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Astaphan Points to Alleged Conflict of Interest for Registrar's replacement

Basseterre High Court

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN):  The official who has replaced High Court Registrar Janine Harris Lake in an acting capacity has a clear conflict of interest, according to former government minister Dwyer Astaphan.

Registrar Harris-Lake was this week sent on immediate vacation leave, with no official reason given for that decision by the government.

She was not in court on Tuesday for the start of the Criminal Assizes in Basseterre.

Contacted for comment Tuesday, an official from the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs told WINN FM that Mrs. Harris-Lake was asked to proceed on leave, and questions about the matter should be directed to Minister of Justice Patrice Nisbett (who is out of state at the moment).

Dwyer Astaphan on his Operation Rescue radio programme Tuesday, questioned the method in which a replacement had been put in place, and also suggested that there was a clear conflict of interest.

Dwyer Astaphan“Because I do not believe Ms Tashma Powell Williams is properly appointed to act,”   Astaphan said.

He pointed out that she is “also the secretary to the Constituency  Boundaries Commission, (and) provides legal advice to the Public Service Commission.”

The former government minister noted that the PSC is one of the players which might have to deal with the Janine Harris-Lake matter.  The Boundaries Commission meanwhile, is a respondent in a case set to get underway on Friday, and a claimant in a application to strike the same matter.

“This thing has deep and broad implications not just for the people involved, but for good governance for our judicial system,” he argued.

According to Astaphan “certain individuals want to interfere with the judicial system” a clear reference to the Denzil Douglas administration. 

Operation Rescue’s Astaphan is contending that the move against Janine Harris Lake has left many questions unanswered.

“Has she been singled out for punishment; is the fact that Timothy Harris is her brother relevant to the treatment that she is getting,” Astaphan queried.

Dr Harris, a former senior government minister in the Douglas administration, now has his own People’s Labour Party.

The PLP is one of three opposition parties  collaborating in a unity partnership arrangement they hope will defeat the governing Labour Party at elections expected to be held in the near future.

Opposition politicians including Eugene Hamilton, Deputy Leader of the People’s Action Movement,  are accusing the government of interfering with the judiciary.

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