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Smith Case May Feature In No-Confidence Vote

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PLP chairman Fred Mitchell.

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

THE Official Opposition's resolution of a vote of no confidence in the prime minister could also ask parliamentarians to consider the government's handling of the case brought against former Senator Frank Smith.

Progressive Liberal Party chairman Fred Mitchell yesterday characterised the case, its appeal and the government's intent to further appeal to the Privy Council as a waste of money.

He called on the government to immediately provide an accounting on legal costs; however, Attorney General Carl Bethel declined comment on the matter yesterday.

At a press briefing, Mr Mitchell said it was "easily conceivable" that retaining a QC could cost $20,000 per day. The government hired a British QC during Mr Smith's trial.

He noted there were various draft resolutions being considered, but the central point was that each MP should be asked whether they support such conduct or whether they were "slaves to the party line".

Mr Mitchell said: "It is amazing the government would have wasted money on such a trite point. It seems to me that they were essentially slapped down (by the Court of Appeal) on all points because it is so simple. The waste of money actually comes from them, and the leader of opposition has said that we intend to proceed with the no confidence vote.

"I would suggest and think that during the course of the debate all of this has to be put before the public and the question which every member of Parliament will be asked to determine for themselves is whether they support this conduct on behalf of the government or whether they are just slaves to the party line and that is the purpose of the no confidence vote."

PLP leader Philip "Brave" Davis announced his plan to bring a no-confidence motion at the earliest opportunity during the final night of the party's convention last month.

Mr Davis said the motion would require Free National Movement parliamentarians to "go on the record and vote", citing the controversial Town Centre Mall lease as rationale for such a move.

Yesterday, House Speaker Halson Moultrie said the opposition only needed to give a day's notice for the motion to be added to the schedule when Parliament resumes on October 2.

On Wednesday, the Court of Appeal unanimously upheld Mr Smith's acquittal of multiple bribery and extortion charges.

It marked the state's second loss in what PLP supporters have called a political "witch hunt" against the former accused senator.

Yesterday, Mr Mitchell said: "I think what is important is there has to be public education on this point. We have to go around the country and shop the idea that this is what we are doing, explain to people why we are doing it and seek public support.

"This is the government of transparency and openness and accountability and it was interesting for the attorney general to then argue that he's not going to reveal it because the fees of the attorney are actually private, because there his fees."

Mr Mitchell added: "We're saying Sands and Dames have to go, the prime minister needs to dismiss them or he himself has to go because he adopts their bad behaviour, and then there must be an accounting on the costs, no question."

During her ruling, Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt criticised both Health Minister Dr Duane Sands and National Security Minister Marvin Dames for the "egregious" way in which they interacted with complainant Barbara Hanna prior to a police investigation into her claims, charging that their conduct gave the appearance of a "political flavour to a curious bystander".

Comments

Topdude 3 weeks, 2 days ago

PLP still in the DENIAL phase of the Grief Cycle after being thrashed at the last elections. What is so hard for them to understand they have lost power? And will not regain power until they reinvent themselves and abolish the PLP.

Please leave our esteemed Prime Minister alone. Is it too much to wait until the next elections to try to get him out of office. Or is it that everyone knows that our party, the mighty FNM, will once again be returned to power to continue their transformative agenda for the people?

Fred Mitchell is the last one to be talking about someone who is unfit for office. Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

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