There’s hope of an out-of-court settlement in the Dr Maria Agard expulsion case.
Barbados TODAY understands that the matter is currently engaging Barbados Labour Party (BLP) officials at a very senior level, who are said to have no appetite for seeing the party’s affairs drag out any further in the public domain.
Today, the name of party stalwart and former representative for Christ Church West Sir Henry Forde was also being mentioned as a possible eleventh hour mediator in the dispute, which has pitted Dr Agard against the Mia Mottley-led National Council of the BLP.
However, with both Sir Henry and Mottley currently said to be out of the country, sources said it may take longer than a week to broker an amicable settlement which would nullify the need for any legal course of action.
Just yesterday Dr Agard issued a seven day ultimatum to the party, warning that her dismissal should be overturned or else she would be heading to the law courts for redress.
The threatened move has been sharply criticized by two leading political scientists, who warned that though the embattled Christ Church West MP had a constitutional right to take her case to the law courts, the true power of a political party did not reside there.
Dr George Belle, who is a former lecturer in Political Science at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, stressed that the issue was one of power relations and not law,
“In that sense the BLP would have to make a decision ultimately that is in its interpretation, in its political interest. If the BLP is seen as not giving Dr Agard a fair hearing and therefore not in the political interest of the party, then it would have to concede that and back off from the conclusion they came to so far.”
However, he cautioned that the law courts could not dictate that the BLP must “associate” with Dr Agard.
“The law courts can only say that the procedures used to get rid of her were not according to natural justice.
“The law courts could indicate that, but the BLP can say it has vested interest and reason why it had to act in the way it did because of the party’s interests.”
Mottley, in giving reasons for the action taken against Dr Agard on November 22, said the Christ Church West MP was not a team player and had engaged in “inappropriate” conduct, following four years of strained relations between Dr Agard and her branch executive.
However, Dr Agard countered this assessment yesterday, contending that at the root of the issue is the fact that she “dared to speak out” against her leader, who she likened to a bully.
“I dared to speak out against the unconstitutional, the unauthorized and bullying tactics of a political leader who is not accustomed to be told that she is wrong, even when she contemptuously violates the very constitution she espouses to uphold,” charged Dr Agard, who also described the BLP leadership as “tyrannical and autocratic”.
However, Dr Belle cautioned that “going to court does not resolve the matter”.
His position was supported by fellow political scientist, Dr Tennyson Joseph who argued that the Christ Church West MP was attempting to turn a political problem into a technical legal problem.
“I think that is an error many younger politicians tend to make. I am not sure what kind of decision she is expecting from the court. So if the court says the party was wrong to expel [Dr] Agard, is the court going to demand that the political party accepts an individual the party has said it is not going to accept?”
He explained this would be “an untenable situation” since there were no moral or correct political decisions if a political party decided upon a candidate for a particular seat, or to expel a member.
“A party can do so on ideological grounds, even though I do not think that is the case with [Dr] Agard. So imagine a court imposing someone on a party and that person’s ideology is quite different,” Dr Joseph emphasized.
He suggested that certain people who he did not identify, having recognized the situation as a political issue, felt it was in their interest to make things “as messy and as muddy” as possible.
“That is the only commonsense that I can see in that legal challenge. In spite of the fact that all of these people would have understood that it is power relations and not a legal issue, it is in the interest of some people and a clique to have the issue in court so that it can play out as if there is instability in the BLP.”
Meantime, while stating that he felt Dr Agard “has a strong case”, former Democratic Labour Party (DLP) deputy Prime Minister Sir Phillip Greaves said it would be difficult for the BLP to embrace her if she carried out her threat to take the matter to court.
“I honestly feel she has a strong case if she decides to go that route . . . that is the route of vindicating herself legally through the court; but I don’t see her doing that [and] at the same time being received back into the party,” Sir Phillip, a senior lawyer, told Barbados TODAY.
At the same time he advised the party elders not to get involved in the dispute, saying the Christ Church West MP should work out her own solution.
Sir Phillip added that the way the situation was handled left a lot to be desired, but did not think it would result in Mottley’s ousting.
Only yesterday, Dr Agard told a Press conference she intended to take her expulsion to court to have it determine whether the party’s decision to dismiss her was fair and just.
Barbados TODAY has learnt that attorney-at-law Roger Forde QC, may be retained by the BLP to present its case if the matter goes to court.
When contacted today Forde appeared set for a lengthy battle.
“I may be retained,” he told Barbados TODAY. “If I am retained by the BLP I have promised to take the matter right up to the Caribbean Court of Justice because I do not think there is any merit in the case.”