In a statement released this morning, the United Progressive Party (UPP) has affirmed its support for Political Leader Harold Lovell and his former deputies, Dr. Jacqui Quinn and Willmoth Daniel, in the face of further legal action to be taken against them.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has filed an appeal of the decision of High Court Judge Colin Williams, who upheld no-case submissions in favour of the three defendants on November 23.
Reportedly, the prosecution will appeal on 12 grounds where it believes the Judge erred.
Shortly after their exoneration, Prime Minister Gaston Browne had made certain remarks about the not-guilty verdicts, which were broadly understood as a signal to the DPP that the matter should be appealed.
Accordingly, the Leadership, Executive and Membership of the Party say they condemn this latest attempt at “persecution” by the Browne Administration.
“The Prime Minister’s unwillingness to accept the verdict of two courts – that there is no case to answer – has become a personal vendetta,” the Party’s statement says.
It adds that the new action is aimed at fulfilling Browne’s “infamous threat: to ‘use the resources of the State to bankrupt’ those who stand or speak in opposition to him.”
The statement continues: “It is morally distasteful that Browne would continue to spend the taxpayers’ money in this crassly political exercise at a time when” so many residents are in need.
These include the “hundreds of tourism-sector workers … the former LIAT employees … and pensioners [who] have had to take to the streets to get what is their due.”
The UPP also reminds Browne that “the infrastructure at the hospital and the road network are in dire need of repair.”
Addressing the DPP’s Office, the statement says, “It is also pitiful that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions – which is meant to be an independent agency – could have responded so slavishly to the Prime Minister’s un-subtle directive…. Surely, this brings into further question the impartiality of the justice system.”
Meanwhile, Franz deFreitas, the UPP Candidate for St. John’s City South, is curious about the basis on which the appeal is being made.
DeFreitas says there is a regional Judicial Review Committee to which the DPP may have to answer if he persists down this road.
Meanwhile, many residents are expressing outrage at what they, too, consider a witch hunt, and say the appeal is nothing more than a waste of taxpayers’ money.
A caller to Observer radio’s Voice of the People was disgruntled by the decision.
The man also referred to other cases that were allowed to die a natural death, including one in which now-Attorney General Steadroy “Cutie”Benjamin was charged in a passport-fraud matter.
In the meantime, the Party reminds both the Prime Minister and the Director of Public Prosecutions “of the number of issues begging for investigation and possible prosecution, including Browne’s own disclosure of forgery and fraud at the Customs/Port, and the People’s need for action on same.”
The statement ends with an assertion of the Party’s unwavering support for its three embattled members, and a declaration that it “will continue to resist all of PM Browne’s efforts to intimidate and silence us.”