The Jeff Cumberbatch – Constructive Opposition

It could scarcely be considered unfair or invalid to argue that the appointment of Bishop Joseph Atherley as the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in the Lower House of Parliament was not a universally popular one.

From those who considered that a literal interpretation of the Constitutional text does not accommodate an individual MP being appointed leader of the Opposition in the absence of a plurality of likeminded individuals; to some members of his own party who questioned his sudden volte-face after his successful electoral campaign on a BLP platform; and to others who saw themselves robbed of the likelihood of a voice during this iteration of parliament, given the stated intention of the Prime Minister; they all questioned the propriety and validity of his appointment.

To date, no one has sought to challenge the appointment in a court of law however, and while I myself had expressed in this space some equanimity as to how his contributions might be perceived, it now appears, if we are to judge from his contributions to the recent parliamentary debate on the Integrity in Public Life Bill 2018, as reported in the Barbados Advocate for last Thursday [p.9], that the goodly Bishop has settled firmly into his role as the effective conscience of the people in Parliament.

First, he questioned a perceived link between the political class and certain criminal elements that, even with the protection of absolute privilege, he does not appear to have named. His larger point here was made in the context of electoral campaign financing, which he suggested ought to be the subject matter of legislative enactment.

As to the Bill itself, Bishop Atherley is reported as querying the omission of judges from the list of “specified persons in public life” in the Second Schedule. The newspaper report does not indicate whether there was any ministerial response to this query but it was the subject matter of court action in Trinidad & Tobago in the case of the Integrity Commission v The AG of Trinidad & Tobago.

There, by an amendment in 2000, the then governing UNC administration had included judges as among persons in public life subject to the Act. However, after objection from the judges, the Integrity Commission sought a determination from the Court as to whether having regard to the provisions of the Constitution and the Integrity in Public Life Act, judges and magistrates were indeed persons in public life subject to the provisions of the Integrity in Public Life Act as amended.

Mme. Justice Jones, who heard the matter, thought that subjecting the judges to the provisions of the Act constituted an alteration of the terms of service of those Judges appointed before the Act came into effect; impermissibly sought to control the manner in which judges function in their office; and sought to discipline judges in their capacity as judges in a manner that was contrary to the constitutional provisions designed to ensure the independence of the judiciary. She concluded therefore-

In my view… the provisions of the Act which allow for action to be taken and punishment to be inflicted against a Judge for duties imposed in the capacity as Judge are inconsistent with …the Constitution.

Her Ladyship also found that the inclusion of magistrates ran counter to the need to maintain a level of independence necessary to ensure that Magistrates as members of the lower Judiciary were accorded the autonomy appropriate to their status as members of the Judiciary.

In this regard, she determined-

“…not only is the provision giving the Commission some disciplinary control over the Magistrates inconsistent with the Constitution but, given the statutory provisions establishing the Commission, an exercise of disciplinary control over Magistrates by the Commission would not provide the insulation acknowledged by the Constitution to be necessary to ensure that the independence provided to Magistrates as members of the Judicial arm of the State is not eroded.

It bears remarking that Barbados has expressly included magistrates in the copy of the Bill that I have seen on the Barbados Parliament website.

As an adjunct to his contribution on the Bill, Atherley also raised an issue that has been in the public domain since it was recognized that the patently dissuasive monetary penalties proposed in the original public draft of the Act had been substantially reduced (from between $250 000 on summary conviction and $500 000 on conviction on indictment to between $10 000 and $20 000 respectively.

The official responses to this query do not appear to have been particularly cogent. According to another section of the printed press, the Honourable Attorney General is quoted as averring that the figures will “revert” to those originally promised. He did not consider that an explanation for the alteration was warranted or mattered at this point-

“There is an explanation for why the fines came down and it has nothing to with political will, but at this point I don’t think any explanation matters.”

Another member of the Cabinet offered an explanation in yet another section of the press. According to the Honourable Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Mr Wifred Abrahams, in Barbados Today, “…the changes were made by the parliamentary draftsperson responsible for preparing the Bill for presentation in the two houses of Parliament with a view to ensuring that the fines were consistent with other domestic penalties…those fines were changed without reference to the drafting Committee or to the Attorney General…”

This is, by itself, a surprising revelation. I have always been informed that the draftsperson is a mere amanuensis or scribe of the legislative intendment of the policymakers rather than a determinant of such policy. And while I could understand a drafter pointing out a patent inconsistency with a constitutional requirement, this is not alleged by Mr Abrahams. Indeed, the sole requirement of the supreme law in respect of punishment that might impinge on the current debate is that in section 15(1) to the effect that

No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment.

