The People’s National Movement (PNM) will not legally challenge the legitimacy of Barry Padarath’s candidacy in Princes Town.
PNM Political Leader Dr Keith Rowley confirmed that the party opted not to follow through on a legal challenge on the matter at a news conference at Balisier House yesterday.
“I as leader of the PNM have guided my party to a position that we will not engage in this exercise because it is not free, it is not cheap and it is not without risk,” he said.
He explained, that the United National Congress’ (UNC) election petition, staged in the wake of the 2015 election, helped inform his decision.
The UNC members had filed the petitions after the PNM won that election by a 23-18 margin.
Petitions were initially filed for six constituencies—La Horquetta/Talparo, Toco/Sangre Grande, Tunapuna, St Joseph, San Fernando West, and Moruga/Tableland but the petition for La Horquetta/Talparo was dismissed before the trial as it was served on the successful PNM candidate, Maxi Cuffie, after the required deadline.
The petition, which had been struck down in the High Court in 2016, was also struck out in the Appeal Court in February this year.
“That matter was dismissed in February 2020, so now that political party has costs because the matter was dismissed with costs,” he said.
“You may be interested to know that the PNM’s statement of costs for that four and a half years of litigation is $23 million and the EBC costs is approximately $14 million. These claims are to be adjudicated upon in the coming months for a final position to be determined by the courts, these are the claims and approximate claims for those excursions.”
However, Dr Rowley said the PNM had taken the necessary steps to pursue the case prior to this consideration, even consulting with some of the region’s top attorneys on the matter.
He revealed that the door was still open for any other body to pursue the case.
“That challenge is open to the PNM and any person or agency, but the PNM was pursuing the PNM’s interest in this matter and drew it to the attention of the authorities and the national community,” he said.
“I can tell you, that the advice I have got in writing from these legal luminaries have all confirmed that the nomination as prepared for the member of Parliament the UNC candidate in Princes Town, does not meet the requirements of the law and is wholly invalid. That is the opinion of the PNM,” he added.
He explained that should a less exhaustive method of pursuing the matter present itself, the case may be revisited.
“The question is now to be determined and I will ask the Attorney General to advise the country and to question the EBC as to whether this is not a matter for a determination by the court without the kind of exposure that I am steering the PNM away from,” said Dr Rowley.