Volney threatens court action to prevent being kicked out of Parliament

Herbert Volney
Herbert Volney

PORT OF SPAIN — Former judge Herbert Volney said yesterday he was prepared to face the courts and launch a legal battle to keep his St Joseph seat in the Parliament.

Volney was elected as the St. Joseph Member of Parliament on a United National Congress ticket in the general election of May 2010.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar fired him as the Justice Minister last year following the Section 34 debacle.

On July 30, 2013, Volney resigned as a UNC member and is now aligned with Jack Warner’s Independent Liberal Party.

Last week, Persad-Bissessar disclosed that she wrote to House Speaker Wade Mark querying whether the St. Joseph seat should be declared vacant since Volney has resigned from the UNC.

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said yesterday the provisions of the constitution were clear — that once a member resigns or is expelled from a party on whose ticket he was elected, the Speaker must declare that member’s seat vacant.

The MP, he said, has 14 days to launch a legal challenge and if that is done, the vacancy will not take effect until the legal proceedings are completed.

Speaking to the Express by phone, Volney said he has “plenty court clothes” and was ready to face the courts all the way up to the Privy Council to prevent being kicked out of Parliament.

Volney noted that Section 49 of the constitution states that a member has 14 days to initiate legal action and such an action prevents the unseating of a Member of Parliament until the proceedings are completed.

The MP said on Friday when the Parliament meets, the Speaker is expected to make the declaration with respect to the St. Joseph seat and, “I propose to file an action contesting the Speaker’s action”.

According to the constitution, if the MP takes legal action, he shall cease to perform his duties as a member of the house and shall only resume these if and when the legal proceedings are in his favour.

Volney said he intends to also challenge this as the constitution does not define what the functions of a sitting Member of Parliament are.

“I am entitled to speak and vote so if I am not unseated then there is no constriction,” said Volney.

Volney was in full support of Warner’s move to resign the Chaguanas West seat and seek a fresh mandate from the people through a by-election.

Asked why he does not do the same for his own St. Joseph seat, Volney responded, “Mr. Warner’s seeking re-validation was because of the basis on which he was dismissed from Cabinet and unanswered allegations against him. There isn’t a single allegation against me… I have no re-validation to seek.”

Volney said he was no fool to represent himself in the courts and he already has an attorney in mind to handle the case.

He lambasted Ramlogan, saying the actions of the AG will be a huge expense to the state as the AG “has a lot of friends to give work to”. (Express)

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