Another strike down in the court against the ALP in its legal battle with MP Asot Michael

Moves by the Antigua Labour Party to remove MP Asot Michael from the political institution reportedly continues to fail.

For the third time in the last two years, the court has ruled in favour of Michael as he fights a legal battle against the Gaston Browne-led campaign to, as what he deems, unconstitutionally and unlawfully cancel him from the Party and the political landscape of the country.

Michael in a press release says the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal, last Tuesday (January 31) dismissed an application by Executive Members of the Labour Party, including Mary Clare Hurst, Paul “Chet” Greene and Gaston Browne for a stay of proceedings pending the appeal. 

Reportedly the ABLP leaders appealed a decision of the High Court made on October 7, 2022 setting aside a default judgment on a counterclaim obtained against MP Michael on the basis that the judgment was irregular.

The release says that it was a single Court of Appeal justice who agreed with the arguments of Michael’s legal representative, Kema Benjamin of the law firm Marshall & Co. that the appellants did not satisfy the requirements for obtaining a stay.

Reportedly the granting of the stay could have effectively stayed the entire proceedings or run the risk of having two claims, which ought to be disposed together but being separated.

Benjamin argued that the balance of harm in having two separate claims proceed to trial was in Michael’s favour and the appellants did not produce any cogent evidence, which showed the appeal would be stifled or rendered nugatory (insignificant) should the stay not be granted.

This latest court decision allows MP Michael to continue with his claim filed against Hurst, Greene and Browne in the High Court in November 2021, challenging the legality of a Central Executive meeting held on October 22 that same year, and any decisions made at that meeting, to his exclusion as the duly elected Member of Parliament for St. Peter. 

Michael has said repeatedly that he was not given the customary notice of the meeting and was denied his constitutional rights under the Revised Constitution of the ABLP to attend.

In his lawsuit, the MP is also challenging the legality of a meeting held on October 27, 2021, during which a new ABLP branch executive for St. Peter was elected, to his exclusion and also to the exclusion of members of the existing branch executive. At that meeting also, there was the selection of Rawdon Turner as the ABLP’s candidate for St. Peter for the 2023 General Election, which he lost to Michael.  

Michael, as the then ABLP duly elected Member of Parliament for St. Peter and ex-officio member of the St. Peter branch, claims he had no prior knowledge of the meeting and was denied his constitutional rights under the Revised Constitution of the Party to attend the meeting.

He was granted an interim injunction on December 26, 2021 restraining Hurst, Greene and Browne from excluding him from Central Executive meetings.

However, Michael says that notwithstanding the court rulings protecting his rights as a member of the ABLP, “Browne appears to be ignoring sound legal advice in his sworn commitment to the irrational, unjust and vindictive plan to get rid of him at all cost, including the destruction of the Party.