House Speaker Michael Carrington has broken his silence. But we are left to wonder who is the wiser at the end of it.
Almost four months after the attorney-at-law landed in the spotlight following an eyebrow-raising High Court judgment, Speaker Carrington told a branch meeting of his St Michael West Constituency yesterday that he had to clear his chest. But the contents coughed up suggested there was still need for more clearance.
We have only been left with unanswered questions about the matter that prompted the Opposition Barbados Labour Party’s staying away from Parliament for several sittings, and calls from other sections of the society for the House Speaker to step down.
Said Mr Carrington: “The story has traumatized my family; it has endangered my professional career as an attorney-at-law in Barbados; and of course it has damaged, maybe irreparably, what little reputation I have as a law-abiding citizen in Barbados. And I take strong objection to that!”
The Speaker went on to insist that he would not further discuss the subject on the grounds that the matter had been referred to the Committee of Privileges.
“I do not intend to discuss my client or my former client’s business. If you want some kind of sexy story about a client, go to another attorney,” he said.
This media house is not interested in “sexy” stories, but rather transparency and the truth from those elected to serve in public office.
Our recollection of the report, which first surfaced on January 11, revealed that on December 9, 2014, High Court judge Justice Jacqueline Cornelius ordered Mr Carrington to render an account of all sums owed to John Griffiths from the sale of his aunt’s property.
Mr Carrington was also ordered to pay nearly $1/4 million to his client, which was overdue for some time –– from said sale of property, as well as other bank deposits.
A court judgment is rooted in facts after careful deliberation of evidence. We have no reason to doubt the integrity of judicial process.
Barbados Today also spoke to Mr Griffiths who confirmed in a January 15 interview that “[Mr Carrington] was supposed to probate the will, and what happened is he got all the assets from my aunt. My aunt had two properties and one was sold. I thought he was going to turn it over to me, but he never did. So at the moment, he has all the assets of my aunt’s properties”.
With this information in the public domain, Mr Carrington who occupies the seat of order in the nation’s highest court –– Parliament, if only because it enacts laws and sets Government policies –– had a duty to speak, long before the matter was handed to the Committee of Privileges.
Public officials must always be mindful that their private and professional lives are always open to scrutiny.
Furthermore, Mr Carrington –– who made it clear during his speech yesterday that he thought it “an affront to the dignity and the decency of the House” for people and Members to Parliament to be commenting on the matter which is before Parliament’s disciplinary committee –– should be reminded that in the absence of information, speculation breeds. Prudence dictated then that immediate action was necessary to spare the office of House Speaker any fallout, particularly since the Speaker’s duty is to uphold order in and the integrity of Parliament.
Still, we stay clear of casting any aspersions on the Speaker or passing any final judgement. And we are not unfeeling towards him in how the events will have affected him and his family. But we cannot help but consider too the anxiety and stress that Mr Griffiths suffered after not receiving moneys rightfully owed him in proper time.
We aver that an apology is in order from the Speaker –– not as any admission of “guilt” necessarily; but as a demonstration of empathy for his former client.
Mr Carrington says he is “still waiting for the report” from the Committee of Privileges, after which it is laid before the House of Assembly he “will have further say on the matter”.
We welcome this news. We hope too that we are not left waiting in vain by the Committee of Privileges, or Mr Carrington himself.