Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says he is not prepared to expose the People’s National Movement (PNM) to high legal costs in contesting the validity of the nomination papers of Princes Town MP Barry Padarath.
Instead, Rowley said legal advice obtained by the PNM will be given to the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC), which can then provide it to its own lawyers and decide on its position.
Rowley said he will also advise President Paula-Mae Weekes on the matter.
He said the law must be settled as to whether a Member of Parliament is sitting there while having not been properly nominated.
In an immediate response yesterday, Padarath told the Express he was ready for court.
“Bring it on! If his lawyers said he has a good case and he is so disturbed, then take it to court or shut up. As they say—put up or shut up,” he said via WhatsApp.
Speaking at a news conference at Balisier House in Port of Spain yesterday, Rowley said he sought and obtained “very solid” legal advice from two eminent senior counsel.
He said their advice confirmed that Padarath’s nomination as prepared “does not meet the requirements of the law and is wholly invalid”.
“I will provide the opinion that I have to the Elections and Boundaries Commission so that they can provide their opinion. If an individual was not forthcoming on their position to the officer...that is a matter for the EBC. I think the country needs to know that,” said Rowley.
He said as PNM leader, he guided his party in the decision that “we will not engage in this exercise because it is not free, it is not cheap and it is not without risk”.
He reminded that in 2015, the United National Congress (UNC) decided to file election petitions taking issue with the election results in some seats.
This matter, he said, was dismissed in February 2020, with costs to be paid by the UNC.
“The PNM’s statement of cost for that four-and-a-half-years of litigation is $23 million and the EBC’s cost is approximately $14 million, these claims are to be adjudicated upon in the court in the coming months, for a final position to be determined by the courts,” he said, adding: “I am not prepared to expose the PNM to this situation so as to make a point.”