Government senator Dr Lester Henry who has a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction, like former PNM Senator Garvin Simonette, has refused to say if he will follow in the footsteps of Simonette and resign.
Henry comes into focus after Simonette’s resignation from the Senate on Monday because of a DUI which arose in the US in 2014. That was revealed after Simonette was offered the Public Administration Ministry, to replace Port-of-Spain South MP Marlene McDonald. His appointment was pulled after the conviction was made public.
Henry also has 2018 DUI conviction locally. But he didn’t resign from the Senate. His continued presence post-DUI has been brought up by the Opposition before.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad- Bissessar revived it at UNC’s meeting on Tuesday, noting Simonette’s resignation. She said, “There’s another Government Senator who was convicted of the same DUI charge, who remains in the Senate. The Prime Minister has made no moves to remove him. But that’s not surprising, as Rowley cannot lead.”
Contacted yesterday on if he would resign as Simonette did, Henry replied, “I have no comment”.
The phone then clicked off.
Political analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath said there is no constitutional bar forcing Henry to resign and the PNM has not asked him to, “So I’m assuming it’s his own ethical standards that would keep him there.”
On whether or not the inconsistent situation can stand, he added, “It’s left for PNM’s political leader to take a firm decision and set the ethical and moral compass by which he expects party members would follow.”
Former public service head Reginald Dumas also added his voice to the matter. He said, “I commend Mr Simonette for his actions. While there’s no legal or constitutional reason to resign from the Senate for a DUI - George W Bush had one years ago and went on to become US President - Simonette’s action brings certain ethical pressure to bear on Henry and the PNM since Henry could become a political distraction.”
Dumas added, “This is a question of ethics with clear political dimensions, in light of Simonette’s action. It’s not simply a matter of law. PP ‘s Collin Partap was immediately removed as Minister after his DUI matter. So ethical and political pressure could be extended to Henry should he remain in Senate. My feeling is he’d have to go before he becomes a political distraction.”