Attorneys representing independent Member of Parliament Asot Michael has given Speaker of the House of Assembly, Sir Gerald Watt, until Thursday (May 25) to rescind his “unlawful” and “unconstitutional” suspension.
In a legal letter, attorney Hugh Marshall contended that Watt acted outside of the standing orders (SO) when he asked parliamentarians to suspend Michael, the Member of Parliament for the St Peter constituency, for three sittings.
Marshall said the House of Representatives “had no power to make standing orders providing for the suspension of a member and SO 50(7) was, accordingly, unconstitutional.”
He added that, “even if the House did have the power to make rules providing for the suspension of a member, it had no power to make rules providing for the suspension of a member for three or more sittings and SO 50(8) was, accordingly, unconstitutional, null and void.”
Marshall said the suspension was imposed simply to punish Michael and it did not follow the mandatory procedural steps specified by SO 50(7).
The lawyer highlighted that Watt did not take similar action against his colleagues on the government benches when they engaged in cross talk with Michael, who was forcibly removed from the May 18 sitting for displaying what the speaker termed hooligan behaviour.
The attorney has asked that Watt confirm in writing that he will not prevent Michael from attending upcoming sitting.
“Unless we receive your written confirmation by close of business Thursday 25th May 2023, we will be compelled to commence appropriate legal proceedings to protect the rights of our client as enshrined in the Constitution,” Marshall added.
AN ORCHESTRATED SUSPENSION?
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Gisele Isaac said the suspension of MP Asot Michael appears to have been orchestrated after a day of provocation.
Reviewing Michael’s behaviour, Isaac said, as Speaker, she had experienced some of the worst behaviour in Parliament – from now Prime Minister Browne.
“MP Michael endured a great deal of provocation from the Government bench on Thursday,” Isaac noted while noting that an elected member of the House he should not have been treated in such a way by the Speaker.
She also said she was shocked, at one point, when Michael was prevented from speaking, even when he was attempting to continue his debate on a matter.
According to Isaac, the entire parliamentary proceedings that day seemed to have been about intimidation, and what transpired should not have been allowed to happen.
READ: Antiguan legislator suspended from parliament for ‘hooliganism’ – Our Today