By: Precious Mills
BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 11th January 2019)- As far as the legal team for Opposition Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas is concerned, if only the present Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris had extended the courtesy of granting him a diplomatic passport as the immediate former prime minister, he (Douglas) would not be involved in the ongoing controversial diplomatic passport situation.
The ongoing issue involves Dr. Douglas who is defendant in the case brought against him by the Attorney General Vincent ‘Juicy’ Byron Jr.-the claimant.
Following yesterday’s (Thursday) adjourned matter on the case at the High Court presided over by Justice Trevor Ward QC, Dr. Douglas was overheard in a conversation with Byron saying to him: “Ask Simmonds how I treated him” in referring to the courtesy extended to the former Prime Minister Sir Kennedy Simmonds of the former PAM Administration by his Labour Party government.
Byron’s response to Dr. Douglas though not clearly heard apparently did not sit well with Dr. Douglas according to his facial expression and response in addressing the courtesy that should have been extended to him as a former head of government.
In a formal interview with members of the local press, Dr. Douglas formally addressed those sentiments he had expressed to Byron one on one before his interaction with reporters.
“This is really an abuse of taxpayers’ money. It is part of a political charade that Dr. Harris is pursuing. It is part of his vendetta. It is part of his vindictiveness and it has become part of his very nature. I gave Dr. Simmonds a diplomatic passport in the time it was required….All of this is happening because of the vindictiveness of Harris, refusing to issue a diplomatic passport to a former head of government, the present leader of the opposition of this country,” he remarked.
Dr. Douglas says he is “very optimistic in the sense that I am not a citizen of Dominica; never pretended to be one…”
Senior Counsel of Dr. Douglas’ legal team Anthony Astaphan, in speaking to members of the media, outlined that: “…one of the points that I really wanted to make which may be a bit beyond the legal boundaries-The reason why Dr. Douglas was put in this position with the diplomatic passport was that this Prime Minister and this Minister of Foreign Affairs refused in accordance with protocol to give a diplomatic passport to a former prime minister and leader of the opposition.”
Astaphan continued: “When Dr. Douglas explained that to the Prime Minister of Dominica, he was a little astounded, disappointed and as a result of which and the language used by Dr. Douglas is absolutely accurate because of that deprivation as a matter of personal and professional courtesy, it was given to him and I can tell you that the Prime Minister’s position on that is as Dr. Douglas said because I was aware of the subsequent discussions with the prime minister on it. Had the common courtesy to former prime ministers been given, we would not be here today.”
“I think it is regrettable that a former prime minister has to go through this type of harassment but we will see what happens at the end of the case,” he told.
According to him: “Our case is a very simple one that this diplomatic passport was given to Dr. Douglas a matter of professional and personal courtesy. He applied for it as required under the regulation. He did not declare his citizen ship to be Dominican at no time even when he travelled with his regular passport or with the diplomatic passport, His nationality was always declared as St.Kitts and Nevis or Kittitian.”
Meanwhile, Byron is claiming that the Constitution does not say that one has to swear allegiance as he cited acknowledgement of allegiance in his comments to the media.
“The issue is the use, having accepted and used the passport and Dr. Douglas has not denied that. He has actually filed in the court that he has visited seven countries at least 10 times using a Dominican diplomatic passport and the case is having used that passport, he falls under the protection of Dominica…and using the case of… Joyce in England [1940’s], the House of Lord’s case, we say that that is the acknowledgment of allegiance.”
Both legal teams in the matter are expected to make further submissions by Friday 25th January following matters arising from yesterday’s cross examination session with replies expected by Monday 4th February.
More court coverage to be provided in a follow-up report.