A decision was made months ago that, to avoid any potential conflicts in the COI, legal representation for Cabinet members should be different from other members of the House. The government, therefore, hired UK firm Withers Law for Cabinet and the local law firm Silk Legal for the remaining HOA members.
Contributing to the debate on Speaker Julian Willock’s failed court injunction, Opposition legislator Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull said Willock’s decision to file that injunction against three COI attorneys was seemingly directed by a select committee of the House.
“What I don’t understand is we have no say, no opinion, not an ounce of advice or suggestion surrounding the lawyers belonging to the five ministers and two junior ministers. Whatever they are doing is absent and outside of the members of the House of Assembly who are represented by Silk Legal,” Turnbull said.
“But it seems that when it comes to the lawyers that represent the seven of us (the other HOA members including the Speaker), there is direct contact, confirmation and decision that is carried out by the executive (Cabinet),” the Second District Representative added.
He said his issue on the matter comes from a simple place of principle. He said it cannot be that when things go bad, the Speaker wants support from HOA members but when the initial decision on the injunction was made, the members were not involved.
Turnbull said while watching the press conference about the now-failed injunction, the thing that caught his attention the most was the part that said the court action was “on behalf of the members of the House of Assembly”.
He also noted two additional correspondence that described the injunction as being “according to the wishes of the members of the House of Assembly”.
“I don’t understand when these meetings happened. I don’t know if a special select committee was called outside of this one but something is wrong,” the Second District Representative stated.
Yesterday’s debate was about Premier Fahie’s motion to establish special parliamentary committee to determine whether Willock had permission from the HOA members to file the injunction against the COI. The committee will also ultimately make recommendations to the HOA on whether taxpayers should be made to pay Willock’s hefty legal fees for the injunction.
The committee will have three to five persons and each political party represented in the House will have a representative. If the committee finds that Willock received permission from the House to file the injunction, the government will pay the cost of the legal fees. However, if they find he did not receive permission, he will have to pay the $121,000 out of his own pockets.