Today, February 14, the High Court denied an injunction to bar Kelvin “Shugy” Simon from being sworn in on February 17, as the parliamentary representative for St. Mary’s South.
This is Simon’s first win in a matter brought by an Antigua Labour Party interest, who ultimately seeks to invalidate his victory in the January 18 General Election.
The United Progressive Party candidate defeated the Antigua Labour Party’s Samantha Marshall by a convincing 199 votes.
Simon and five other successful UPP candidates are expected to take their oaths this Friday, during a swearing-in ceremony in the House of Representatives.
Last Thursday, February 9, the Court heard legal arguments from attorneys representing both the claimant and Simon’s legal team; and Tuesday’s favourable decision on the injunction had been highly anticipated by the UPP candidate, his constituents, and his Party.
However, the second part of the court action that challenges the validity of Simon’s election is still to be determined.
In the meantime, says Leon Chaku Symister, a member of the defendant’s legal team, “Kelvin Simon remains a Member of Parliament deemed to be validly elected, unless the Court finds otherwise when the substantive matter is heard.”
The case is being expedited, he says, because it is an election matter. But, as far as the schedule looks now, Symister says it will probably not be heard before May, although the pre-trial review is slated for April 19.
There will be no further comment, at this time, from the legal team, he says.
This matter began with attorney Hugh Marshall Jr. – brother of the defeated ALP contender – filing a High Court petition that challenged the legality of Simon’s nomination. He sought to have a judge declare that the nomination contravened both the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda and the Civil Service Act.
Marshall Jr. argued that Simon, at the time of his nomination, was not qualified to participate in the elections because he had not yet tendered his resignation to the Public Service Commission (PSC). Further, he believes that when Simon’s resignation was submitted, the PSC had not had sufficient time, ahead of the general elections, to consider it.
Meanwhile, Simon – a first-time political contender who joined the UPP’s Redeem Team only in August 2022 – will be seated as the St. Mary’s South representative on Monday, February 20, when the Speech from the Throne is delivered.
He will also be seated for the Budget Presentation on Thursday, March 2, and take part in his first-ever Budget Debate on Thursday, March 9.
After the declaration that Simon was the victor in January’s polls, Samantha Marshall publicly extended gracious congratulations and wished him well.
Since today’s court decision, constituents and supportive residents have taken to social media to extend another round of congratulations to “Shugy,” as Simon is affectionately called.
Meanwhile, D.Gisele Isaac, chairperson of the UPP, says the Party is extremely pleased with the Court’s decision, even though it recognizes that the fight is not over.
However, she says, she remains “confident that, in the ultimate challenge, the interest of the people – that is, the 1,061voters who elected Simon – will trump the interest of one individual.”