St. John’s, Antigua, February 5th, 2023 – For the third time in the last two years, the Court has ruled in favor Asot Michael in his legal battle against the Gaston Browne led campaign to unconstitutionally and unlawfully cancel him from the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party and the political life of the country.
On Tuesday 31st January 2023, the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal dismissed an application by Executive Members of the Antigua Labour Party Mary Clare Hurst, Paul Chet Greene and Gaston Browne for a stay of proceedings pending appeal. The trio of ABLP leaders appealed a decision of the High Court made on 7th October 2022 setting aside a default judgment on a counterclaim obtained against MP Asot Michael on the basis that the judgment was irregular.
A single judge of the Court of Appeal agreed with the arguments of Michael’s legal representative Kema Benjamin of Marshall & Co. that the Appellants did not satisfy the requirements for obtaining a stay; the granting of the stay could effectively stay the entire proceedings or run the risk of having two claims which ought to be disposed together being separated; the balance of harm in having two separate claims proceed to trial was in Michael’s favour and the Appellants did not produce any cogent evidence which showed the appeal would be stifled or rendered nugatory should the stay not be granted.
This decision now allows MP Michael to continue with his claim filed against Hurst, Greene and Browne in the High Court in November 2021 challenging the legality of a Central Executive meeting held on 22nd October 2021, and any decisions made at that meeting, to his exclusion as the duly elected Member of Parliament for St. Peter. MP Michael was not given the customary notice of the meeting scheduled for 22nd October 2021 and was denied his constitutional rights under the Revised Constitution of the ABLP to attend.
He is also challenging the legality of a meeting held on 27th October 2021, which purported to elect a new ABLP branch executive for St. Peter, to his exclusion and the exclusion of members of the existing branch executive, and select Rawdon Turner as the ABLP’s candidate for St. Peter for the 2023 general election. MP Michael, as the then ABLP duly elected Member of Parliament for St. Peter and ex-officio member of the ABLP St. Peter branch had no prior knowledge of the meeting and was denied his constitutional rights under the Revised Constitution of the ABLP to attend the said meeting.
MP Michael was granted an interim injunction on 16th December 2021 restraining Mary Clare Hurst, Paul Chet Greene and Gaston Browne from excluding him from Central Executive meetings.