The attorneys representing House of Assembly Speaker, Julian Willock, attempted to have the matter between their client and Mark Vanterpool dismissed in the High Court on Friday.
Vanterpool, who filed the case, is hoping the High Court will rule for him to be sworn in as Fourth District Representative. Willock is hoping for the opposite.
During Friday’s court hearing, the Speaker’s attorneys attempted to have the case thrown out on the premise that Vanterpool did not exhaust all alternative options before seeking judicial review.
According to Anand Ramlogan, one of Willock’s attorneys, a number of alternative options were available such as a by-election or even, perhaps, a motion of no-confidence against the Speaker for refusing to swear in Vanterpool.
The attorney effectively argued that a judicial review was grossly premature and, as such, should not be allowed to continue.
However, Queen’s Counsel Edward Fitzgerald — one of the attorneys representing Vanterpool — counterargued that his client had indeed used all known and reasonable alternatives.
He said a judicial review was the only logical option, especially considering that Attorney General Baba Aziz and Governor Augustus Jaspert have both accepted that the court may decide.
He also said Team Willock’s reason for wanting the case dismissed contradicts the Speaker, who was the one who invited Vanterpool to take the matter to court in the first place.
Vanterpool had no constitutional right to resign when he did
And while stating why his client should be sworn in, Fitzgerald argued that Vanterpool is entitled to take his seat in the House of Assembly because his resignation was constitutionally invalid — an argument to which the attorney general and the governor also agree.
He said his client had no constitutional right to resign before he was sworn-in.
Fitzgerald then quoted Section 67 of the territory’s constitution which in summary states that a resignation must be addressed to the Speaker of the House.
“No letter was ever sent to the Speaker,” said Fitzgerald, who noted that the letter was instead addressed to the Clerk of the House.
Fitzgerald, however, pointed out that Vanterpool did not ‘immediately’ indicate that he wished to retract his resignation after being told by the Clerk of the House that the resignation was invalid. Ramlogan said Vanterpool also did not respond to a letter from the Speaker that said he (Willock) accepted the resignation.
The attorney argued that ‘certain inferences’ could be made in relation to Vanterpool’s so-called protracted ‘silence’ to the Clerk and to the Speaker.
“He could have faxed or attached it (a response) to a pigeon’s foot, but no such thing happened,” argued Ramlogan, who further said, “this is not a case of the Speaker trying to suppress the will of the people”.
Ramlogan added that the will of the people can and should be made clear through a by-election.
It’s his right to resign
The attorney then pointed to Vanterpool’s social media video announcing the resignation. He described that as a ‘personal voluntary and act’., adding that it is Vanterpool’s right to resign anytime he so desires.
The case is set to resume on Saturday at 10:30 am at which time the court will deliver a verdict.
Copyright 2020 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.