The law of parsimony is defined as “the principle in philosophy and science that assumptions introduced to explain a thing must not be multiplied beyond necessity, and hence the simplest of several hypotheses is always the best in accounting for unexplained facts.” It’s also referred to as Occam’s razor. So, let us now see what comes up when the law of parsimony is applied to our beleaguered government’s most recent shot at mass distraction, its latest scapegoat being the director of public prosecutions Victoria Charles-Clarke.
Dear incredulous reader, already I can hear you asking: Why on God’s green earth did the unelected housing minister Senator Stanley Felix wait until last week to trigger off a string of events with the potential to blow the roof off the House of Kenny Anthony—to say nothing of the hand that feeds the shooter’s famously monumental ego? Or, Why didn’t the senator wait a few more days to unleash his barrage, considering the DPP is scheduled to go on 60-days pre-retirement leave next Wednesday?
Several possible answers spring to mind, among them: arrogance—the hermaphrodite parent of stupidity; a deviant conspiracy to render Victoria Charles-Clarke less than ready for prime-time politics (who knows who might invite her to join whose party perchance to wreak vengeance on her vindictive former employers?); revenge for past embarrassments; an uncontrollable need to color the enemy a darker shade of corrupt!
But enough speculation. Consider the following facts: some fifteen years ago, with the departure of DPP Naughton Jack, his deputy Victoria Charles was put reluctantly into service by the Kenny Anthony administration in its second term.
Why reluctantly? If only in the perception of the typically uninformed public, successful Saint Lucian lawyers do not normally fall over themselves in mad rushes to become underpaid, under-respected and despised attorneys general, directors of public prosecutions, crown counsels and so on. There is much more to be made standing up in court for arrogant above-the-law prime ministers in trouble—or prime ministers bent on making trouble for dissenting citizens. (Not that such plums usually end up in local pockets.)
The Kenny Anthony administration remains self-convinced Victoria Charles-Clarke has always been a die-hard supporter of the United Workers Party. This voodoo conclusion is rooted in the SLP conviction that John Compton was her godfather in the pawen sense, as well as in the sense of The Godfather.
It has also been bruited about for years that the late prime minister paid her tuition fees when Charles was a law student. In any event Kenny Anthony’s unflinching decision not to confirm Charles-Clarke in her office after five years certainly encouraged salted-to-taste suggestions that the DPP was less than competent or that she was never quite red enough for comfort.
That the not-exactly-angelic last Compton administration rushed in where devils feared to tread, that is to say that they had quickly confirmed the DPP’s position upon taking office in 2006, may well have proved, if only to suspicious en rouge minds, that all along their assessment of Victoria Charles-Clarke had been on the button.
There are, too, those who remain convinced her position was confirmed in the best interests of Richard Frederick, whom the SLP had declared during its election campaign “a frightening prospect . . . the worst thing to happen to local politics.”
It suits some to say, even today, that the DPP had jammed the SLP’s plan to lay under-invoicing and more serious related charges against Frederick once allegedly promised evidence had been received from the DEA. Some twelve years later that promise remains unfulfilled. As for the under-invoicing matter, suffice it to say Frederick had the last laugh.
Evidently it has never occurred to local politicians that a DPP in anyone’s pocket is a DPP destined soon to be banished to the bush. Yes, notwithstanding the apparent digression, we’re still wrestling with the reason Stanley Felix may have chosen to jump all over the DPP’s deceptively delicate bones.
Referring to a government-initiated report on the financial operations of town, village and rural councils “released two years ago,” and which centers on members of the previous administration already declared UWP candidates in the imminent general elections, Felix sneeringly addressed the DPP: “Your job does not just entail charging people arrested for small packets of drugs and those little things. That’s not what you’re there for. You are so quick to charge them but what about the big guys? What about them? What about the big guys when allegations and evidence have been uncovered about their improprieties . . . It is only fair that you do what is just and right in the interest of this country. Furthermore, if you cannot do that, I suggest you resign, retire and quit because you’re not serving the interest of this country.”
Rarely had free speech been more publicly abused by one unelected MP at the expense of another government official. After all, the Saint Lucia Constitution offers remedies for DPPs “not serving the interest of this country.”