This clearly does not apply here without more.

Comparatively, in Trinidad & Tobago, for failing to make the required declaration or for making a false declaration, a person in public life is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and to imprisonment for a term of ten years; and where the offence involves the deliberate non-disclosure of property the Court may, in addition,

(a) where the property involved is situated in Trinidad and Tobago, declare that it be forfeited to the State;

(b) where the property involved is situated outside of Trinidad and Tobago, order that an amount equivalent to the value of the property (the value to be assessed as directed by the Court), be paid by the person in public life to the State.

Now, that is dissuasive punishment and for non-disclosure merely besides.

42 comments

  • Enuff
    over to you.

    Like

  • For Enuff, Messrs Marshall, Abrahams and our esteemed PM (who loves to reference a reggae song) the song of the day is “Who the cap fit” by the iconic Bob Marley.

    Like

  • Ping Pong

    Be clearer.

    Like

  • Enuff

    of course I am having a little fun at your expense but I am still not sure whether the proposed fines are to be the higher or the lower amounts. Forgive me if I am also cynical about the sincerity of the politicians to enact proscriptions to their possible bad behaviour. Blame it on 10 years of DLP rule.

    Like

  • Jeff Cumberbatch

    Excellent article and food for thought.

    I believe Judges and certain categories of public servants,e.g. custom officers,town planning officers,immigration officers etc should also be included.

    I am of the view that the declaration of assets by these politicians and civil servants should be done on an annual basis and not the 5 year period suggested for members of parliament.

    What say you?

    Like

  • A question to ponder how do we deal with police officers who we know are being bribed by persons in the business sector,those in the criminal world and even a few politicians.

    Bribes come in all forms.

    Like

  • Well Well & Cut N' Paste At Your Service

    Obviously Jeff’s article superceded the news, they can’t challenge Atherley’s actions anymore…all they can do is stew in their own juices.

    “There’s no going back to the fold of the Barbados Labour Party Government for Bishop Joseph Atherley after he shockingly exited to become Leader of the Opposition a week after the May 24 General .”

    Like

  • It’s always pleasing to see academics educating the masses and not to use the cop out of having a mortgage as the reason to be an academic traitor. UWI, needs to do more than just spit out lots of qualifications while sucking on the sore nipples of governments. Its time UWI spend 50 to 60% of its focus on an innovation ethos towards national fx earnings.

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  • Even de Roti Man got Reverend Joe’s Bona Fides down pat while big able people wasting time trying to figure out ways of legitimizing him!!

    Discernment.

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  • Its time UWI spend 50 to 60% of its focus on an innovation ethos towards national fx earnings.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    How much of the resources are spent in STEM?

    No point spitting out social scientists and lawyers!!

    We got more than enough!!

    Like

  • System is Broken

    @ T. Innis

    A question to ponder how do we deal with police officers who we know are being bribed by persons in the business sector,those in the criminal world and even a few politicians.

    Bribes come in all forms.

    SPOT ON.

    Like

  • @Jeff

    If you are about please update us on the change of the guard at the FSC? Was this a routine change hitched to the change in government? Were you asked to accept another term? Who else joins the esteem professor as members of the Commission?

    Like

  • @ David, ” change of the guard at the FSC ” ?

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  • Hants,

    Plse spell out what you mean.

    Like

  • No less than the current newly coronated PM ,The Right Honorable Mia Mottley Amor has in recent times described the goodly bishop and now Opposition Leader as the conscience of the BLP.
    The turn of events however with Bishop Joe’s appointment, however unfair or invalid according to your initial discourse, is indeed a development that will continue to intrigue and titillate the political arena for sometime to come.
    The whole question and discussion of legislation surrounding integrity in public life and campaign financing of political parties are some matters which the then candidate Joe while caretaker representative of St Michael West has been strident in his pronouncements for serious action and careful scrutiny of such integral aspects of public discourse; as he often posited that failure to do such were the most serious threats in undermining our democracy.
    His position now as chairman of the public accounts committee gives further opportunity to act decisively in helping to create an environment in public life where prudent and judicious type action surrounds how the disbursement and efficient use of public finances are stewarded and accounted for.
    The notion of the “old boys and girls club ” being insulated and protected by a few of their own kind must now be obliterated.
    This man has indeed put his integrity on the line.
    We continue to observe the unfolding of this unprecedented scenario with the hope that honesty and integrity in public life will not be praticed because of some group of politicians while thumping their chests and breast declaring we are better than the rest;
    But because serving the country and people’s interests will be put over personal aggrandizement and narrow partisan interest.
    Wishing the Bishop success in his crusade.

