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Govt’s way

marciadottin, [email protected]

Govt’s way

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GOVERNMENT will be headed to Parliament shortly in a bid to safeguard the appointment of Marston Gibson as the next Chief Justice of Barbados by the end of February.
 A senior official yesterday told the SUNDAY?SUN that, with or without the support of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP), Government intended to press ahead with the  amendment to the Supreme Court of Judicature Act.
“Government’s position [regarding Gibson] has not changed,” the official said in response to concerns raised on the BLP platform in the St John by-election campaign about the planned appointment of the Barbadian-born and Caribbean-educated New York judge.
“If it reaches a point that the legislation will have to be changed, then so be it.”
The official also accused the BLP of playing politics with the appointment, while charging that “they too were courting the same Gibson to be a judge”.
“David Thompson [the late Prime Minister] opposed the appointment of David Simmons as Chief Justice right after being Attorney General, and now Owen Arthur [Opposition Leader, former Prime Minister who recommended Simmons] is opposing this appointment with no moral grounds. But the truth is the Government believes he [Gibson] is best suited for the job.”
SUNDAY SUN investigations reveal that as far back as 2007 there have been deliberate attempts to have Gibson appointed to the judiciary. It was former Prime Minister Owen Arthur who first approached Gibson in New York three years ago. The then Attorney General Dale Marshall also spoke to him via cellphone concerning a judicial appointment.
Yesterday Marshall, now Deputy Leader of the Opposition, confirmed having a discussion with Gibson, but maintained that he did not offer him a job.
“I asked him if he had any interest in returning to the Caribbean and about his future plans. I did not approach him about an appointment to the bench. I asked him about his long-term plans, not about any appointment.”
The bottom line, according to Marshall, was that Gibson did not meet all the criteria as set out by Barbados Supreme Court Judicature Act to become Chief Justice, and as such the BLP would not support his appointment, or any amendment to the legislation.
“You cannot change legislation to accommodate any individual person or circumstance. We cannot be so whimsical. The standards or criteria cannot just be changed like that. Currently the law states that you must be practising in Barbados or the Commonwealth for 15 years, and he does not meet that criteria.”
The Deputy Opposition Leader asked: “Is there no one in Barbados that meets the qualification or suits apointment? As far as I know, there are others in Barbados that are qualified to serve as Chief Justice.”
Last year, both the late Prime Minister David Thompson and current Prime Minister Freundel Stuart also held separate talks with Gibson, who yesterday told the SUNDAY?SUN he had also been asked by the Democrats and Republicans in the United States, but he would prefer to return home.
“Elections in the United States require money and this could mean a benefator or benefactors who may feel you are in some way indebted to them. I would rather feel comfortable that tomorrow, or in five, ten, 15 years’ time I could adjudicate a case in Barbados involving Freundel Stuart and not feel obliged to anyone.
“You are recommended and once appointed there are no obligations to anyone. I would not have it any other way.”