Labour Senator Raymond Roberts is adamant that he would “rather be kicked out of the Upper House of Parliament permanently than withdraw” statements made during a recent sitting relating to a company registered at the Supreme Court Registry in the name of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and Works Minister, Gregory Bowen.
Sen. Roberts was at the time contributing to the debate on the Physical Planning and Development Bill (2016), in which Minister Bowen is the line minister.
In an interview with THE NEW TODAY last week Friday afternoon after being forced to walk out of a sitting of the Upper House for a second time, Sen. Roberts maintained that “I shall not withdraw the document” as being demanded by President of the Senate, Chester Humphrey.
His comment followed disciplinary action taken again by Humphrey, who warned him that if he does not comply with the order of the House to withdraw the statements made during the (May 24) sitting he would not be recognised or allowed to contribute to the proceedings of the House.
“I expected President Humphrey to do what he did this evening…that’s his way of showing authority. I am not subjecting myself to anything like that…He just felt maybe he is going to teach me a lesson. He penalised me; I couldn’t participate in the debate. He stopped me and said I will not be allowed to continue…”, Sen. Roberts told this newspaper.
“I was most appropriately explaining to the nation (that) the Honourable Prime Minister and Honourable Gregory Bowen are two directors in a company…the company that they are involved in are going to be applying to the same ministry that the Honourable Gregory Bowen will have the authority of supervising the law. He (Gregory Bowen) picks the board, he picks the directors,” he said.
Sen. Roberts, once a close ally of Humphrey in the trade union movement, stated that he was not surprised at the position of the President of the Senate since he is one who does not give up and hates to lose any contest.
“Knowing President Humphrey as I do, he has to be a winner…I shall not withdraw anything…I don’t have any problem with the rules. The point I am making is that the rules are subjected they all apply to the President, he makes the rules and I will abide but that one is beyond my conscience – that’s why I am taking the consequences,” he said.
Sen. Humphrey is insisting that Sen. Roberts “openly defied the chair and was openly contemptuous to the chair,” by refusing to withdraw statements and a document referring to PM Mitchell and Minister Bowen.
The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has expressed solidarity with Sen. Roberts on his course of action.
Speaking on the issue during the weekly NDC press conference, the party’s Political Leader, Sen. Nazim Burke said the document at issue is very “significant” noting that “in the course of offering reasons why the document should be withdrawn, Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Sen. Simon Stiell pointed out that the company (Unity House Ltd.) was incorporated for the purposes of constructing the head office of the New National Party (NNP).
According to Sen Burke “the document says that the company would have no restrictions (and is) authorised to carry on the business of property development and any other business the directors consider advantageous; to acquire by purchase or otherwise land and property …. to carry on the business of property management and rental and any other business the directors consider advantageous…”.
Sen. Burke pointed out that, “it is of interest that these articles of incorporation never in one space does it mention that it is set up to construct the head office of the NNP.”
“Is this really what this company is about? Is it really for the purpose of constructing the offices of the NNP?
This is an important and legitimate question and that is why we express solidarity with Sen. Ray for sharing this document and for taking the stand that he took.
“We empathise with his position because we can see the value and the public interest in sharing a document like this.”
Sen. Humphrey, once a bitter opponent of PM Mitchell, is now supportive of the NNP regime under the banner of “Project Grenada” along with other expelled Congress members – former Tourism Minister, Peter David, ex-Works Minister Joseph Gilbert, and former NDC Chairman, Colin LaBarrie.