    Like

  • Jeff Cumberbatch

    *@Jeff

    If you are about please update us on the change of the guard at the FSC? Was this a routine change hitched to the change in government? Were you asked to accept another term? Who else joins the esteem professor as members of the Commission?

    David, I learnt last week that i have not been retained as Chairman of the FTC. On the swearing in and assumption of office of the new Minister, i had placed my appointment at his disposal as is traditional.

    I am not aware of the identities of the membership of the new Board at this stage.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Jeff Cumberbatch

    A question to ponder how do we deal with police officers who we know are being bribed by persons in the business sector,those in the criminal world and even a few politicians.

    Bribes come in all forms

    @T.Inniss, .The Act does not purport to change existing law. Bribery is still an offense at Common Law.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @Jeff

    It is their loss or should it be lost…lol.

    Like

  • Removing Jeff Cumberbatch from the chairmanship of one of our key regulators is rather unfortunate; let us see who replaces him for a cast-iron indication of the government’s intent. Maybe Mr Adams, with the ‘impressive record on finance’, will be appointed.
    I am convinced that the omens are not good for this government; I can see the early stages of an autocracy. There will be tears at bed time.

    Like

  • What about the FSC Jeff?

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  • Jeff Cumberbatch

    @Jeff

    ^It is their loss or should it be lost…lol*

    Heheheheheh, David. Oh shirt!

    What about the FSC Jeff?

    No official news as yet there but I suspect that I am off there too.

    Like

  • pieceuhderockyeahright

    I really do not like driving and typing

    De peripheral vision does mek me belly turn.

    @ the Luminary Jeff Cumberbatch

    You are no person’s boy and cannot be bought so I am pretty sure that with the upcoming moves and mergers and monopolies you had to be removed.

    The BLP does not know how to read you neither did the DLP but the latter is no more.

    You are a threat to the BLP and therefore you must be silenced.

    What is fortunate is that that which you are locked in to, and which YOU SHALL ACHIEVE, IS NOT PREDICATED ON BY THEIR DISPOSITION.

    YOU SAID A FEW THINGS that will inform a few of us who “see” with eyes that discern.

    “… To date, no one has sought to challenge the appointment in a court of law however…”

    “However” is a peculiar adverb that one teacher told us was a juxtaposition which indicated a state of mind and judging from the preceding sentence on plurality and its tag…I will not finish that sentence.

    You later said and I quote “…that the goodly Bishop has settled firmly into his role as the effective conscience of the people in Parliament…”

    I absolutely disagree with that word “effective” as it relates to Atherley and call him a postures who insults the Robes and my Lord.

    And I will use your words to explain why.

    You said and I quote “…First, he questioned a perceived link between the political class and certain criminal elements that, even with the protection of absolute privilege, he does not appear to have named…”

    What is the Bishop’s fear?

    The “absolute privilege” that Joseph Atherley is accorded IF HE WERE TRULY A MAN IF GOD, and not one looking at Santia’s posterior while campaigning?, comes from Jehovah Jireh, Adonai and does not answer to Bounty.

    If Bishop Joseph Atherley were convicted of the Faith of My GOD, there is no man woman or beast he should fear

    But he is the titular representative of Mottley AND THEREFORE HE WILL NOT PRESENT ANY REAL BACKBONE IN HIS REMONSTRATIONS BEYOND WHAT SHE INSTRUCTS HIM ON.

    The farce ghat the poorly hatched Integrity Legislation represents would have elicited a much more empassioned response with meaningful objections but you dun know my stance on this 1933 Enabling Act

    With regard to your word “insulation I shall teif said word to ask you a question.

    I VERILY believe that you have read the Act yes?

    Do you have any concerns THAT YOU WOULD BE KIND ENOUGH TO SHARE, regarding the ineptitude sorry that is an emotive word and I retract it.

    Regarding the current provisions where the Commissioners who are appointed by the PM and her surrogate SORRY her opponent The Leader of the Opposition, and the GG, being custodians of the declarations of public servants?

    Do you think that such a mechanism provides adequate “INSULATION”?

    Then you said and I quote “…The official responses to this query do not appear to have been particularly cogent…”

    It caused me an ole man to go to the dictionary for the definition of that word where I found “…convincing or believable by virtue of forcible, clear, or incisive presentation; telling…”

    Now here is an observation that I would make Oh Luminary.

    There are two Mugabe-ites who have been assaulting de ole man for even hinting that Dale Teets Marshall scion to The Madamoiselle herself could be anything but brilliant SINCE MOTTLEY APPOINTED HIM.

    Now dis is precisely what de ole man has been speaking about when I say privilege of ascension cause dem woulda catspraddle de ole man ef I had called him a badword liar and went on to say that all six of them are badword liars.

