Dr Agard to file suit against BLP tomorrow
The National Council of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) has reportedly been meeting tonight to reaffirm its decision to expel Christ Church West MP Dr Maria Agard, even as Dr Agard’s lawyers prepared to file a lawsuit in the High Court tomorrow morning challenging her expulsion.
Writs will also be served sometime tomorrow on BLP leader Mia Mottley in her own right and in her capacity as Chairman of the BLP, and Dr Jerome Walcott, the General Secretary. They have been named as the two defendants in the court action.
“We hope to have the documents served on them sometime tomorrow because service must be personal service and we will go from there. The document for the suit will be filed tomorrow morning [in the court registry] bright and early,” Dr Agard’s lead attorney Hal Gollop, QC, told Barbados TODAY this evening.
Gollop said his client would ask the court to rule on what she claimed was flagrant breaches of the rules of natural justice.
“We are going to be asking the court to make certain declarations in respect of the action itself, given the allegations which we have made in respect of the right to a fair hearing and the rule against bias which are fundamental,” Gollop said.
He contended that it must attract the attention of a court, that the same body which lay the charges against Dr Agard was the one before which she had to appear, arguing that justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done.
“It cannot even remotely appear to have been done, where the accusers turned out to be the jury, judge and everybody else associated with inflicting the punishment. So we will invite the court to rule on what we see as flagrant breaches of the rules of natural justice,” he emphasized.
Gollop said there were other things areas of concern that the legal team had drawn attention to in the suit, including the absence of procedural rules for instituting disciplinary hearings in the BLP’s constitution.
“So that the measures taken by the council that night [November 22] to hand out a sheet [of paper] just before the meeting was officially convened, was preposterous. We made the submission that Dr Agard and her team should have been given reasonable notice to have a look at the ad hoc procedural rules,” he contended.
He said the situation on November 22 called for an adjournment of the hearing to allow Dr Agard and her legal team sufficient time to study the procedure for which the party’s constitution did not provide.
“We considered that as another extreme breach to the right to a fair hearing. These are the things we are going to be asking the court to give some guidance on,” the senior attorney added.
Dr Agard was expelled after failing to answer to nine “fundamental” charges, according to Mottley in a statement soon after the hearing at party headquarters on Roebuck Street, the City.
“These charges, contrary to those who would seek to trivialize them, are fundamental. 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,” the statement said in part.
But at a Press conference last week Wednesday, Dr Agard claimed she was expelled because she dared to challenge Mottley’s leadership, her “bullying tactics” and “injustice” and “evil practices” within the party.