It’s now official.
Attorney-at-law, James “Jimmy” Bristol late Friday filed legal papers in the Supreme Court Registry aimed at preventing Thursday’s referendum on Constitutional Reform from proceedings on the island.
Bristol confirmed this development to the NEW TODAY newspaper via a telephone call from neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago where he had journeyed earlier in the day for medical attention.
The legal action came less than 48-hours after the attorney had written to Supervisor of Elections, Alex Phillip raising issue with a number of alleged breaches of the Referendum act to facilitate next week’s balloting on seven bills to effect changes to the island’s 1974 Constitution document.
The lawsuit was filed by Bristol on behalf of Valerie Thompson-Duncan who is known to be a supporter of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
According to sources, the court documents were filed with the Supreme Court Registry close to 4.00 p.m, and one hour later served by a Bailiff, Terry Registe on the Supervisor of Elections.
This newspaper was on hand to witness Registe serving the court papers on Phillip who was dressed in his casual; home clothes.
The Supervisor had a look of shock on his face when he heard the camera clicking rapidly from on a top level of his home as the papers were handed to him.
He was heard whispering words to the effect – “The media is here too”.
Speculation is rife that Bristol had prepared the legal papers for filing days in advance.
The attorney had received a response from the Supervisor of Elections on Thursday seeking to address some of the alleged breaches of the Referendum Act.
THE NEW TODAY understands that the injunction being sought b y Bristol to put a hold on Thursday’s Referendum could be heard as early as Monday morning by a female high court judge.
Members of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) are due to cast their ballots on Monday in keeping with the law governing voting by the lawmen in national polls.
According to a legal source the police can go ahead and vote as there is no order from the court at the moment preventing then from doing so.
Following is the letter from Bristol that led to the filing of Friday’s legal action seeking to prevent Thursday’s referendum from taking place:
The Supervisor of Elections
14th November, 2016
We make the following observations with respect to the requirements of Section 5 of the Constitutional Referendum Act No. 25 of 2016 (“the Act”).
First we note that by section 5(1) of the Act, that each writ is to have the corresponding bill attached thereto.
Secondly, we note that by section 5(2) of the Act, you are immediately upon receipt of the writ and the attached copy of the relevant bill, to, inter alia, cause same to be published in two issues of the Gazette and two issues of two newspapers circulating regularly in Grenada not less than 21days before the date fixed for the constitutional referendum, in this case the24th November, 2016.
Thirdly, we note that the Writs together with the corresponding bill attached thereto were published as required by section 5(2) of the Act in the regular Gazette dated the 21st October and in an extra-ordinary
edition thereof dated the 26th October, 2016.
Fourthly, we note that the Writs were purportedly published in issues
of the Caribupdate weekly newspaper and the Grenada Advocate weekly newspaper.
Fifthly, we note that the Caribupdate issue of the 20th to the 26th October did not have the Writs as part of that issue.
Sixthly, we note that Caribupdate on the 21st of October, 2016, published a separate document containing the Writs.
Seventhly, we note that the Caribupdate publication of the 21st October, 2016 did not comply with section 5(2) of the Act in that the Writs did not have the corresponding bills attached thereto.
Eighthly, we note that the Caribupdate issue of the 27th October to the 2nd November, 2016, also did not comply with section 5(2) of the Act in that the Writs did not have the corresponding bills attached thereto.
Ninthly, we note that none of the Caribupdate issues/publications were deposited with the Registrar of the High Court as required by section 14(1) of the Newspapers Act.
Tenthly, we note that the Grenada Advocate published its regular issue dated the 21st October, 2016 which was deposited as required by section 14(1) Newspaper Act but which did not contain the Writs nor the corresponding bills as required by section 5(2) of the Act.
Eleventh, we note that the Grenada Advocate regular issue dated the 2lst October, 2016, contained neither the Writs nor the corresponding bills as required by section 5(2) of the Act.
Twelfth, we note that the Grenada Advocate purportedly published a second issue dated the 21st October,2016, containing the Writs but without the corresponding bills attached thereto as required by section 5(2).
Thirteenth, we note that the Grenada Advocate purportedly published another issue dated the 24th October, 2016, containing the Writs but without the corresponding bills attached thereto as required by section 5(2).
Fourteenth, we note that neither issue of the Grenada Advocate containing the Writs and the corresponding bills was deposited with the Registrar of the High Court as required by section 14(1) of the Newspapers Act.
Fifteenth, we note that the Grenada Advocate published its regular issue dated the 28th October, 2016, which was deposited as required by section 14(1) of the Newspaper Act but which did not contain the Writs nor the corresponding bills as required by section 5(2) of the Act.
Sixteenth, we note that the issues of the Grenada Advocate referred to in twelfth and thirteenth above were not available to the public at the usual outlets.
Seventeenth, we note that ballot paper samples do not conform with the requirements of section 10(3) of the Act in that the ballot paper contains both a distinct number and a distinct feature as opposed to one or the other.
Eighteenth, we understand that the already dated ballot papers for the aborted referendum of the 27th October,2016, are to be re-used for the 24th November. The ballot forms must be dated with the actual referendum date.
Nineteenth, non-compliance with section 14(1) of the Newspaper Act is a criminal offence.
The foregoing highlights serious deficiencies in the referendum process, which strike at the core of the legality of the holding of the referendum.
We are copying the Attorney General and invite your reasoned response by Thursday the 17th November, 2016, failing which we shall make the necessary application to the Court.
James A.L. Bristol