It’s not political!
Lead attorney defends legal challenge against Minister of Finance
He has not been successful against Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler in the political arena.
However, attorney-at-law Gregory Nicholls has certainly been taking the fight to Sinckler in the law courts this past week as lead attorney for Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Dr DeLisle Worrell, who is challenging Sinckler’s attempts to dismiss him from the helm of the country’s monetary authority.
The move by the Governor to appoint Sinckler’s longstanding political archrival as his lead attorney has raised eyebrows, especially in some political quarters.
However, Nicholls, who ran against Sinckler in the St Michael North West on an Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) ticket in 2013 and was beaten by over 700 votes, dismissed the notion of him having a political agenda.
“I don’t choose my clients, my clients choose me and I don’t think that my skill as an attorney-at-law in my 17th year at the Bar has anything to do with the momentary period that I have run as a candidate for the Barbados Labour Party between 2012 and 2013,” Nicholls told Barbados TODAY, when asked if it were a deliberate move by him to take on Sinckler.
“I have been doing cases against the Government even when I was a Government senator,” the former BLP representative said.
“I can cite for example when principal Valdez Francis challenged the Government over the way in which he was dismissed from the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, so unless I get an appointment to Cabinet, which would preclude me from practising law, I do the cases that come to me, and without favour,” he said ahead of today’s decision by the High Court to extend his client’s stay in office by another six days.
However, in adding his voice to the public debate over Sinckler’s controversial move to oust the Governor, political activist and outspoken attorney-at-law David Comissiong suggested that politics was indeed at play, if only on the part of Government.
“Let us be very clear about this . . . in the real world of politics neither the board of management nor a Minister of Finance fires a Governor of the Central Bank. Rather, any decision of this magnitude would have to be taken by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet of ministers,” Comissiong said, stressing that under these circumstances Barbadians should see the decision to fire Worrell as the decision of the Freundel Stuart administration as a whole, and not just Sinckler’s.
He also branded the move as a desperate attempt by Government to conveniently dump all of the blame for “its shameful economic failure” on the shoulders of a “disgraced” Worrell in the lead up to a general election.
While contending that Sinckler and Worrell were “hand in glove partners” for the past eight years, Comissiong suggested that if there were objective grounds to fire Worrell then those reasons must also apply to Sinckler.
“You simply cannot separate the performance and record of Dr Worrell from the performance and record of Sinckler. So if Worrell must go, clearly Chris Sinckler must go as well,” Comissiong argued.
He referred to the Governor as “a convenient scapegoat” and charged that the decision to fire him was “purely political”.
Comissiong also warned Barbadians not to fall for Government’s “threadbare Machiavellian political trick”, arguing what the country needed most was a new Government, not a new Central Bank Governor.
“The current DLP administration has thoroughly disgraced and exhausted itself. It has demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that it has no answer whatsoever to the myriad of problems facing the country. It is long past time for Barbados to be released from this dysfunctional Governmental administration.”
So far, Nicholls has been successful in securing two injunctions on his client’s behalf. The first, granted during a late night court session on Sunday night heard by High Court Justice Randall Worrell, expired this morning.
This afternoon, Nicholls and his associates Renee Butcher and Janice Brown succeeded in getting a second injunction on behalf of the Governor, pending the outcome of his formal appeal against Government.
“An injunction is in place for another six days; we are waiting on a date for the Court of Appeal to determine what day they are going to hear us,” said Nicholls, who is adamant that Sinckler went about the sacking of his client the wrong way based on the procedures set out in the Central Bank Act.
“I am satisfied we have already filed our appeal and all of our documents and we are ready to go again,” he told reporters at the end of today’s three hour proceedings.
Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, whose office is representing the Minister of Finance, made a surprise appearance in court today but offered no comment to the media as he exited the Supreme Court complex on Whitepark Road, St Michael through a side door, with Solicitor General Jennifer Edwards, QC, and her deputy Donna Brathwaite, QC, in tow.
However, there was no sign of either Worrell or Sinckler for the entire day’s proceedings.