Speaker of the House of Assembly attorney-at-law Michael Carrington Q.C., wants the opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to end the talk about a court order that required him to hand over funds he was holding for a client, saying he has fully complied.
He said the entire ordeal had traumatized his family and hurt his professional career and reputation.
Carrington made known his opinion on the highly publicized matter for the first time last night at a meeting of his St Michael West Democratic Labour Party (DLP) constituency branch. He said continued talk about a matter that is now closed stands to tarnish his reputation as a lawyer, Member of Parliament, and an individual.
A few months ago, the High Court ordered Carrington to hand over to 78-year-old John Griffiths the sum of just over $200,000 that he was holding from a property sale. Griffiths took Carrington before the court after trying for a number of years to get the senior lawyer to hand over the money. Carrington subsequently paid the money.
“Basically . . . the story has . . . traumatized my family. It has endangered my professional career as an attorney-at-law and, of course, it has damaged, maybe irreparably, what little reputation I have as a law-abiding citizen in Barbados,” Carrington told the meeting at the St Leonard’s Boys’ School.
At the beginning of his 54-minute presentation, Carrington told the audience he would “take the opportunity to get a few things off my chest”. He never apologized for holding the client’s money for the length time he did, but focused his remarks on the fact that the court order was obeyed.
He also did not explain the reason for the lengthy delay in handing over the money to Griffiths, despite the elderly man claiming he had asked him several times to do so.
“I can fully understand when the story first blew up, people feeling ‘maybe we got he, he can’t account for this man money’. But you mean even after it is cleared, that I’ve complied with the order of the court, you still continue to talk your talk and slander my name, telling lies on me so?.That says to me that nothing is sacrosanct,” Carrington said.
“A lot of heavy weather has been made about the fact that somebody took Michael Carrington, attorney-at-law and Speaker, to court, but what is the big thing about that? As a Barbadian, if you feel that you have been wronged in some way, you have a right to go to court. Ask those walking about calling Michael Carrington a . . . thief if I had abided by the order of the court and if they, either in the past or when the time comes, have or can abide by the order of the court?”
Carrington told his constituents that he was exposed to virtuous teachings in his upbringing and the rules of his professional life ensured that he at all times acted within the law.
“When I came to law, to politics, I brought certain ideals with me,” he said. “Maybe I was fortunate that I was brought up in a house where people thought it was important that you go to church. There was a time when almost every day practically in the week, I would find myself at All Souls Church. I’m not saying that to say that I am any paragon of virtue but it gave me a foundation to help serve me in life to stop me from doing a number of things.”
“So I don’t lie . . . and I don’t steal, and that is not about to change. I also brought with me a belief in the rule of law and I am committed to that. After all, I am an attorney. As an attorney-at-law, you are an officer of the courts so you have to believe in the rule of law. As a Member of Parliament, you are a member of what is really the highest court in the land . . . so you have to believe in the rule of law.”
When news of the court order broke, the Opposition raised the issue in the House and asked for Carrington to vacate the Speaker’s chair, which he did for that sitting. Deputy Speaker Mara Thompson then took the chair and referred the matter to the Committee of Privileges which is yet to submit a report to the House.
After Carrington returned to the chair at the next sitting, the BLP boycotted the House for several weeks.