Ian 'Magic' Hughes
Monday, 26 October 2009 05:55
By Ian Magic Hughes
If anyone has ever questioned whether the ruling United Progressive party is disjointed, Senator Colin Derrick gave the answer. In a statement issued last week, Derrick chastised Attorney General Justin Simon and Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer.
According to him, both Spencer and Simon failed the people of the nation by not filing criminal charges against members of the opposition Antigua Labour Party. That statement, true or false, one would have thought would have been issued via an internal memo.
Well, the dirty laundry is out in the open, and Spencer and Simon have been found wanting. Derrick, who once held the post of minister of justice, is well positioned to speak on this matter, and he did, unwaveringly.
“When I held ministerial office of Minister of Justice and Public Safety, investigations were done and at the conclusion prosecutions became a viable course to adopt,” he said in a statement.
The million dollar question must be, why did Prime Minister Spencer and Simon fail to carry out their mandate? In addition, what should happen if it’s proven that they did in fact act against the will of the people?
First of all, the prime minister was elected by the people, but Simon was not. So should Simon be fired, and the people hold the prime minister in contempt and make a suitable decision next time around?
Frankly, next time may be sooner than we think, but in any case, Derrick’s statement may signal the end of the prime minister. Let’s all wait and see. Anyway, it was rather interesting what Derrick had to say. There have been loads of accusations levelled at Prime Minister Spencer and Simon.
In spite of the UPP’s call for justice, did they ever intend to carry through with any criminal proceedings?
If not, one can reasonably conclude that the commission of inquiry was simply a smoke-screen sent up by Simon with the prime minister’s knowledge. Amazing.
Derrick’s statement suggests that Prime Minister Spencer and Simon took the people for a ride in refusing to file criminal charges against ALP members.
“It would appear that having regard to the amount of investigations which were done and the legal advice which was received, steps should be taken to prosecute those responsible for the losses suffered by the people," he said. "The losses suffered are estimated to be in the millions of dollars, all of which passed into the pockets of persons who on the evidence were likely to be convicted of the most serious criminal offences if they were competently prosecuted. Regrettably, there have been efforts to stultify the prosecution of those who are responsible for the people’s losses."
So, rather than filing criminal charges, Simon went the route of a commission of inquiry, which is yet to take place. The inquiry may never take place, and at the same time taxpayers will still be left with a huge bill to pay. Added to that, Derrick is of the view that members of the ALP defrauded the taxpayers of large sums of money. Talk about a double "whammy" and this is certainly it.
Derrick believes that Simon knew that the commission would not have happened, yet he insisted on it. He quoted the attorney general in an earlier statement which indicated he had full knowledge that those accused of fraud would do all in their power to derail the commission of inquiry.
Derrick statement read as follows: “In the statement he gave an unconditional guarantee in respect of the proposed Commission of Inquiry namely: I guarantee that Lester Bird and others will seek ways and means to delay or derail the process as they have done over the past three years, seeking the aid of the very legal process which must, in the wider interest of justice, lend an ear to every litigant who petitions its determination.’”
Derrick’s statement suggests that Simon deceived the people by going a route he fully recognized was doomed to failure.
“This, to me, indicates that the Honourable Attorney General knew of the plan of members of the ALP to derail the process of the Inquiry. He did not say whether or not he informed the Honourable Prime Minister of his knowledge of such a plan. As the Government’s Chief Legal Adviser one would expect that he was constrained by his office to inform the Honourable Prime Minister of his knowledge and the grounds of such a plan. Anything less would have been a dereliction of duty on his behalf.
“The facts to date confirm that the Honourable Attorney General was correct in the guarantee which he gave to the Nation. The Inquiry was stopped in its tracks immediately after the persons chosen to preside over its proceedings were sworn in."
The former minister of justice did not stop there. As a matter of fact, he issued an ultimatum to the PM and the AG.
“Prime Minister, God is good. He does move in mysterious ways his wonders to perform. In the stalemate of the present circumstances He has provided you with a second opportunity to put what is wrong right. It is said Prime Minister that the voice of the people is the voice of God. Do the right thing by the people.
“Quash the frozen Commission of Inquiry immediately and proceed with the laying of criminal charges against the perpetrators of the fraud against the people in the IHI matter,” Derrick instructed.
The PM’s failure to adhere to Derrick’s instructions sends a clear message that political fraud is okay.
“The failure to prosecute the offenders in the first place ensures the losses be suffered by the people, and sends a message to all the fraudulent political miscreants involved in financial crimes that they will go free to and be able to continue in the political process where their fraudulent, criminal financial activities can continue in the event they hold political power in the future,” Derrick said.
There is one other question that must be asked: why is Derrick making such allegations public?
Did he seek internal justification that fell on deaf ears, or does he have an axe to grind?
Whatever the answer is, the taxpayers of this country have been on the short end of the stick for too long. Something has to be done to increase the public’s trust in the people who were elected to lead. Anything else would be uncivilized.
In Derrick’s own words, “Crime after Crime should not go unpunished. I trust that my Prime Minister, the Honourable Attorney General and my Government will in the circumstances, and the current stalemate, stay true to our campaign promises and display the fortitude to do what is right in the interest of the people and indeed the Nation, and not display any cowardly acts to shun away from doing what is right and expected of them.
“We should all remember that history repeatedly reveals that Evil prospers when Good men stay silent and do not exhibit the courage to do what in all conscience is the right thing.
“The political and other prominent public miscreants should be made to appear before the bar of criminal justice. I together with the remainder of the Nation await the outcome.”
Surely the prime minister and the attorney general have a lot to answer to in this particular matter.