‘Barefoot pastor’ challenges court ruling

Three months after an appeal was filed on his behalf challenging his dismissal by the church, a controversial Methodist priest has run into another legal hurdle.

The Court of Appeal has struck down an application filed last December by Hal Gollop, QC on behalf of Reverend St Clair, better known as the “barefoot pastor”.

However, the controversial minister of the cloth, who found himself in hot water with the church for refusing to wear shoes, is not prepared to give up the fight.

Although the legal team representing the Methodist Church, led by Elliott Mottley, QC, has succeeded in getting the Court of Appeal to strike out his appeal, St Clair’s counsel said he was not notified, as was the custom, that the other party had made such a move.

They have therefore made representation to the Registrar of the Supreme Court with a view to having the latest decision overturned in the circumstances.

Back in December, the High Court ruled against the “barefoot pastor”, who has been challenging the church’s authority to fire him for “breach of contract”, including conducting services without shoes.

High Court Judge William Chandler dismissed his original application on the grounds that it was improperly filed before the court and was inconsistent with the protocol set out in the Church’s constitution.

Gollop then took the matter before the Court of Appeal, listing nine grounds of appeal and claiming that the court’s order for him to return the church’s motorcar and get out of its house at Ebenezer, St Philip was unjust.

Reverend William St Clair (left) with his lawyer Queen’s Counsel Hal Gollop.
Reverend William St Clair (left) with his lawyer Queen’s Counsel Hal Gollop.

Six defendants were named in the suit, including the South Caribbean District of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and Americas, the Methodist Trust Corporation of Barbados Inc., the Ebenezer Circuit of the South Caribbean District of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and Americas, President and General Superintendent of the South Caribbean District of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and Americas Rev. Dr Cuthbert Edwards, and Ebenezer Circuit stewards Roger Marshall and David Harewood.

“The learned trial judge erred in failing to rule that all actions taken by the defendants in the name of the South Caribbean District of the Methodist Church of the Caribbean and Americas and the Ebenezer Circuit of the South Caribbean District of the Methodist Church of the Methodist Church of the Caribbean and Americas were null and void in that, as stated by him [judge], they had no authority to act,” Gollop stated in the Notice of Appeal, a copy of which had been obtained by Barbados TODAY.

He further argued that Justice Chandler should have acknowledged that church stewards Harewood and Marshall had exercised authority on behalf of the Ebenezer Circuit when they ordered Rev St Clair to vacate the Manse on December 20, 2014 and to return the house to the state in which he found it when he arrived there in September 2013.

The Court of Appeal is therefore being urged to issue a new order setting aside the one handed down by Justice Chandler and staying the judge’s order until a new one is made.

A date was to be set for the hearing of that appeal.

No date has been set either for reverting to case management due to the latest decision by the Court of Appeal and Gollop’s subsequent challenge to that ruling.

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