Residents will soon find out whether the legal battle in relation to electoral representation for the Fourth District is being funded with taxpayer dollars.
This is among questions that Opposition Leader Marlon Penn intends to put to the Premier and Minister for Finance Andrew Fahie at Friday’s sitting of the House of Assembly.
According to the order paper of the proceedings, Penn will ask: “If the answer is yes, what is the estimated cost of said legal fees [and] the amount billed and paid thus far for a said legal case?”
On the other hand, if the legal fees are not being paid by the territory, Penn is seeking answers about how legal services for the Speaker of the House were retained and how the legal fees will be paid.
Meanwhile, Penn is also seeking to further inquire whether the government is assisting the said Speaker, Julian Willock, to cover the cost of the case which is now before the Court of Appeal. His third question is on whether the Premier has had any discussions with the Speaker about his decision not to swear in Mark Vanterpool in light of the initial High Court ruling.
“If so, could the Honourable Premier tell this Honourable House what is his position on the matter and whether it was shared with the Honourable Speaker?”
History of the case
The controversy surrounding Vanterpool began on March 5 after he submitted a resignation letter following his victory in retaining the Fourth District seat.
After submitting the letter, he was advised that the letter should have been addressed to the Speaker of the House and not the Clerk.
Vanterpool then had a change of heart and requested in a second letter to be sworn-in. However, Willock acknowledged the letter and refused to have Vanterpool sworn-in. Willock said he already accepted the resignation, even after the territory’s Attorney General, as well as the governor, concluded that Vanterpool’s resignation was ‘constitutionally invalid’.
The matter went to court, and the court ruled Vanterpool should be sworn in. However, the Speaker has decided to toss Justice Ann-Marie Smith’s ruling aside and appeal the matter.
Both Willock and Vanterpool retained prominent legal representatives to represent their sides in court. Willock retained the services of Veritas Law, a firm owned by Valston Graham — the Director of Public Prosecutions in St Kitts.