Yesterday morning Supreme Court Justice Michelle Arana granted defeated candidate in the Albert division, David Craig, leave to apply for an election petition to determine the validity of Hon. Herman Longsworth’s victory at the polls on election day. Longsworth beat Craig by 227 votes. Today attorneys for Craig, Said Musa Senior Counsel and Anthony Sylvestre, argued that Herman Longsworth contravened the Constitution when he failed to disclose at least one month prior to the election, his interest in a contract with the then-Ministry of Youth, Sports, Information and Broadcasting for the first phase of the Marion Jones Sporting Complex project. The contract consisted of the construction of a perimeter fence and certain other preparatory works at the stadium on Princess Margaret Drive, per Section 58(1)(h) of the Constitution. Justice Arana said in making her ruling that the matter was important enough to be fully litigated in a court of law and that the applicants had reached the requirements for granting leave. Musa spoke to reporters afterward and outlined their arguments and the plan going forward.
Hon. Said Musa The only way he could have avoided a disqualification is if he had published in the newspaper, for the electorate to see that he had this contract with the Government, then the Constitution is saying that he can be excused. However, we were able to show that at least to obtain leave, that there is an arguable case that the contract subsists to this day and therefore the case can be made that he is disqualified. And if so established, we will petition, which is the next stage, that Mr. Longsworth will be disqualified and the court will then order a by-election; however we are far away from that yet.
Meanwhile, attorney for Longsworth, Senior Counsel Michael Young, disagrees. He explains why.
Senior Counsel Michael Young, Attorney for Hon. Herman Longsworth There was a contract for certain works to be done and it was signed in August of 2009. However, that contract was completed and works under that contract were performed and that was certified by the architects and the designers and associates and they provided a letter. So our fundamental position is that we had a contract between two parties and those two parties are saying that contract ended at the very latest on October 24th 2011. The architects responsible for the carrying out of the contract are also saying that it was finished on October 24th 2011.
While Young agrees the court has the duty to determine whether the applicants have an arguable case, he thinks they don’t. This is what he says about the application and its potential success or failure as a formal petition, and also comments on the matter of the duties paid, or unpaid.
Senior Counsel Michael Young I made the point in court that the documents which were presented by them are not complete. As a matter of fact, it only amounted to just a couple of pages; however, a contract must be a whole lot of documents that includes the exact description of the works to be done. I am saying that by looking at their documents, you can’t really determine, whether there remains things to be done, because it all depends on what both parties have put in documents of the details of the things that were to be done. The architect is saying that what was to be done has been done. These things have to be proven by documentation, it is not a matter of someone just picking up a camera and going somewhere and taking pictures. It is phase one of the contract, which suggests that there will be further phases. The point is that what the court has to go on would be the material which is presented to the court and that material was inefficient in my view.
The full election petition must be filed on or before April 10, which is twenty-one days from the publication of the March 7 results in the Government Gazette on March 16.