Shocking and absolutely callous!
That’s how Dr Maria Agard’s lead attorney Hal Gollop, QC, tonight described the decision of the Mia Mottley-led National Council to expel his client from the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
In an unprecedented move, Dr Agard, who was elected in the last election as the BLP’s representative for Christ Church West, has become the first sitting member of the Barbados Parliament to be expelled from a party.
Mottley made the shocking announcement just after 8 p.m. at the party’s Roebuck Street, St Michael headquarters, moments after Dr Agard, along with her attorneys Gollop and Lynette Eastmond, walked out of a scheduled meeting with the BLP’s National Council, at which the MP was set to answer nine charges.
Dr Agard was not immediately available for a comment. However, her legal representative Gollop expressed surprise that the disciplinary move had been made by BLP top officials in her absence.
He maintained that the Christ Church West MP had not been given a fair opportunity to defend herself.
“Those people who brought the charges against Dr Agard cannot sit on the National Council,” Gollop argued in reference to members of the group, including the BLP’s General Secretary Dr Jerome Walcott who is said to have eyes on Dr Agard’s Christ Church West seat.
“It is clear that the party is not interested in observing the rules of natural justice and that is a very, very serious indictment which one can place on a party which hopes to be a Government of Barbados; that it is so callous and shows disrespect for observation in the rules of natural justice.
“I am very, very surprised about this . . . once you are seeking to discipline a member of the party, you have to accord that person natural justice, so I’m really surprised they would take a decision like that, especially in her absence,” he argued.
The prominent lawyer said he would be waiting on advice from Dr Agard before taking any further action, but he did not rule out the possibility of the matter reaching the law courts.
Earlier, Mottley announced that “this evening the National Council of the BLP after hearing the charges presented and the statements from Dr Maria Agard as she chose not to be present for the rest of the hearing, and her attorneys-at-law Mr Hal Gollop and Ms Lynette Eastmond, have determined that she should be expelled from the BLP as provided for by our constitution.”
She told members of the media in a packed, standing room only conference room: “…It is truly regrettable that Dr Agard, Mr Gollop and Ms Eastmond refused the opportunity to address these charges in detail.
“Believe you me, this has not been an easy decision, nor has it been an easy route, and it is not one in which we delight,” the Opposition Leader said.
Mottley insisted the decision to expel Dr Agard had been a last resort, and was agreed upon only after repeated attempts at reconciliation had failed.
She contended that at no time did Dr Agard try to find a resolution to the situation.
However, in defence of her own handling of the matter, Mottley, whose leadership has been called into question over the entire affair, said: “I have treated to this matter with a view to reconciliation first and foremost. For once one is dealing with a breakdown of human relationships this must always be the first option, however difficult.
“If, as happens in families, the Church, and the workplace, reconciliation and discipline become impossible, then we must act decisively for the greater good, especially where time becomes a critical factor . . . therefore, what some have viewed as indecisiveness has really been compassion and empathy,” Mottley said.
She also disputed Gollop’s claims that the nine charges against Dr Agard had been brought by the National Council, saying they were actually brought by Dr Walcott, in his capacity as general secretary of the BLP.
Mottley also promised BLP supporters that “extensive consultation would be made with them before a new representative was chosen”.