ST. VINCENT: – The Unity Labour Party (ULP) candidate accused of election fraud by his New Democratic Party (NDP) counterpart will write to the Director of Public Prosecutions with a view to having his accuser prosecuted, the ULP said on Saturday.
The ULP said that the accusations by NDP public relations officer and candidate for West St. George, Vynnette Frederick against Luke Browne, the ULP’s East Kingstown candidate, “could land her (Frederick) in jail and cause her to be barred from participating in the general elections” on Dec. 13.
It is the latest in a saga that unfolded Thursday morning, Nov. 25, initially on Hitz FM and later on Nice Radio and Hot FM.
Frederick and Browne were guests on Hitz FM’s “As the Youth See It” on Thursday when Frederick accused Browne and his family of being involved in alleged illegal registration of voters in East Kingstown, which is represented by NDP president and Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace.
The two politicians are the youngest candidate of their respective parties for the upcoming elections and are making their first outing at the polls.
“This morning, evidence coming to hand to the New Democratic Party has required me to speak immediately on a matter of fundamental importance to our democracy,” said Frederick, a lawyer, during the programme, which was broadcast live.
She said the Brownes are “involved in a conspiracy to subvert justice and to rig the general elections in the constituency of East Kingstown”.
Frederick left the programme after the moderator interrupted her as she was about to present “evidence” of the Brownes’ alleged involvement in reported illegal registration.
She later relayed the accusation in detail on Nice Radio and Hot FM and her party in a subsequent press release, listed three cases in which it said that Browne “illegally transported registered voters living in other constituencies into the constituency of East Kingstown polling stations EKL and EKB to knowingly transfer into the constituency of East Kingstown in your attempt to rig the vote in the constituency”.
The NDP further said it had “sworn evidence” that Browne on four occasions knowingly transported a resident of Central Kingstown to be registered in East Kingstown.
“…there are attempts by the opposition to frustrate the registration exercise in East Kingstown upon the suspicion that anyone going to register supports Luke,” Browne said after Frederick left the programme.
“Mr. Browne intends to discuss the matter with counsel as he firmly believes that this is a salacious attack on him that must be addressed,” the ULP later said in a statement on Thursday.
The ULP in another statement on Saturday said “Ms Frederick has ‘falsely accused’ ULP candidate Luke Browne of several criminal offences and of disgraceful conduct”, adding, “…the ULP maintains that Ms Frederick did so ‘without providing a shred of evidence’”.
“The allegations were echoed by NDP party leader Arnhim Eustace who held a quickly arranged press conference following Frederick’s claims on radio. Mr. Eustace too, fell short of presenting any evidence whatsoever whether material or documentation or otherwise,” the ULP further said on Saturday.
The ULP said that Browne, who has “ flatly denied” the allegations, “says that he has been advised by his legal team that Ms. Frederick has contravened the provisions of section 51(3) of Representation of the People Act and is guilty of an illegal election practice prohibited by the Parliament of Saint Vincent & the Grenadines”.
“Accordingly, I intend to write the Director of Public Prosecutions to have Frederick prosecuted because the statements and allegations made against me are patently false,” the ULP quoted Browne as saying.
Section 51 (3) of the Representation of the People Act states:
“Any person who, before or during an election, for the purpose of affecting the return of any candidate or prospective candidate at such election, makes or publishes any false statement in fact in relation to the personal character or conduct of such candidate is guilty on an illegal practice and liable to fine of seven hundred and fifty dollars and to imprisonment for a year.”
The relevant parts of section 51 (4) state:
“Any person who is convicted of any offence declared to be an illegal practice under this or any other section of this Act shall, in addition to any other penalty for such offence be incapable during a period of five years from the date of his conviction
a) Of being registered as a voter or voting at any election; and
b) Of being elected or appointed as a member of the House of assembly, or, if elected or appointed before his conviction, of retaining his seat as such member”
“Mr. Browne also commented on his decision to reserve his right to pursue defamation proceedings against the NDP candidate, ‘I cannot allow my reputation to be attacked by desperate people. This NDP cancer of liars and deliberate lies must stop. We cannot permit this factory of misinformation and lies to continue and go unanswered. I am determined to ensure that Miss Frederick faces the legal consequences for her false statements and dishonest conduct towards me. Enough is enough!’” the ULP further said.
Frederick was not immediately available for comments.