More than a quarter-million of taxpayer dollars could be used to pay for House of Assembly Speaker, Julian Willock’s now-concluded court case against Fourth District Representative Mark Vanterpool.
Premier Andrew Fahie gave that confirmation in response to questions from Opposition Leader Marlon Penn in the House of Assembly on Wednesday.
“The legal fees incurred to date is at $270,526.90. The amount billed to date is $270,526.90. The amount paid is $130,525.20 because … the matter is still in court but there are certain fees that could be paid straight away,” the Premier said.
Despite the actual case being discontinued at the request of Willock, Premier Fahie said the matter is still before the court because of a dispute over legal fees.
Fahie said government is waiting to find out whether it will be made to foot the balance of the bill or whether ‘other individuals’ will pay.
“Mr Vanterpool’s first case for judicial review against the Speaker was dismissed by the High Court on 13th April 2019 with no orders as to cost. His second claim was allowed and the court is yet to rule on the question of legal cost,” said Fahie who is also the Finance Minister.
He also explained that taxpayer dollars are being used to pay the bill only because the Attorney General was not able to represent Speaker Willock.
The Attorney General was ruled out of representing Willock because of a “conflict of interest”.
“Mr Vanterpool filed two claims against the Honourable Speaker with the Attorney General as an interested party. Unfortunately, the Attorney General could not represent the Speaker because he had given certain advice to Mr Vanterpool. Furthermore, the Attorney General was himself sued as an independent party in the case.”
He added: “The Speaker was therefore compelled to seek independent legal representation to avoid any conflict of interest and ethical issues that could arise.”
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