Former Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson.
By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government has moved to file a motion against an injunction that bars members of Parliament from disclosing confidential information about Save The Bays during parliamentary proceedings, Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson confirmed yesterday.
Mrs Maynard-Gibson said the Office of the Attorney General has applied to set aside the interlocutory injunction granted to environmental group Save The Bays by Justice Indra Charles on April 21. Mrs Maynard-Gibson said a hearing on the matter would likely take place between Thursday and today.
She also dismissed suggestions that the government’s opposition to the injunction is the end of the rule of law, as was recently asserted by STB Legal Director Fred Smith, QC. Conversely, she said this matter allows for an “opportunity for there to be a discourse about these matters.”
However, Mrs Maynard-Gibson declined to comment on a resolution moved in the House of Assembly this week to have Justice Charles, along with Mr Smith and lawyer Ferron Bethel brought before the Committee on Privilege.
“The matter is before the courts, so obviously I don’t want to comment on anything that would interfere with the entire process,” she said yesterday. “And as you know the Attorney General’s Office has applied to set the injunction (aside), and that hearing should hopefully take place today or tomorrow (Friday).
“What I would like to say is that in a thriving democracy and a growing democracy, these are the kinds of issues that will be dealt with in our courts, and in our Parliament, and I believe that we in our country have leaders of our institutions, who have tremendous intellect, and integrity, the same thing that applies equally to the House of Assembly and the Senate and the courts, so I’m quite sure that they as leaders of the institutions see this as what it is, and that is the opportunity for there to be a discourse about these matters.”
When asked if she felt the filing of a motion to set aside the injunction was an affront to the rule of law in the Bahamas, Mrs Maynard-Gibson said: “That’s like saying that because one lawyer takes a different view from another lawyer, that’s not democracy. And right thinking people understand that that is not the case. We are governed by the rule of law in the Bahamas, and thank God for that - we should celebrate it. And I’m thankful that we have in our institutions persons whose intellect and integrity is beyond question.”
Last Thursday, STB was granted an injunction against Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald, Fox Hill MP Fred Mitchell, and Mrs Maynard-Gibson, restraining them from further disclosing the group’s confidential information in Parliament. The judge’s order says the three government ministers are “prohibited” from any appropriation, perusal, use, publication or disclosure in Parliament or elsewhere of any correspondence, including emails, belonging to the applicants. The injunction lasts until May 12.
It drew sharp criticisms from House Speaker Dr Kendal Major, who on Monday called it a “pre-emptive onslaught” against the independence of the lower chamber. Dr Major said as this move attempts to usurp the authority of the Speaker and is contemptuous to the House of Assembly, he stood ready to have persons brought to the bar of the House if necessary in defence of Parliament and its freedoms.
On Tuesday, Mr Fitzgerald moved a resolution in the House of Assembly for the Committee on Privilege to determine whether Justice Charles, Mr Smith, and Mr Bethel should be held in contempt of Parliament.