St Joseph MP Herbert Volney will formally vacate the seat on Monday without any legal challenge to House Speaker Wade Mark declaration of his seat vacant last week Monday, clearing the way for a by-election in early December. Volney walked out of Parliament after Mark declared the seat be vacated on September 9, following his decision to resign as a member of the United National Congress. He had 14 days from then to challenge the Speaker's decision.
He had initially stated he would commence legal action against the Speaker but has now decided against such action because he had no intention of playing any role again in electoral politics. A release yesterday by the constituency office manager, Mark Dolsingh, said the seat "will accordingly be vacated on Monday September 23, 2013, a day of infamy for the democratic way of life of the people of Trinidad and Tobago."
Dolsingh said Volney maintained his disagreement with the Speaker's ruling. He said Volney sought and obtained the advice of Senior Counsel who have offered the opinion that there was a strong justiciable cause against the Speaker of the House of Representatives to challenge and upset his ruling. The release said: "This is a matter of great constitutional importance.
The action of the Prime Minister and the Speaker has upset the legitimate election and tenure of the Member of Parliament for St Joseph other than by the popular expression of the will of the people." It added it was not Volney's responsibility to correct the ruling, "given his desire not to continue in electoral politics." It said that was "a cause for civil society and the law bodies to take up."
Dolsingh said Mark's ruling "not only effectively unseats an elected member but serves to discriminate in its outreach against members with a leader of a party in the House of Representatives and members without such a leader in the House of Representatives."
The statement confirmed that Volney no longer wanted to "oblige litigation in the High Court for several reasons, including the high cost of litigation, the perpetuation of State-sponsored political ridicule and harassment by supporters of the Government and the absence of access to the appellate jurisdiction of the Privy Council or the Caribbean Court of Justice."
According to Dolsingh, Volney was grateful to constituents of St Joseph "for their support and joins prayerfully for the election of a worthy successor." Volney, a former High Court judge, was elected MP for St Joseph on May 24, 2010 and was appointed Justice Minister.
He was sacked last year after the Prime Minister said he misled the Cabinet about his consultation with Chief Justice Ivor Archie and Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard on the early proclamation of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Bill, 2011.
That provision, which has since been repealed, created an amnesty for people who had criminal cases pending for ten years and more and was widely seen as benefitting UNC financiers charged in the Piarco Airport corruption case. Volney resigned from the UNC in July and joined the Independent Liberal Party, which is led by Jack Warner.