(OBSERVER)St Mary’s South MP Kelvin ‘Shugy’ Simon has submitted an official letter to the Speaker of the House asking him to reconsider his refusal to accept his resignation.
The former guidance counsellor hand-delivered the letter to Sir Gerald Watt’s office on Wednesday morning.
In it, Simon says he has been advised that his original letter of resignation as an MP – sent to the Speaker last week – was in order and took effect upon receipt by Sir Gerald.
He says he believes that section 41 (1) (e) of the Constitution that Sir Gerald previously cited in claiming the proper procedure was not followed does not apply.
He goes on to say, “You Sir are imposing upon me a political requirement to resign and withdraw my allegiance from the United Progressive Party which, with respect, is not a requirement under Section 125.
“Accordingly Sir, I am advised that I have acted lawfully and fulfilled the requirements of section 125 and I request that you reconsider your position of refusing to accept my resignation.”
The 43-year-old from Bolans became a first-time MP after January’s general election in which he defeated the ABLP’s Samantha Marshall by almost 200 votes.
But his position has been steeped in controversy with the ruling Labour Party claiming he was ineligible for office as he was still a civil servant at the time of his official nomination, despite the fact he quit the job a fortnight before the election.
Simon announced on June 7 that he was resigning as an MP in a bid to avoid a lengthy legal battle that he said was unfair to his constituents.
By law, a by-election must be held within 120 days of an MP’s resignation. Simon has already declared his intention to run for the seat again – and expressed confidence he will once again be successful in winning the vote.
How did we get here: A timeline
By Robert A. Emmanuel
As the debate over the House Speaker’s rejection of Kelvin “Shugy” Simon’s resignation as MP for St Mary’s South rages on in the public space, Observer media sought to understand how the first-time politician found himself at the centre of a political, constitutional and legal controversy since his electoral victory on January 18.
As Simon continues to face an election petition against him over his nomination, Observer media takes you back to August 2022 where this story officially began:
- In August 2022, Simon was nominated by the United Progressive Party to take over stewardship of its St Mary’s South branch and become their nominee for the upcoming general election, replacing long-time politician Corthwright Marshall out of concern for Marshall’s health.
- Simon—a guidance counsellor for the Ministry of Education—was well known in the community prior to his run for politics, and internal party polls suggested he was the best candidate to run against the two-time incumbent Samantha Marshall.
- In December 2022 – and after months of speculation – Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced January 18 as election day and December 28 as nomination day.
- On December 28, Kelvin Simon was nominated by members of the constituency. He was still a civil servant at the time.
- In January 2023, a fortnight before the election, Simon resigned from the Ministry of Education.
- On January 6, then Supervisor of Elections Dame Lorna Simon told media houses that the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) had no authority to prevent any individual from being nominated once they had passed the criteria established under the law.
- PM Browne and Marshall stated their intention to challenge Simon in the courts if he won his seat.
- Simon and UPP executives rebuffed what they deemed as threats at the time, claiming that they were on solid legal ground with respect to Simon’s nomination.
- On January 23, St Mary’s South constituent Casworth Aaron filed an election petition against Simon.
- The heart of the case rests in the meaning of section 10.1 of the Civil Service Act and Section 39.1(g) of the Constitution. The latter reads: “No person shall be qualified to be elected as a member of the House who holds or is acting in any public office or in the office of judge of the Supreme Court or Ombudsman or is a member of the Constituencies Boundaries Commission, the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, the Public Service Commission or the Police Service Commission.”
- Attorney Hugh Marshall Jr who represents Casworth Aaron said that “anyone who is a member of the public service at the time of his nomination is ineligible to be a member of the House of Representatives”.
- The Civil Service Act states that “a civil servant is disqualified for membership of the Senate or the House of Representative or any local government body”.
- In February, High Court Justice Dia Forrester rejected the petitioners’ application for an interim injunction to prevent Simon from sitting as MP while the case was being heard.
- On February 14, Simon was officially sworn in as the MP for St Mary’s South.
- A hearing on the election petition was set for July.
- On June 7, Simon announced that he was resigning as an MP in a bid to force a by-election. He said a protracted legal battle was unfair to his constituents and was hindering work he wanted to do in the area.
- PM Browne and ABLP supporters claimed that Simon’s attempt to resign was because Simon knew his nomination was invalid. The PM also said the authority to call a by-election rested with him.
- On June 12, the Speaker of the House Sir Gerald Watt KC said he was rejecting Simon’s resignation.
- On June 14, Simon formally asked the Speaker to reconsider that decision.