Spencer describes Benjamin’s court date as ‘interesting’

Leader of the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) Baldwin Spencer. (OBSERVER media)

Leader of the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) Baldwin Spencer. (OBSERVER media)

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Now that a date has been set for the forgery case of MP Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin, former Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer is again protesting his appointment as attorney general.

Spencer said his opposition to the appointment, on June 13, is based on a “conflict of interest” issue since Benjamin has responsibility for police, prison, the magistracy and legal affairs.

“This is a matter that ought to be taken seriously and if justice is not done, I don’t think this matter should be allowed to rest. This is a very serious matter which strikes at the heart of our democracy and court system and whether or not the courts are there to protect and safeguard the interest of all people,” Spencer said.

The leader of the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP), who first wrote to Prime Minister Gaston Browne on the matter in late June, yesterday said he was yet to receive a response.

“It was extremely poor judgment on the part of the prime minister to have done that. But I believe that was deliberate, a sort of in you face situation, knowing fully well this matter is outstanding,” Spencer said.

Benjamin’s case has been pending in the magistrates’ court for six years while his challenge to the charges were being heard in the three superior courts – the High Court, then Court of Appeal and finally the Privy Council.

In April, the decision of the Privy Council paved the way for the prosecution to proceed after the Law Lords ruled that Benjamin was wrong in his argument the police ought not to have charged him because the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had advised them to wait.

Since the ruling three months ago, several individuals had been asking what had become of Benjamin’s case, since there was no word of a trial date.

Reacting to the news that October 1 is the date for a hearing, Spencer said, “It is a very interesting situation developing in this matter, at least to hear that the matter is coming up in court, is something. This is a public interest matter, so I would hope that the public would avail themselves of the opportunity of going and getting a sense of what is happening.”

 

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12 thoughts on “Spencer describes Benjamin’s court date as ‘interesting’

  1. This is not about political parties. The law was broken by someone who should have known (EDITOR’S NOTE: WHILE THE LAW WAS BROKEN – OTHERS HAVE SERVED TIME – THE COURTS ALONE CAN DECIDE WHETHER MR. BENJAMIN BROKE THE LAW.) After all, this man Benjamin is a lawyer. In my opinion he knew what the heck he was doing. If any ordinary citizen of Antigua and Barbuda did the same thing. He/she would have been sent to 1735. In the State in which I am living politicians are sent to Federal Prison for breaking the laws of the land. They are not above the law. The law has to be applied evenly regardless of status.

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  2. @ my way of helping August 1, 2014 at 13:32 - Reply

    “…when someone brings you what you deem to be valid identification proving who you are, you act in good-faith to notarize their documents and take a record of what documents were presented as evidence”.

    Mr. Benjamin was supposed to compare the photograph being presented for notarisation to the person standing before him, whom he would also in the process verify that he has known for the stated number of years! It’s not supposed to be a third party activity!

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    • Interesting defence August 2, 2014 at 00:25 - Reply

      If the notaries public are acting in good faith rather than with the diligence they are supposed to when verifying people’s identities, why should the general public spend the money for notarization and why should anyone, business, or country, or authority trust the work they do?

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  3. my way of helping August 1, 2014 at 11:59 - Reply

    Even I know the Cutie Benjamin will be dismissed and he may have been charged only because of his affiliation with being an ALP candidate. I do believe for the sake of the public, his appointment to that office should have been put on hold until after the decision.

    I say this but will also say, in a matter like that, when someone bring you what you deem to be valid identification proving who you are, you act in good-faith to notarize their documents and take a record of what documents was presented as evidence.

    Also remember the country does not have or did not have valid IDs. So, to charge cutie without any kind of substantial, extreme, compelling evidence means this was more political than legal (doing the right thing). Show me there was compelling evidence other than someone sign a document saying someone is someone they weren’t.

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    -12Controversial!

    • my way of helping, in a way I have thoughts inline with you. Can he handle this matter and still function properly? Will it be a distraction? These are questions the minister needs to ask himself. There is also the perceived issue, in some quarters, of conflict of interest. On the other hand, knowing the way the police have handled matters in the past, this case could have many adjournments. Instead of this matter taking a couple of months it may end up taking years and then most likely end with Benjamin still being innocent. Would it help the country to lose his talents for years especially since he is innocent until proven guilty? Is it also fair to him? There was a similar (not the same) case involving Dr. Errol Cort where there were law suits against him for his dealings in the Stanford matter. The man who reported to him is still wanted by the US government. The same minister has had a track record of having judges finding him guilty of abusing his office when in a conflict of interest situation (eg. MBS). I don’t recall MP Spencer even asking or suggesting that Cort should resign, even though keeping him in office made it look as if the then government was involved in the alleged crime. The decision to keep him may have done our offshore sector more harm since some viewed it as UPP headed government’s complicity in the Stanford matter.

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  4. Spencer perhaps you should take the time to know the roles of the minister. He only has power to give general directions ie set policy. The Chief of police has Independence. The Courts have upheld this time after time. Why did MP Spencer not resign after courts on more than one occasion, ruled he abused his power and acted out of spite? Instead, he waited, for over a year for the electorate to fire him

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  5. MP Spencer, We want a forensic audit, of Our Treasury’s Monies for the last 10 Years,
    you had all that time, and could not even bring enough charges, to a corrupt ALP Government Members, when there was more than enough evidence, to prosecute several of there members. While, your administration was on the forefront of MP Benjamin’s Case, it was the duty, of the Judiciary System, which must remain non- Political, to make sure that this case went forward.
    It was PM’s Browne decision along with his other team Members, everything may not rhyme but, it has a reason. It’s a great day for Our Democracy, and an even greater one can be hailed, once We get to know, where the monies for the last ten years go?

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  6. After they’ve finished with Cutie, you Mr Spencer need to be brought before the courts for the WPP matter. We haven’t forgotten

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  7. It is clear to me that the Prime Minister was illy advised when he appointed Mr. Benjamin as AG. It is my opinion that the PM should ask for Mr. Benjamin’s resignation, find a suitable replacement and get on with the governance of the country.

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  8. To the Honourable Mr Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda

    Please distance yourself from this matter and allow the judicial process in the matter of Mr Benjamin to proceed as it must. All the lawyer talk and legal gobble-de-gook must not be allowed to usurp the rule of law. Mr Benjamin must be allowed his day in court. Mr Benjamin is presumed to be innocent but it is up to the courts of Antigua and Barbuda to decide if a crime has, in fact, taken place and no amount of legal posturing and maneuvering can change that fact. Antigua and Barbuda is a democracy with ONE system of law for all and I have enough faith in the judges of this land to believe that Mr Benjamin will receive a fair trial. The twists and turns in this matter thus far almost suggest that whether a crime has been committed has become irrelevant.

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    • Benjamin is going to win the case, sir, so what is all the fuss. The UPP cants are to blame for all this charade and a waste of funds to try such cases. Nuff said

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