    But de ole man learn something today. I ent to call dem liars. I is to call dem “COGHVNTS” which rhymes wid dat udder badword dat i ent gine use heah out of my respect for you which Enuff of Lorenzo duo will say is boot licking Heheheheh

    Like

  • pieceuhderockyeahright

    @the Honourable Blogmaster your assistance please with a recent submission to the Luminary Jeff Cumberbatch thank you

    Like

  • Bernard Codrington

    @ Jeff

    BOD membership

    It is the usual practice /convention not to renew appointees of previous ministers \Administration. I am sure that you are satisfied with your stewardship. The country as a whole benefited from your sterling contribution, if I may say so.

    I am sure there are other endeavours that will benefit from your considerable skills and intellect.

    Like

  • pieceuhderockyeahright

    2 hours and I tired

    Sun still up and ting.

    Nuff traffic.

    Dont know if it was the coverage by the mobile provider but I didn’t get to see all of the stream

    Some things she said are truly amazing

    The Power of Recall

    Maximum 2 terms

    Employing Referenda

    Community Service instead of custodial for specific crimes

    Looka I hope she stays true to most of the fluff cause den I may gots to join Enuff of Lorenzo duo and sing in dat choir.

    Hope springs eternal.

    @ the Honourable Blogmaster your assistance please with that item for the Luminary Jeff Cumberbatch

    Like

  • Interesting comment from the PM when she refuted the suggestion that she has a large frontbench because she wants to quell uprising on the backbench. She retorted words to the effect, we can lose a few.

    Interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Well Well & Cut N' Paste At Your Service

    She might have to fire a few when they slip into their old nasty corrupt ways because that is all they know….the only way they can function….and they will drag her down.

    Like

  • @ David re the PM’s ” we can lose a few “.

    That could be interpreted to mean the PM is comfortable with the power a 30-0 victory has given her.

    It is what I would call a veiled threat to the 30.

    Like

  • Persaud to chair the FSC. Does this mean there will be an investigation in to the Four Seasons debacle? Does it mean that there will be a judicial review in to the Clico and Barbados Mutual? Does it mean that Mr Persaud will now declare his Barbados and UK assets? Do Barbadians have confidence in Mr Persaud chairing the FSC?

    Liked by 1 person

  • The FSC and FTC are two different agencies.

    Like

  • What is the point?

    Liked by 1 person

  • Hal all the tea leaves are revealing that this govt is all about a freinds an family affair and the middle class would have to bear the burden
    Notice how those in top tier are already rich which means that there will be less concerned of economic management that would favour the poor but safe guarding the rich people wealth

    Like

  • Mariposa,

    There is already a stench. By making Persaud chairman of the FSC runs the risk of a conflict of interest if he is also to advise on non-banking finance. I am also told the FSC was his idea. There will be tears before bedtime.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Yes the deckn has been stack against the poor
    It all started when Mia push the default button after which she lined the pockets of the rich all ofvwhich are made up of consultants and economic experts whose wisdom and knoweldge flows across large countries who have a greater productivity value than barbados
    In my mind barbados would be in for a rude awakening

    Like

  • pieceuhderockyeahright

    @ the Honourable Blogmaster

    The point that Mr Austin is making is that the FSC is a SOE is it not?

    And is he also governed by the same watery integrity Legislation regime rules

    Like

  • “Do Barbadians have confidence in Mr Persaud chairing the FSC?”

    I am taking a liking to him being there since the insurance companies don’t seem to like the idea of him being Chairman..or is it they don’t like him..lol….he just might do his job..

    Like

  • Piece,

    No, I am not. The FSC is, or should be, an independent financial regulator.

    Like

  • Now what more could go wrong…they had Frank Alleyne there at FSC for years and what happened..he got the IMF to commission a report and it showed up the incompetence and inefficiency of that agency as it related to regulating insurance companies, we can guarantee it was also because of political interference from corrupt government ministers……does Mia real want her legacy to be the same as the exgovernment, I think not.

    It is a show well worth watching.

    Like

  • To be fair to the FSC the IMF team was invited by them to submit the report as an institutional strengthening exercise. The blogmaster sees it as a positive in light of the catastrophic regulatory failures we have witnessed in the industry.

    Liked by 1 person

  • A strengthening exercise, well needed, but did it work, did anything change..

    Like

  • pieceuhderockyeahright

    @ The Luminary Jeff Cumberbatch

    Given the mist recent remarks of the Leader of the Opposition in the Newspapers does such illy advised statement adversely affect the status of the Bishop Reverend Father Joseph Atherley?

    Like

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