I have no argument with the Phillip/Grant case but I do harbor serious doubts when it comes to the Liburd/Hamilton matter. In a previous article I said about Mr. Liburd’s dogged and fool hardy insistence on continuing with the case: “If he is funding it personally I would drop this like a hot potato and urge him to barrel through.” And barrel through he did, leading me to believe that the expense was his to shoulder.
However, somehow, somewhere, someone made the decision for the government to become involved on the side of Mr. Liburd and, in fact, made no secret of the fact, describing it as being in the public’s interest. This was when I concluded that, at least, some of the bills would have been shouldered by the public.
My reason for saying this is that the Attorney General and his staff are all public officials who do not work pro bono, given that the monthly salaries they earn are paid from the public purse. As such, and despite Dr. Browne’s assertion, common sense alone determines that anything done by either of them in relation to this matter, little or much, was done at public expense.
From comments I heard and read, the learned judge who heard the Liburd/Hamilton case, apparently did not see any need for the government’s involvement in the matter and said as much in her judgment. So, then, we have the government announcing that they became involved; we also have the judge mentioning the said involvement. By becoming involved, the government would have practically taken over the case because one cannot conceive a situation in which the private citizen in Cedric Liburd would have funded proceedings that are in the public interest.
By involving itself in the matter, despite having a battery of lawyers in its employ and at its disposal, the government demonstrated a wanton disregard for the facts of case as well as the dire economic straits in which the country is currently mired.
The case started with Mr. Liburd asserting that Mr. Hamilton was, at the time of his nomination as a candidate in January’s election, the holder of a United States passport and went as far as quoting what he purported to have been the number of Mr. Hamilton’s passport.
In at least one forum, Mr. Hamilton tabled his “Green Card”, a move that should have sent a strong signal to Mr. Liburd that his case had fallen flat on its face and that he should have withdrawn it at that time. This is because the holder of a “Green Card” does not have to swear any oath of allegiance to anything or anyone. In addition, one cannot have both passport and “Green Card” at the same time because, while the “Green Card” endows the non national with the uninhibited right to reside and work in the country, the passport is for citizens only. If you have one, you do not need the other. And for anyone born outside of the United States, becoming a citizen requires the swearing of an oath of allegiance which, once it is completed, brings a national of St. Kitts and Nevis into conflict with the provisions of Section 28 (1) of our constitution, should he/she decide to seek election to the National Assembly.
The lines are clear and unambiguous and I venture to say that they were not at all oblivious to Mr. Liburd, Dr. Browne or the government.
The facts notwithstanding, the case continued; then, the Attorney General joined the bandwagon. I reiterate that it was at this juncture that public funds came into the picture, despite Dr. Browne’s statement to the contrary.
On the other hand, on what authority could Dr. Browne have spoken as he did? In making his statement, he would have functioned only as the attorney representing Messrs. Phillip and Liburd, and not as a representative of the government. As far as I know the only officers qualified to have made the assertion are the Attorney General, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance. As it turns out, the Prime Minister is also the Minister of Finance.
Quite apart from the abundance of his clarity, Dr. Browne’s pronouncement amounted to nothing more than a window-dressing exercise; and given his obviously profound brilliance he would have known that. He knows as well that endeavouring to defend the indefensible is always going to be an uphill battle.