Queen’s Counsel Hal Gollop has come out swinging against radio commentators who have questioned why he was representing Prime Minister Freundel Stuart in the Hyatt court matter, particularly since the senior counsel works at the law firm founded by Stuart.
Not only has he dismissed any notion that Stuart would benefit financially from his involvement, but Gollop was adamant there was nothing unusual about a lawyer from a private law firm representing Government.
Deputy Solicitor General Donna Brathwaite, QC, was initially representing Stuart as Minister responsible for Town & Country Planning in the matter in which political activist David Comissiong is seeking judicial review of the multi-million-dollar Hyatt project. However, Gollop and his son, Steve Gollop, appeared on the Prime Minister’s behalf when the matter came up last week.
The situation has raised some eyebrows, with hosts and callers to VOB’s Down To Brass Tacks call-in programme questioning whether Harford Chambers, founded by the Prime Minister, would benefit from the Hyatt matter.
Since then, Gollop has gone on the war path over the comments, charging that there was a deliberate attempt by some to make it seem like Harford Chambers would reap the sweets of him being Stuart’s legal counsel.
“I would just like to disabuse the minds of any person out there that there is any benefit to be derived by anybody associated with Harford Chambers and it being a partnership. It is not a partnership. No one other than myself and my son, who is in association with me, stands to benefit from our involvement in this matter,” Gollop told Barbados TODAY.
The Queen’s Counsel stressed that every lawyer who works in Harford Chambers was a sole trader.
Gollop, who is also chairman of Government’s Employment Rights Tribunal, also pointed out that it was not out of the ordinary for an attorney in private practice to represent the Government of the day.
“I do not know how, in 2017, any serious Barbadian could be raising an issue about a lawyer from the private bar working for the Government. Years ago, I remember Mr Milton Pierce appearing for [then] Prime Minister [Erskine] Sandiford. I myself have done a number of cases for Government. The one that must have attracted most attention is the [Shanique] Myrie case in which members from the private bar . . . Mr Pat Cheltenham and Mr Roger Forde appeared for the Chief Immigration Officer.
“So I cannot understand at this stage anybody could be considering that this is something unusual,” Gollop argued.
The senior lawyer also took a swipe at two of the hosts on the VOB radio call-in programme saying, “I understand this is the silly season, but one would expect responsible people would rise above the level of silliness that this season is demonstrating.
I’m condemning Peter Wickham and David Ellis,” Gollop said.
“I heard [former Opposition representative] Mark Williams called in to ask if they know how Harford Chambers was founded . . . trying to give the impression that Harford Chambers would benefit, trying obviously to make a link with the Prime Minister benefiting from my involvement. I have been hired as a sole lawyer who has a long association with matters involving administrative law, as the record will reflect under both administrations. It is a mere coincidence that the only chambers I have ever practised from is Harford Chambers,” he insisted.