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Posted: Monday 27 August, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Brantley wins Election Petition Appeal

Brantley celebrates victory with supporters
By: Terresa McCall,

    Hensley Daniel's election to Office null and void


    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – THE people of Nevis are now waiting with baited breath to find out what the next step for their island would be, now that the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court has ruled that the election of Hensley Daniel – Deputy Premier of the Nevis Island Administration – is null and void.


    Before the Justices of Appeal could finish presenting their judgment in the Nevis Election Petition Appeal case, shouts of jubilation erupted outside the courtroom where Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) supporters had congregated, for news had already reached them that Mark Brantley – Deputy Leader of the CCM - hadwon his appeal


    Following the July 2011 Local Elections in Nevis – during which the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) won three seats against the CCM winning two – an election petition was launched by Brantley who claimed that his opponent had won by the illegal removal of 203 names from the Voters’ List in the St. John’s Constituency. 


    Brantley had lost his seat to Daniel by a mere 14 votes.


    He also claimed that his constitutional right to freedom of expression was breached when he was denied access to the Nevis Newscast for coverage of his party’s events.


    At the Nevis Circuit Court, Justice Lionel Jones agreed with Brantley and ruled that his right to freedom of expression was breached and the election of Daniel was null and void.


    Premier Joseph Parry and Daniel appealed the court’s decision and, in delivering his judgment today via teleconference at the Nevis Circuit Court, Justice of Appeal (Ag) Don Mitchell - supported by Justice of Appeal Davidson Baptiste and Chief Justice (Ag) Janice Pereira - dismissed Daniel’s appeal and upheld the decision of the lower court.


    The appellate court held that “Mr. Daniel was not validly elected or returned for that electoral district” on the grounds that “the appellants failed to act in accordance with the principles laid down in the law and acted improperly and unlawfully, and, as a result, the election was not substantially conducted in accordance with the law and the irregularities affected the result of the election”.


    Additionally, the Justices of Appeal agreed with Justice Jones that Brantley’s constitutionally-enshrined right to freedom of expression “and his right not be treated in a discriminatory manner by reason of his political opinions have been contravened by the failure of the Nevis Island Administration on its nightly Nevis News Cast to cover any of the political events organised by Mr. Brantley’s political party during the campaign leading up to the election of 11th July 2011”.


    Brantley challenged Justice Jones’ ruling that the 203 names which were removed from the Voters’ List were not to be restored thereto and the JAs ruled that the trial judge erred in not granting restoration of the names and they therefore allowed Brantley’s appeal.


    The appellate court ruled that there is much evidence that points to wide disenfranchisement of voters and that the Registration Officer, Bernadette Lawrence, acted in bad faith and bias for the benefit of the NRP.


    Parry, Daniel, Lawrence, Supervisor of Elections Pastor Leroy Benjamin – jointly and severally - have been ordered by the court to pay Brantley’s costs at the High Court level. If an amount is not agreed upon within 21 days, an assessment would be carried out.


    The Justices of Appeal also ordered that the four pay Brantley’s appeal costs assessed at two-thirds of the high court amount.


    The effect of the Appellate Court’s is that four of the five seats in Nevis are filled and one vacant. Two of the seats are occupied by the ruling party, the NRP and the other two by the CCM.


    As it stands, is it not clear whether Nevisians would either go back to the polls in a by-election or a local election.


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