House Speaker Sir Gerald Watt, K.C., has admitted that his position
on the resignation of former MP Kelvin “Shugy ” Simon is wrong.
In a letter to Simon – dated and delivered today, June 30 – Watt says
he undertook “a careful study” of Sections 125(1)(b) and (2) of the
Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda and has concluded that
resignations pursuant to that section are “at large.”
Therefore, he has concluded that resignation is automatic and does
not require acceptance by the Speaker.
On June 7, Simon tendered his resignation from the Lower House,
paving the way for a by-election in the constituency of St. Mary’s
Initially, the Speaker rejected his resignation on the grounds of
mainly Section 41 of the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda,
insisting that a sitting MP could not resign otherwise.
This sparked responses from several members of the legal
profession – and Simon’s defense team – who strongly disagreed
with Sir Gerald’s position.
Accordingly, Simon penned another letter, dated June 13, in which
he requested that the Speaker reconsider his refusal to accept the
However, while Sir Gerald is now admitting that he was wrong and
is accepting the constitutional position, the senior lawyer is still
seeking to have the final say.
In his letter to the former MP, the Speaker says he has grave
concerns about the practical consequences of the situation in which
Simon resigned his seat in order to bring an end to the election
petition now before the High Court.
He notes that, to facilitate this closure, Simon has filed an
application before the Court to have those proceedings declared
moot, and he asks whether Simon and his legal team were not
confident that the Court would decide in his favour.
Referring to this move as “political chicanery,” Watts says that
thoughtful Antiguans must take note of it.
However, a supporter of Simon tells REAL News that, if that is the
case, then Sir Gerald, himself, is “guilty of legal chicanery.”
She charges that Watt’s letter to Simon – conceding that his rejection
of the resignation was wrong – is Watt’s own attempt to have his
matter declared moot.
This is a reference to the fact that, last week, the High Court judge
joined the Speaker to the legal matter, which will be heard on
Monday, July 3.
“Sir Gerald decided to jump rather than be pushed,” the woman says.
“He would rather concede and lose face than have the judge tell him
he was wrong and be humiliated.”