By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
HOUSE Speaker Dr Kendal Major said yesterday that Jerome Fitzgerald may be held in contempt of the House of the Assembly if it is found that the private emails he read in Parliament from members of Save the Bays were obtained illegally.
While making several rulings in the House of Assembly, Dr Major said in the future, members who attempt to table unverified documents would not be allowed to do so unless they satisfy “the standard of authenticity and reliability.”
In the House of Assembly last month, Mr Fitzgerald, the Marathon MP, alleged that members of STB were engaged in a well-financed plot to destabilise the government, and he disclosed email messages about their activities, which he said substantiated his point. Those emails were later tabled in Parliament.
He has since maintained that he did not have “unauthorised” access to the emails but stressed that his actions were protected by parliamentary privilege. Mr Fitzgerald has also said that he got the private emails from his “political garbage can.”
“Additionally, the improper release of private and unreliable emails may violate the Computer Misuse Act and Data Protection Act,” Dr Major said.
“Particularly this violation is more likely when the source of the email is not verified. No doubt since the information was released in this privileged chamber, members are not subject to injunction in a court of law....
“Members there is a fine line between parliamentary privilege, our right of free speech and our duty to refrain from abuse of private citizens. We must accept our responsibilities and exercise restraint.”
Last Thursday, STB was granted an injunction restraining parliamentarians from further disclosing the group’s confidential information in Parliament.
The injunction was granted by Justice Indra Charles on Thursday and lasts until May 12. However, Dr Major expressed shock at the injunction yesterday and said the business of the House of Assembly would go on as usual. The Office of the Attorney General is expected to file a motion to have the injunction set aside.
Dr Major also ruled that two affidavits that Fort Charlotte MP Dr Andre Rollins attempted to file last month would not be tabled in the House for a number of reasons.
Dr Major said after he reviewed the documents in question for an extended period, he concluded that the source of the affidavits is “questionable and untested.” He also said the matters are still under police investigation and awaiting judicial determination.
On March 17, Dr Rollins challenged Dr Major’s decision at that time not to accept two affidavits he tabled the night before in reference to a controversy surrounding Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard and an alleged murder for hire plot.
Dr Rollins previously told the House of Assembly that one of the documents allegedly named Deputy Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis as someone who “coached two individuals who the government calls criminals.”
He also claimed he was tabling a “doctored” affidavit, as well as another document that was not redacted, which he said frequently mentioned Mr Davis.
On March 9, STB filed an affidavit which accused Mr Nygard of hiring two “gang members” to carry out crimes against his opponents. Mr Nygard has denied the allegations and has countersued.