Former supervisor of elections charged with felony counts of misconduct in public office
By Valencia Grant, press secretary to the prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Wingrove George, former supervisor of elections in St. Kitts and Nevis, was arrested and charged early Friday with two felony counts of misconduct in public office. He was subsequently granted bail for $50,000 – set at $25,000 on each count – with two sureties. His bail conditions include the surrender of all travel documents.
The counts refer to misconduct relating to two constituencies in terms of withholding their results: Saint Christopher #4 and Saint Christopher #8, which the Honourable Lindsay Grant and the Honourable Eugene Hamilton – both ministers in the government of National Unity – represent, respectively, as members of Parliament.
George allegedly halted the counts and did not declare the results until two days later surrounding the general elections of Feb. 16, 2015. The fiasco prompted swift rebuke from Caribbean heads of government, including then-Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who noted her concern that “the region’s reputation for democracy and for free and fair elections will be under threat as long as this issue in St. Kitts and Nevis remains unresolved.”
Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines the Hon. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said at the time that Wingrove George’s “unprecedented tardiness” had “given rise to unnecessary uncertainty, particularly against the backdrop of controversies surrounding the Motion of No Confidence against the government and the alteration of the constituency boundaries.”
On Dec. 11, 2012, the then-leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Mark Brantley, lodged with the clerk of the National Assembly a Motion of No Confidence in the Dr. Denzil Douglas-led administration. Brantley and his Team Unity colleagues requested that the Motion of No Confidence be placed on the Order Paper so that it could be debated in the Parliament. Their requests were ignored by then-Speaker of the House Curtis Martin, which resulted in the six claimants bringing two Motion of No Confidence cases before the St. Kitts Circuit. For more than two years, the Motion of No Confidence was never tabled, which deprived the parliamentarians of the opportunity to debate and vote on it in the Federal Parliament.
On Jan. 16, 2015, the then-Denzil Douglas-led government went to Parliament and introduced and passed a resolution to change electoral constituency boundaries, only to have an injunction or freeze order upheld just shy of a month later on Feb. 12, 2015, by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, England, which is the final court of appeal for St. Kitts and Nevis.
On Feb. 16, 2015, the Team Unity coalition led by the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris won a resounding victory at the polls.
On Nov. 7, 2017, Her Ladyship the Honourable Justice Pearletta Lanns comprehensively found in favour of the six claimants: Harris, who is now St. Kitts and Nevis’ prime minister; the Hon. Vance Amory; Brantley; the Hon. Sam Condor, now St. Kitts and Nevis’ permanent representative to the United Nations; Hamilton; and the Hon. Shawn Richards.
Her Ladyship granted six reliefs consisting of five declarations along with an order for the defendants to pay costs to the claimants due to her finding that “where, as in this case, the Speaker failed to facilitate the process by listing the motion for debate, and vote, then he is in violation of the rights conferred by section 52(6) of the Constitution of Saint Christopher and Nevis. “…Every elected member or elected representative in the National Assembly has an implied right under section 52-(6) of the Constitution of Saint Christopher and Nevis to bring a motion of no confidence, and to have that motion listed, debated and voted on without undue delay and within a reasonable time.”