Election challenge too late

The challenge to Mark Scotland’s and Dwayne Seymour’s elections has been thrown out of court.

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie ruled Monday that the challenge was brought too late and that what was filed was not in the prescribed form of an election petition.

Under the Elections Law the challenge should have been made 21 days after Mr. Scotland and Mr. Seymour were officially announced winners in the Bodden Town election. The challenge was made 26 days later.

The Chief Justice said the challengers were required to bring their challenge by election petition.

‘If the time limits imposed by the Elections law can be by-passed, then there would be no time limits at all. That cannot be a proper interpretation of the constitutional intent,’ he said.

The challengers said the two successful candidates were disqualified because they had not met the deadline for filing notice of their contracts with Government. Neither their attorneys nor the court addressed the correctness of the allegation.

While the challenge made by voters in the district has been dismissed, it is still possible for Attorney General Sam Bulgin to take action.

‘This conclusion does not affect the standing of the Attorney-General to bring a motion, if it is appropriate to do so, in the public interest,’ Chief Justice Smellie said.

Speaking for the two MLAs, Ramon Alberga QC and Attorney Steve McField applauded what they called a landmark judgment. Mr. Alberga asked that costs be awarded on the standard basis. Their team was led by Lord Pannick and included Attorneys Michael Alberga and Christopher McDuff.

On behalf of the challengers, Attorney David McGrath asked that the question of costs be reserved until he spoke with his clients and senior counsel.

He and Attorney James Kennedy had instructed Attorney Gerard Clarke to act for Gordon Solomon, Sandra Catron, Ronald Ebanks, Jean Ebanks, Roxanne Basham-Ebanks and Michael McLaughlin.

The court set no date for the costs hearing.