KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Stop playing political games and say whether you are accepting Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves’ offer to discontinue the court proceedings against you.
That was the message that Gonsalves’ lawyer, Grahame Bollers, wanted Emery Robertson to communicate to his client, opposition lawmaker Daniel Cummings.
Bollers also wanted to know whether Cummings was willing to publicly acknowledge that Gonsalves had received a default judgement against him in a defamation case in 2008.
“Perhaps a little humility may help. I reaffirm my client’s quest for reconciliation,” Bollers wrote in a Jan. 30 letter to Robertson.
Bollers also said a public statement by Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, to whom a similar offer of reconciliation was extended, is “a veritable ‘fly in the ointment’”.
Eustace said at a press conference last Tuesday that he could not accept Gonsalves’ offer to discontinue proceeding against him even as his “colleagues, supporters, and allies continue to be subjected to the cost and rigours of litigation”.
Bollers said that Gonsalves wanted to know if Cummings would publicly state that Gonsalves has a judgement against him in the defamation case.
Bollers also asked if Cummings holds the same stance of Eustace as expressed at the press conference and whether Cummings would “state unequivocally whether or not he accepts” Gonsalves’ offer not to act any further on the judgement, which Gonsalves against Cummings.
“When I receive answers on these questions from you, I would further advise my client,” Bollers said before calling for an end to the “political games”, adding, “I reaffirm my client’s quest for reconciliation.”
Bollers’ letter is the latest development in what Gonsalves said is a tangible effort at national reconciliation.
Gonsalves, speaking in Parliament earlier this month on the heels of an insulting comment by Minister of Agriculture Montgomery Daniel towards Cummings, said that he was inspired to drop the cases after his trip to Bethlehem last year.
Bollers’ Jan. 30 letter was in response to a Jan. 17 communiqué from Robertson, in which he said that Cummings had “no objections to the discontinuance” of the legal proceedings”.
However, Robertson also said that the law gives Gonsalves’ lawyer the right to discontinue the case without Cummings’ consent or without seeking the permission of the court.
He said that Bollers could discontinue the case “by serving your Notice of Discontinuance and serving us with a copy to complete this process”.
Robertson, however, agreed with Bollers’ suggestion that they should inform the judge, Master Goergis Taylor Alexander of the development since Robertson had filed two applications with the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
One of the applications was to be heard on Jan. 24 “for the impeachment of the Default Judgement purportedly entered in the 16th April, 2008” and the other for stay of proceedings relative to the Nov. 16, 2011 order of Master Taylor, which is due to be heard on Feb. 7, according to Robertson’s letter.
“I also would also withdraw my application accordingly and put this matter to rest,” Robertson further wrote.
But Bollers, in his response, said that it is unfortunate that Cumming “has chosen publicly to dispute the fact that Dr. Gonsalves has a judgment against him”.
Cummings told I-Witness News last week that Gonsalves did not have a judgement against him.
“The simple fact is that the Prime Minister has no judgement against me, contrary to what he says. But, in everybody’s interest, I will leave it until it has been resolved …” Cummings told I-Witness News.
Read also: PM ‘has no judgement against’ Cummings
Bollers said that Cummings made numerous references to the “default judgment” in a Dec. 6, 2011 sworn affidavit.
“If judgement is executed against me, I stand to be declared bankrupt which would render me ineligible to hold office in Parliament under sections 26 and 29 of the Constitution…” Bollers quoted Cummings as saying in the affidavit.
“Only an assessment of damages remains to be done. Mr. Cummings, accordingly imputed that Dr. Gonsalves had either misled or deliberately lied to Parliament,” Bollers further wrote.
He said that “in the spirit of reconciliation”, Cummings ought publicly to state that Gonsalves does in fact have a judgement against him.
“If not, Dr. Gonsalves’ gracious and practical reconciliation measure would appear, to some members of the public, to be tainted. If Mr. Cummings fails or refuses so to act, a reasonable conclusion of churlishness on his part may be difficult to avoid,” Bollers wrote.
He further said that Robertson letter, written on behalf of Cummings, “exhibits a not dissimilar grudging attitude to Dr. Gonsalves’ gracious, reconciling act.
“Your letter merely affirms that Mr. Cummings ‘had no objection to the discontinuance of the proceeding’,” Bollers said in his letter.