BLP not budging on seven day ultimatum
With a one week ultimatum issued by Christ Church West MP Dr Maria Agard due to expire on Wednesday, the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is sticking to its decision to expel her from the party.
Last Wednesday, Dr Agard’s attorney Hal Gollop, QC, told a news conference he had hand-delivered a letter to BLP headquarters on Roebuck Street, St Michael, demanding that the decision made by the Mia Mottley-led National Council be reversed within seven days, or else the matter would be taken to court.
However, the party does not appear to be budging, with BLP General Secretary Dr Jerome Walcott telling Barbados TODAY this afternoon, he had not gotten around to replying to the letter, even though he admitted to reading it.
“I saw the letter and I read it,” Dr Walcott said, stressing that nothing had changed regarding the decision.
“The status quo continues. Everything remains. The last thing we said was that the National Council had met and had expelled Dr Maria Agard. I hear Dr Agard says she is going to court . . . [and] I heard Mr Hal Gollop say he did the routine . . . I think you were there, he [said he] sent a letter,” he added.
The BLP General Secretary also questioned the move by Gollop to give the party a written ultimatum when his client had already indicated that she intended to take the matter to court.
“You didn’t find it strange that Dr Agard say she was going to court and then later on the attorney said he wrote me a letter? You didn’t find that strange? You thought that was proper? You thought that was correct?” Dr Walcott asked, insisting that the embattled Christ Church West MP had already announced what she was planning to do.
“I can’t change that.”
Pressed to say if he planned to respond to the letter from Dr Agard’s attorney, the BLP spokesman gave a terse and non-committal response.
“I have read the letter, full stop.”
Dr Walcott also denied reports that a move was afoot to get the party’s elders to intervene to prevent the matter from ending up in the high court and to broker an amicable resolution.
However, he acknowledged that former Attorney General and MP for Christ Church West Sir Henry Forde had been proposed to lead a reconciliation effort back in February, which he said was rejected by Dr Agard.
“As far as I know, nothing has changed,” Dr Walcott said in further reference to her expulsion.
The November 22 decision of the BLP’s National Council to dismiss the Christ Church West MP was said to be based on nine “fundamental” charges.
“At the very heart of it, they go to the respect for the authority of organs of the party, that are critical to its functioning as a mass-based political organization – in other words, the failure of Dr Agard to recognize the legitimacy of a democratically elected branch of this party – her own branch,” explained Mottley in a statement following the decision.
“They speak to the failure of Dr Agard to be guided by the party’s Council – not to further speak to the media on this matter, so as to allow for reconciliation between herself and her branch.
They also speak to her inappropriate conduct, whether in misconstruing the facts in the media or offensive profanities posted on social media,” the party leader added.
However, describing the charges as frivolous, Dr Agard, whose dismissal has led to splits in the party, said last week as far as she was concerned, she was fired because she dared to be different and challenged the conduct of Mottley, whose leadership she described as “tyrannical” and “autocratic”, and who she accused of using “bullying tactics”.
Dr Agard wants the court to rule on whether the decision by the National Council to expel her was fair or lawful.
When contacted today, Gollop confirmed he had not received a response from the BLP to the letter delivered five days ago.
The outspoken attorney is already on record expressing confidence that any legal action brought by his client would be successful.