<<< FNM Chairman, Carl Bethel.
Following serious charges by PLP leader Perry Christie and Bradley Roberts that the FNM is meddling in the Judiciary Carl Bethel made the following statement.
PRESS STATEMENT: The Free National Movement totally rejects the suggestion made by PLP Leader Perry Christie, and the Chairman of that party, Bradley Roberts, that there has been manipulation of the Constitution in connection with the resignation from the House of Assembly of Malcolm Adderley, MP for Elizabeth Estates, and his reported interest in becoming a Justice of the Supreme Court.
We understand why Mr. Christie and Mr. Roberts are in a state of panic. This is the second Member of Parliament they are losing since the last election and the whole country knows that the PLP is fractured and in a state of chaos.
So that is why they are making extreme and desperate statements and seeking to place the blame on others for the state in which they find themselves. And of course, it is easy to blame Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham for their political woes.
But the truth is that Mr. Ingraham is in no way responsible for the state of affairs in which the PLP leaders find themselves, and their allegation of constitutional manipulation is utter nonsense. The facts of the matter are very simple and easy to understand.
In the first place, it has been public knowledge ever since the general election in 2007 that Mr. Adderley was no longer happy with the PLP and the leadership of Mr. Christie, for whatever reasons.
Secondly, it has also been public knowledge that Mr. Adderley was interested in serving his country on the Supreme Court having acted in that capacity previously.
So it should surprise no one that upon his resignation from the House he may still be interested in becoming a judge. No one — not even Mr. Christie and Mr. Roberts — has challenged his qualifications.
The Prime Minister is performing his public duties in accordance with the law and the Constitution. What is frustrating to Mr. Christie and Mr. Roberts is that Hubert Ingraham is Prime Minister and the FNM is the Government, facts that they have stubbornly refused to come to terms with ever since the election.
Furthermore, all their talk about politicizing the courts is rubbish. It is the policy of the FNM Government and, we believe, of the Judicial Services Commission, to find qualified judges to serve in our high courts regardless of political affiliations.
That is why the Commission recommended the appointment of Mrs. Ruby Nottage to serve as a Justice, presumably with no objections from Mr. Ingraham. There was public unease about that appointment not because she was PLP-affiliated but because of an alleged problem with the American Government.
Both former Chief Justice Burton Hall and Justice Jon Isaacs are known to have strong PLP family connections, and Justice Neville
Adderley ran in elections twice on the PLP ticket before becoming a judge. And there were others with political backgrounds who have sat on the Supreme Court.
The FNM did not object to any of them because they are qualified Bahamians. The PLP should try to be just as gracious when it comes to judges who may have had a connection with the FNM. After all, they are Bahamians too.
Progressive Liberal Party
Responds to FNM Denial of meddling in the Judiciary
January 6, 2010
The FNM has moved from its attempts to destroy the independence of the judiciary to personal attacks on our judges.
MP Carl Bethel as a former Attorney General knows that Judges are people who cannot speak to defend themselves. It is a cowardly act to attack or criticize someone who cannot defend themselves.
Sir Burton Hall, Senior Justice John Isaacs and Retired Justice Rubie Nottage are hardworking honest people; who are all non political; None of whom has ever occupied high political office nor any political office; their appointments were not political favours; and they continue to serve The Bahamas with great distinction.
Comparing their appointments to the pending appointment is like comparing apples and oranges.
We have no objection to any qualified Bahamian becoming a Judge. We are concerned about the recent trend (since May 2007) of how people become a Judge. It was unprecedented before 2007 for anyone to move for AG/Cabinet Minister/member of the Executive to Judge (Claire Hepburn) and Chief Justice (Michael Barnett). The manner in which these appointments were made raised questions about and challenged the doctrine of separation of powers which is enshrined in our Constitution.
Now we have a person moving directly from the Legislature to the Judicature ostensibly to accommodate an FNM political objective. This is unprecedented and wrong. It is destructive of the independence of the Judiciary.
We note that the FNM statement says that Malcolm Adderley is interested in becoming a Judge. The Constitution stipulates that the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (“JLC”) shall have responsibility for the appointment of Judges. The composition of the JLC changed after 31st December, 2009. The JLC as formerly comprised did not consider the matter of a judicial appointment for Malcolm Adderley. As at 6th January, 2010, we have every reason to believe that that JLC has not met to consider any judicial appointment for Malcolm Adderley.
We urge the FNM to cease their personal attacks on judges and we urge the FNM to stop undermining the independence of the Judiciary.
Interesting question is why did Mr. Adderley resign from the Supreme Court in the first place? What was the real story behind his departure? It is interesting to note that Mr. Adderlesy sits as an anomaly among senior members of the bar in that he does not have a successful practice. Most MP’s leave a successful practice and have the option of returning but Mr. Adderley seems to be obligated to accept even stipendiary positions from the party which he swore to oppose. A very curious situation indeed.
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