The senator’s presumed soft target soon settled all suggestions that she might in her circumstances be a sitting duck for government ministers with imminent elections on their minds. She phoned Timothy Poleon’s lunch-hour Newsspin program to explain her ostensible incompetence, not to say disservice to the country.
In sum, she said the report to which the senator had referred was, bearing in mind its stated purpose, hardly worth the paper it was written on. That much, she reminded listeners, she had already revealed on an earlier occasion to Shelton Daniel over the government’s Radio Saint Lucia.
“I indicated at the time,” the relatively soft-spoken DPP informed Poleon, who initially had sided with Senator Felix’s expressed viewpoint, that “the town and village councils report is not evidence.”
Besides, she added, her office “does not investigate. If I receive a report, the investigating official, by which I mean the police, must conduct a thorough and proper investigation and then present my office with their file. Only then do I make a determination—based on what’s before me—whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute.”
Prodded by Poleon prospecting for further gems, the DPP expressed surprise over the senator’s scathing review of her work from his party’s main political platform. He was no ordinary Joe Blow, after all. By his own declaration from the steps of the Castries market he was “Stanley Felix, minister in the SLP government, resident of Castries Central, citizen of this country.” Which was why, conceivably, he considered himself well placed to demand the DPP throw in the towel, “in the public interest.” He had access; he had clout.
From the DPP’s perspective, there were less disrespectful ways open to the senator, also a lawyer, if he wished constructively to comment on the matters at hand.
The thinking citizen might also wonder why the minister—in the company of his red-garbed government colleagues—chose to launch his unbridled attack on the DPP from the Castries market steps, not from the Cabinet room.
To date the government has proffered no evidence whatsoever indicative of its concern for incessant public demands for news relating to the IMPACS report. Indeed, Felix had carefully sidestepped the particular subject, presumably in obedience to the prime minister’s televised declaration that he had instructed his Cabinet to speak not a word, not a word, not a word about those alleged “gross violations of human rights” and the kangaroo court that was the so-called IMPACS investigation.
Ah, but the DPP was no sidestepper. As reported last week by this newspaper, at a special press conference convened last Thursday, she acknowledged receipt of the IMPACS report in March this year, when she was busily engaged with the on again, off again long-pending murder trials of Eugene St Rose (13 years) and Jonathan St Rose (six years). There was also the problem of the high court building that had to be shut down for repairs and renovations. Additionally, there were hundreds of other cases to be made ready when the court got going again in September. It was only while on vacation that same month, the DPP revealed, that she was able to give her full attention to the IMPACS report.
Alas, it too, proved unworthy of the paper it was written on—not to mention its cost to taxpayers. The DPP revealed that the document had arrived at her desk in a manner most unconventional. As for its content, it “did not conform with the requirements of our laws.”
By her measure, the much-discussed IMPACS report on which so much depended, according to the prime minister’s speeches on the subject, “did not constitute evidence as is required under the Evidence Act.” It comprised opinions, commentary and recommendations and “some very serious allegations of infringements of some of the gravest and most serious offences under our Criminal Code.”
Moreover: having studied the document and laws relating to it, she had arrived at the conclusion that what had been presented to her was “not in accordance with the requirements of our laws.” She said she had written to the attorney general requesting “there be compliance with Section 3-7 of the Police Complaints Act, the amendment to which says: ‘Where in any investigation authorized by the minister, if it appears to the investigator that there is prima facie evidence of criminal conduct, he or she shall transmit to the director of public prosecutions all evidence, statements and other relevant materials arising from the investigation.’
“What I received was a report,” the DPP went on. “I did not receive statements. I did not receive other documents and a lot of the information referred to in the report was never submitted to me . . . There are other legal issues arising from the report that I cannot disclose but about which I have requested information from the attorney general.”
A now noticeably deflated Felix again took defensively to the airwaves, this time to remind listeners that he had not fired a single shot in the direction of IMPACS. His only target had been, he said, the town and village councils report.
Evidently the senator had never learned at law school when to leave well enough alone. His mind suicidally set on bringing “the big guys” to justice for their yet to be proved “improprieties” before Polling Day, he had inadvertently kicked open a political Pandora’s box wherein was his master’s biggest headache.
As for the law of parsimony, we may as well set it aside, if only for the time being. Let us now consider the basic nature of God’s justice. And it is this: “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”