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Court Denies Appeal by Former Supervisor of Elections

Monday, August 17, 2020

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Office of the AG

 
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HIGHLIGHTS

Former Supervisor of Elections Wingrove George was charged with the offence of misconduct in public office arising from his alleged failure to announce the results of the 2015 General Elections for Constituencies Numbers 4 and 8.
Mr. George brought an application for leave to apply for judicial review against the Senior Magistrate and the Director of Public Prosecutions alleging that since the conduct complained of was committed during the course of an election the charges should have been brought pursuant to the National Assembly Elections Act by way of an Election Petition.
The Senior Magistrate and the Director of Public Prosecutions argued that Election Petitions were only relevant to matters concerning whether or not a candidate had been validly elected to the National Assembly.
The trial judge agreed with the position taken by the Senior Magistrate and the Director of Public Prosecutions and dismissed Mr. George’s application seeking judicial review with costs.
On appeal to the Court of Appeal, the Court dismissing the appeal, ruled that the election jurisdiction is a limited jurisdiction which relates to the validity of the election of members of the National Assembly. The alleged conduct of Mr. George did not in any way affect the validity of the election of members to the National Assembly and the electoral jurisdiction of the court was not engaged. The Court of Appeal allowed Mr. George's appeal in relation to costs and ordered that each party bear his own costs.

The Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeal of Wingrove George, the former Supervisor of Elections. Wingrove George was charged with the offence of misconduct in public office arising from his actions during the 16th February, 2015 when he refused to announce the results of constituencies number 4 and 8. On the 26th January, 2018 Mr. George challenged the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions to commence prosecutions and the decision of the Magistrate to issue the summons. He brought an application for judicial review against the Senior Magistrate and the Director of Public Prosecutions. Mr. George alleged that the Magistrate had no jurisdiction to try the charges. Mr. George contended that because the conduct complained of arose during the conduct of an election, the charge had to be tried by election petition filed within 21 days of the election. The Senior Magistrate and the Director of Public Prosecutions argued in response that the election petition only related to matters concerning whether or not a candidate had been validly elected to the National Assembly.

The trial judge, Justice Eddy Ventose, agreed with the position taken by the Senior Magistrate and the Director of Public Prosecutions dismissed Mr. George’s application seeking judicial review with costs. Mr. George appealed both the dismissal of his application for judicial review and the order for costs. The Court of Appeal agreed with the arguments made by the Senior Magistrate and the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Court of Appeal held that the election petition was only to be used where one complains that a member of National Assembly had not validly been elected and that Mr. George’s prosecution and potential conviction would not affect the result of the elections. The Court of Appeal also held that the offence of misconduct in public office was an offence at common law which is incorporated in the law of Saint Kitts and Nevis and was not repealed or removed by Parliament. The Court of Appeal however allowed his appeal in relation to costs and ordered that both sides should bear their own costs.

Mr. Wingrove George was represented by Mr. Sylvester Anthony and Ms. Angelina Gracy Sookoo-Bobb. The Senior Magistrate and the Director of Public Prosecutions was represented by Mr. Dane Hamilton Q.C. and Mr. Victor Elliott-Hamilton. 

See Judgement here 

 

 

It is the principal mission of the Office of the Attorney General to provide legal advice and services to and on behalf of The Crown, and to conduct and respond to all matters of litigation for and against The Crown or any Ministry or Agency of the Government.

Importantly, its mandate includes the extensive oversight of the legislative agenda of the Government.

The Office of the Attorney General also provides administrative support for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and superintends all matters relating to the Electoral Office.

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Hon. Mr. Vincent Byron
Attorney General

Ms. Diana Francis
Permanent Secretary

(Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs)

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