Queen’s Counsel Hal Gollop Sunday night warned that the issue of Opposition Leader Mia Mottley’s legal qualifications to practise law in Barbados was simply no laughing matter, while calling on Mottley to present the necessary documentary evidence.
Addressing party faithful at a joint meeting of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) branches in Christ Church, Gollop also urged Government to get to the bottom of the issue, saying it could have serious implications for the decisions taken by Mottley during her tenure as this island’s attorney general.
“This is not a trivial situation. We have got to look at it very carefully and the annual conference sent a resolution to the learned attorney general about what they think should be done,” Gollop told those gathered at the Deighton Griffith Secondary School.
Gollop made reference to Australia, where the high court last week ruled that the deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce and four other politicians who had been elected to the senate were wrongly elected because they had dual citizenship.
The court’s decision means the five were disqualified from office although Joyce, who renounced his New Zealand citizenship in August, could return through a by-election.
The seven-judge bench ruled that the five politicians were ineligible as a “subject or citizen of a foreign power”, under to the constitution’s section 44(i).
The DLP has not openly stated that Mottley is not qualified to practise law, and has instead asked Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite to investigate whether or not she has a legal education certificate (LEC) require to practise here.
Mottley’s former Cabinet colleague and longtime friend Elizabeth Liz Thompson preempted any such probe when she revealed on Saturday evening that the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) leader did not have an LEC, but did not require one when she was called to the bar.
It was not immediately clear if the DLP intends to challenge Mottley in court, in very much the same way that the Australian politicians were brought before the court, and Gollop gave no indication of the ruling party’s intention when he addressed the issue last night.
Instead, he sought to cast doubt on the legality of decisions taken by Mottley when she was the country’s attorney general from 2001-2003 during the Owen Arthur administration.
“The real crux of the matter is that since he represented the Government and might have executed deals and treaties on behalf of the state, what would be the implications for him having done that job having not being qualified to do this?”, the senior attorney-at-law asked in relation to the Australian politician.
“So this must raise questions about what the goodly lady did while she was attorney general. So it is not a trivial thing at all,” Gollop stressed.
It was just over a week ago that DLP General Secretary George Pilgrim reported that a letter would be immediately dispatched to Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite calling for an investigation into the requirements necessary to practise law in Barbados.
The decision to write to Brathwaite was taken at the ruling party’s general conference last month at which a resolution was adopted questioning Mottley’s qualifications to practise law here.
During her address at the 79th BLP annual conference in Queen’s Park over the weekend, Thompson described the DLP’s claims as nonsense, stating that Mottley was admitted to the bar in December 1984 and presented by Sir Henry Forde and Sir Maurice King, former attorneys general for the BLP and DLP respectively.
“The Dems would now have you believe, if you pick apart what they are saying, that they conspired to do something illegal to get Mottley to practise law in Barbados when she was not entitled,” Thompson said.
Thompson also argued that there were others in the legal fraternity who did not have the LEC but were still allowed to practise law.
However, Gollop contended that Thompson’s defence was far from adequate, while suggesting that Mottley could remove any doubt about her legitimacy as lawyer by producing the necessary documents.
“This thing has created doubt. You [Mia Mottley] have brought certain documents to dispel the doubt, but even after you have brought the documents there is still doubt, so onus is on you to clear it up.
“The ball is in her court and all of you must call upon her and let her understand that if you want to be the leader of this country, you have got to demonstrate beyond any doubt that you have the requisite integrity that will not mislead us on something as fundamental as this, where your right to practise law after 30 years could still be a question left to be resolved,” Gollop stressed.