwards stating that he cannot, in a good sense, support the government’s decision to exempt Willock from the legal fees.
“Now with this footing of the cost, I do not support it and I’m not going to support it because I believe what was done was not done on behalf of the House of Assembly. These discussions and decisions that were made were made void of myself. When he had that meeting, I voted no then and my position is still that. I don’t believe we can make a determination that the government should pay the legal fees when the court has ordered that he (Willock) should pay,” Turnbull said.
On Thursday, October 28, Premier Andrew Fahie had moved a motion in the sitting of the House of Assembly to exempt Willock from paying up to $121,000 in legal fees for the failed injunction case ordered by the High Court.
Since the motion was moved, an online petition for Willock to pay the fees has received resounding support.
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