Former AG says honours unlawful

Simon’s opinion is in agreement with attorney Dr David Dorsett’s, who first commented on the matter, in the media, last Friday.

The awards were issued by former Governor General Dame Louise Lake Tack hours before she demitted office.

Simon noted, “In respect of the appointments being made, it is not unprecedented, because on the demission of office by Sir James Carlisle certain appointments were made by him.

“But let me also hasten to say that one previous instance does not a precedent create. It is in my view, that appointments which were made in the manner in which they were made by the former governor general were bad in law, just as they were in respect of Sir James Carlisle,” Simon said on OBSERVER radio’s Big Issues programme yesterday.

The Queen’s Counsel noted the National Honours Act of 1998, which was amended in 2000, gives the prime minister, opposition leader and governor general discretion to nominate persons for awards.

However, he said, the Act and related Regulations, outline who can be awarded and the procedure that must be followed.

Statutory instruments 2000, No.40, Regulation 3(1) he said, specifies that the governor general may, after consultation with the prime minster, appoint suitable and qualified persons from the ranks and office holders and others specified below to any of the Orders established under the National Honours Act.

“The list includes judges serving in Antigua & Barbuda, senior members of the clergy, ambassadors or high commissioners, the commanding officer of the Antigua & Barbuda Defence Force, the commissioner of police, governor general’s spouse, former prime ministers, heads of state and such other persons as the Governor General may, after consultation with the prime minister, nominate at whatsoever degree they consider appropriate,” Simon reported.

The former advisor to the recently ousted United Progressive Party (UPP) noted there are also instances where the governor general can make appointments under Regulation 4 without consultation with the prime minister, but there’s a guideline she must follow and a limit to the number she can issue.

Under the most Distinguished Order of the Nation, a governor general can grant one award of Knight/Dame Grand Cross in every other year and likewise, for Knight/ Dame Commander – one in every other year. For the awards of Commander, Officer or Member a governor general is authorised to issue one of each in any calendar year.

Under the Most Illustrious Order of Merit, each calendar year, the official can grant one Grand Cross award, one Grand Officer award, one Commander award, two Officer awards and three Member awards.

And, under the third area, the Most Precious Order of Princely Heritage, the Queen’s representative can issue a single award of Grand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer and Member, every calendar year.

Last Wednesday Dame Louise Lake Tack awarded nine knighthoods, and another 10 awards.

Dr David Dorsett, who again weighed in on the issue on yesterday’s Big Issues, also said it appeared Dame Louise did not follow the “qualifications” criteria as outlined in law.

The national honours bestowed less than a week ago have been mired in controversy, as, according to the ruling Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party administration, Dame Louise had no authorisation to do so.

The Gaston Browne administration accused the former governor general of diminishing the value of the awards by failing to follow the criteria in the law. As such, PM Browne said the awards would be revoked.


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