KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – A lawyer who represented Prime Minster Dr. Ralph Gonsalves in an election-related matter is considering asking Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan to institute disciplinary proceedings against opposition lawmaker, Sen. Vynnette Frederick, a lawyer.
Frederick last week failed in the Court of Appeal to have the decision of a lower court overturned in relations to statements Gonsalves made during the campaign for the 2010 election, which she said affected her performance at the poll.
The legal proceedings related to Gonsalves’ saying that Frederick’s father “send a daughter to study law, and came back and get a son, … a tomboy”.
Frederick’s lawyers argued that Gonsalves was referring to their client’s sexual orientation and this affected the vote in West St. George, where she lost to Cecil “Ces” McKie of Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party (ULP).
But Dominican Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan pointed to inconsistencies in the contents of documents Frederick submitted to the court, including the word “lesbian”, which she said was inadvertently inserted in a transcript of a recording of Gonsalves comments.
“This insistency on her [part] on the 23rd of May that she heard the word ‘lesbian’ — after we wrote in December, after Stephen Williams sort with the affidavit exhibiting the transcript showing clearly that the word ‘lesbian’ was not used — is something that I find that we have to take very seriously,” Astaphan said on radio on Friday.
“Although we won the appeal and the matter is now at an end, we are seriously considering raising the matter with the Director of Public Prosecutions [Colin Williams] because we think it must have constituted a criminal offence and we are also thinking very seriously of taking up the matter with the Attorney General with a view to having disciplinary proceeding instituted against Vynnette Frederick for that sort of behaviour,” he said.
“We cannot allow lawyers who are politicians or politicians who are lawyers to deliberately mislead the court in material aspects in order to try to score a victory in the court for political gain. It is for me an unacceptable crossing of the line,” he said.
Frederick’s complaint, was among several filed by members of the opposition New Democratic Party, which won seven of the 15 parliamentary seats in 2010 while the incumbent ULP won eight, and was returned to office.
The complaints were filed under the Representation of the People Act, under which anyone convicted of an offence is barred from voting or being a member of the House of Assembly for five years.
If the ruling had gone against Gonsalves or any other government area representatives, they would have resulted in a fall of the ULP administration and fresh elections.