Queen’s Counsel Hal Gollop today called on Magistrate Graveney Bannister to recuse himself from an extradition matter involving a client, who is accused of engaging in sexual conduct with a person with a mental disorder, sometime on or before May 10, 2004.
The charge is one of eight arising out of incidents, which allegedly took place at a psychiatric hospital in Westminster, United Kingdom where Jason Forde, who currently resides at #2 Constance Drive, Seaview, Chancery Lane Christ Church, was employed as a nurse.
The extradition matter originally went before former Magistrate Deborah Holder but it now falls to Bannister to decide whether Forde should be extradited to England to stand trial.
However, when the matter was called today in the District ‘A’ Traffic Court, Gollop applied for Magistrate Bannister to recuse himself, while referring to a letter he had written to Bannister on May 12, outlining his concerns.
In it, he referred to Bannister’s decision not to grant an adjournment after he had made the request on account of the sudden death of Forde’s father, as well as the fact that he (Gollop) was due to appear in High Court on another matter at the same time.
He pointed out that Forde’s former attorney Sir Richard Cheltenham also could not attend court and had forwarded a sick certificate on a date of hearing.
Gollop said it was then that Bannister reportedly spoke to the doctor – a move which the Queen’s Counsel felt was disrespectful to Sir Richard since the word of an attorney usually acts as an affidavit in a court and judicial officers do not generally “look behind it”.
Under the circumstances, Gollop said, he did not believe Bannister could hear the matter “without being affected by bias”.
Gollop added that bias did not depend on actual bias but the perception of it.
In response, Dona Babb-Agard, who appeared for the Crown, told the court that the question of a recusal had taken her “by surprise” and Gollop should have notified the Crown of his intentions.
She added that the attorney had not brought “any substantial grounds” to support his application and to ask a magistrate to recuse himself required such.
Bannister ruled that he had not shown any bias in the matter and would therefore not recuse himself.
When legal arguments began, Gollop stated that there was nothing in Barbadian legislation equivalent to the charges laid against his client by the United Kingdom.
He said Section 4 of the Extradition Act required that the alleged offence for which the extradition was being sought, had to be a crime in the particular country and since that was not the case, Forde should not be extradited, nor could the court play the role of Parliament.
Gollop further argued that consensual sex was not frowned upon by Barbadian legislation unless it
involved a person under age 16, “an idiot, an imbecile or a subnormal person”, as stipulated in the Sexual Offences Act.
He further argued that in he particular case involving Forde, though it occurred in a mental institution,
and the female involved was a nurse who had suffered a mental breakdown, it could not be classified as any of the afore-mentioned.
Gollop argued that what took place between Forde and the woman might have been “unprofessional conduct” but did not constitute a crime under Barbadian law.
The question of a replacement surety also came to the fore today, since Forde’s father had been one of his two sureties. Magistrate Bannister allowed Forde’s $100 000 bail to continue on his own recognizance, along with the other surety. However, he has to reportto a police station daily until a second surety is forthcoming.
The matter is set to continue today.