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FNM vice-chairman sues party leaders

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

FREE National Movement vice-chairman Richard Johnson has taken legal action against party leaders Michael Pintard and Dr Duane Sands after being banned from attending future council meetings, which he claimed violated the party’s constitution.

According to a writ of summons filed on November 28, Mr Johnson, represented by attorney Gregory Moss, is seeking some $500,000 in compensation for general or exemplary damages concerning the suspension which stems from allegations that he “acted contrary to the interests of the party, its platform, policies” etc.

FNM leader Mr Pintard and FNM chairman Dr Sands are named as the defendants in this action.

 The writ notes that Dr Sands, in a memorandum dated October 30, informed Mr Johnson that he was suspending his membership rights and reassigning his duties as vice chairman in a move that was claimed to have been supported by Mr Pintard.

 However, according to the writ, neither man had the authority to do so under the FNM’s constitution.

 “No charge was laid against the plaintiff before the purported general suspension was imposed against the plaintiff, nor was the plaintiff afforded any opportunity to be heard and to respond to any allegations against him which gave rise to the purported general suspension,” the writ added.

 “In alternative, the purported general suspension of the plaintiff was imposed by the second defendant without any meeting of the executive committee having been called to consider and authorise the issuance of the charge - together with the particulars of the allegation upon which the charge is based.

 “In any event, the second defendant had no authority to relieve the plaintiff of ‘any duties previously assigned to [him] as vice chairman’ nor to deprive the plaintiff of his ‘responsibility for any of the constituency associations’ as such duties of the plaintiff were assigned to him by the executive committee and, therefore, could only have been revoked by the executive committee.”

 The writ further contends that Mr Johnson, to this day, is not allowed to sit in on any meetings of the party’s executive committee or Central Council.

 The action taken against Mr Johnson came after several meetings were held last month to allow committee members to vote on the matter.

 “No vote of the executive committee meeting was taken to effect or ratify the purported general suspension or otherwise to suspend the plaintiff’s membership in the FNM or to suspend or otherwise reassign the plaintiff’s duties as vice chairman,” the writ continued.

 “In any event, at all material times the executive committee did not have any authority under the FNM’s constitution or otherwise to cause the purported general suspension to be imposed against the plaintiff.

 “Accordingly, the purported general suspension of the plaintiff by the second defendant and/or by the executive committee was and is ultra vires the constitution of the Free National Movement and is accordingly null and void and of no effect.”

 In one meeting, Mr Johnson claimed to have asked Dr Sands for a written statement on the allegations made against him, but said he received no response

 The writ said after the executive meeting was adjourned, another meeting was called, but this time with the Central Council, where a motion was held to suspend Mr Johnson from future meetings of the council.

 According to the writ, “no quorum of the Central Council was present at the purported meeting.”

 Court documents also allege that those who voted in favour of the suspensions had displayed bias against Mr Johnson.

 The writ then points to the FNM’s mandatory disciplinary procedure, suggesting that procedures were not followed when Mr Johnson was banned.

 “The plaintiff was at that date deprived of the enjoyment of his membership rights and privileges under the mandatory disciplinary procedure inclusive of, but not limited to, service upon of a statement of charge as to the manner in which he is alleged to have ‘acted contrary to the interests of the party, its platform, programmes, policies or principles the executive committee,’ service upon him of  particulars of allegation with respect thereto, the referral of the same to the tribunal for determination of the same, and the opportunity to appear and be heard before the tribunal with respect thereto and be represented before the tribunal by a member of the FNM.”

  As a result, the writ notes that Mr Johnson is seeking for his rights to be reinstated, $250,000 in damages for “loss of and unlawful interference” of his membership, another $250,000 for “mental distress” concerning the matter and interest on the aforesaid damages, among other things.

 When contacted by this newspaper yesterday, Dr Sands said he had no comment on the matter.

Comments

Flyingfish 3 months, 3 weeks ago

A broke FNM & PLP make me happy & improve the standard of our democracy 3-fold. A government without them, cut corruption down by 10 fold.

They say that those who failed to understand the past are destined to repeat it. Now Baystreet Boys gave way to Sunshine Boys all the same. Unfortunately, in our triumph of racial and colonial "justice" we got distracted. We failed to realize that it is the elite, whether White or Black who has helped their pockets at our expense.

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