Beware Proverbs 19:5

Attorney General Rudolph 'Doddy' Francis.

It’s a theme regularly plugged into by country and R&B singers, from Barbara Mandrell, Percy Sledge, Isaac Hayes and Bobby Bland to Ramsey Lewis, Luther Ingram, Cassandra Wilson, Millie Jackson and Tom Jones. Even the reggae singer Alton Ellis was not above subscribing to the self-serving notion that if adultery feels right it can’t be wrong.
Consider the following by songwriters Homer Banks, Carl Hampton and Raymond Jackson: If loving you is wrong I don’t wanna be right/If being right means being without you I’d rather live a wrong-doing life/Your mama and daddy say it’s a shame/It’s a downright disgrace/Long as I got you by my side/I don’t care what your people say.
Elvis, for his part, nails the point: “Baby if it feels so right, how can it be wrong?”
I knew not whether to laugh or cry on Wednesday when the Labour Party’s demanding town crier was permitted to read aloud over Radio Caribbean a press release that a Pilate-like Timothy Poleon had by his own admission earlier set aside because he felt a little queasy about its content. The SLP’s latest gripe centered on a February 1 House session, in the course of which the attorney general allegedly claimed he had consulted on a particular bill with the insurance council, the Inner Bar and the St. Lucia Bar Association—a “blatant lie,” according to the public relations man, who then went on to quote denials by representatives of the named organizations, doubtless as indisputable evidence of his own veracity. Moreover, he took the opportunity to announce his party’s intention to place before parliament a motion demanding that the House of Assembly “censures . . . and condemns” the attorney general for bringing his office “into dishonor and disrepute.”
Considering Claudius Francis is a high priest of the earlier-mentioned council, with umbilical connections to all things legal in Saint Lucia, not to mention he is a former vice chairman and an unwavering point man and defender of the St Lucia Labour Party, it seemed to me that only the worst of fools would attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of his House colleagues by claiming he had consulted with the mentioned bodies when in truth he had not. Then again, presuming the SLP’s PR man spoke nothing but the truth, the following questions may be appropriate: Did it seem to the AG in his circumstances that misleading parliament, though despicable (wrong!) was the convenient (right?) thing to do? What would lead the attorney general to imagine he could get away with statements so easily exposed as lies?
Well, for one thing, House history as recorded in Hansard, with particular reference to the leader of the opposition when he was prime minister. Which is not to say he is wrong to seek punitive action against a prevaricating MP or Senator who seeks to mislead the House. Indeed, the opposition leader deserves resounding applause for his latest attempt at restoring the long lost dignity of the House, in much the same way he had sought to right the wrongs of the Tuxedo affair via a court of law. Even so I can’t help thinking about the Clean Hands Doctrine, a rule of law that someone bringing a lawsuit or motion and asking the court for equitable relief must be innocent of wrongdoing or unfair conduct relating to the subject matter of his or her claim. If the attorney general is deserving of House censure for misleading the House, then what of the MP for Vieux Fort South who, during his time as prime minister, leveled at another parliamentarian the accusation that she had permitted at Victoria Hospital the illegal abortion of over 300 pregnancies, as it turned out, a false accusation. What about the same MP’s vigorous assertion in a House Resolution presented on 17 December 2002 that the government needed to borrow stated millions of dollars for the purpose of “refinancing obligations in respect of the former Hyatt Hotel?” As later uncovered by the Ramsahoye commission of inquiry, the government was never obligated to the hotel that in any event had already been sold into bankruptcy six months before the 17 December 2002 resolution. Did someone mislead parliament? The three-man opposition at the time certainly thought so.
Then there was the recorded occasion when Prime Minister Kenny Anthony assured the House that a bed-ridden Louis George, then leader and sole member of the opposition, had endorsed a 4-million-dollar loan guarantee for a bankrupt airline, owners of which were well known campaigners for the prime minister’s party. George later denied he had ever supported the guarantee. Was there ever an apology? An acknowledgment of the truth, perhaps? On both counts, no. Was someone then deserving of censure for misleading the House?
Kenny Anthony, had once not only assured the House that a statement attributed to him by Sarah Flood-Beaubrun was “a fabrication of the opposition and media,” that he “never said any such thing,” but he had also insisted the House Speaker demand an apology from the then Central Castries MP, failing which she risked eviction. HTS later released a videotape of the clearly frustrated Vieux-Fort South MP and prime minister appealing to criminals in his constituency to “give the people a break for Christmas,” precisely as the Central Castries MP had asserted and, in the absence of immediate evidence, apologized for under duress.
Let it also be said that Hansard holds ample proof that Kenny Anthony was not the first prime minister of Saint Lucia to mislead the people via statements in parliament. In any event, I repeat: he did the right thing when he challenged in court a cabinet decision to grant concessions to an undeserving MP and again he is more than justified and deserving of praise for his latest move against an attorney who his party claims lied to and misled the House. Oh, but it would have been so much better had the related motion been presented by someone with absolutely clean hands, with no record of his ever having misled parliament, in which case there would’ve been no suggestion of vindictiveness or the pot calling the kettle black.
But having said all of that, if it turns out that the allegations against him are valid, that he lied in parliament, then the attorney general deserves all he gets, including the loss of his job and the opportunity to contest the next general elections. For if the people cannot trust the word of the nation’s attorney general, whose word can we trust?
Conversely, if his accusers should themselves turn out to be liars . . .

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