Governor not prepared to go without a fight
The lead attorney for Central Bank Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell today served notice that he was preparing to lodge a “full case” in the law courts by Friday, even as High Court Judge Randall Worrell today assured his client of a longer stay in office through the granting of his second reprieve since Sunday.
And while expressing confidence that his legal arguments would succeed, Worrell’s attorney Gregory Nicholls also warned that even if the court were to discharge the current injunction, which has been in place since Sunday and currently blocks the embattled Governor’s dismissal, “there is still the Court of Appeal . . . and the CCJ [Caribbean Court of Justice].
“. . . all legal options are on the table,” Nicholls told reporters at the end of a two-and-a-half-hour-long hearing, which took place in Chamber, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
“It is not a flippant decision by the Governor of the Central Bank. Coming here is not an exercise in theatrics . . . this is a serious matter and we will weigh all the options as it arises,” the attorney stressed.
At the same time, Nicholls sought to make a mockery of the arguments put forward by Solicitor General Jennifer Edwards, QC, in defence of Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler’s decision to remove the head of the country’s premier financial institution.
In fact, he likened the state’s argument to that presented by United States president Donald Trump in defence of his recent presidential order targeted at Muslims, which was subsequently overturned by the US court system.
“I was really surprised at the content of the argument,” said Nicholls, explaining that in same way that Trump had suggested that the judge would be at fault if terrorists were to attack the US, “it’s almost as if they are saying that they have to get rid of the governor because if they don’t get rid of the governor the economy will collapse”.
While dismissing that argument out of hand, Nicholls contended that Sinckler, who did not put in an appearance in the High Court today, did not have the right to remove Worrell in the way that he attempted last Thursday at the insistence of other members of the monetary authority’s board.
At the time, Worrell was reportedly given the option of either tendering in his resignation by Monday of this week, or be fired.
However, the Governor, who is in his 70s, defied the verbal ultimatum, choosing instead to challenge the right of the Minister to force him to step down.
“He [Sinckler] did not have the power to get around the provisions of the [Central Bank] Act. The Act sets out how a director, including the Governor of the Central Bank, can be removed,” the Governor’s legal spokesman said.
“Until that process can be followed then the Minister’s arrogation unto himself of the power to remove him by virtue of him signing a letter of engagement, deploying the Governor, then we can’t go outside the confines of the Central Bank Act,” the lawyer stressed.
He revealed that his client was caught off-guard somewhat by the recent demand for him to go and had even questioned the seriousness of the demand.
However, he said it quickly registered that “had he not [stepped down] by Monday morning, the misuse of the executive powers given by Parliament to the functionaries under the Central Bank Act would have occurred in our opinion”.
Though acknowledging that Sinckler could decide that he no longer wanted to follow the Governor’s advice, he was adamant that proper procedure must be followed, including having the decision Gazetted and laid in Parliament.
“He can go under Section 49 and given directions if he wants to print money till the cows come home, he can do so, but he must do so through the provisions set out in the Act. Outside of the Act in our mind its unlawful,” Nicholls said, adding that his client remained committed to carrying out his substantive duties as Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados.