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May 16, 2019

Court of Appeal Orders Julius Espat’s Claim to be Heard

It made headlines back in August 2016 when opposition parliamentarian Julius Espat was physically removed from the House of Representatives on the instruction of former House Speaker Michael Peyrefitte.  The incident was unprecedented as the Cayo South Area Representative was manhandled and ejected out of the building by several police officers after raising the damning Auditor General‘s Special Audit on corruption at the Immigration Department.  During the mayhem that occurred inside the Assembly Building, Espat injured his hand and was later suspended from the House after being named.  He took the matter to court, filing a claim which was to have been heard by Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin.  The presiding judge struck out the claim on the basis that it lacked merit.  An appeal was subsequently filed and today, almost two and a half years later, a decision was handed down to have the matter heard before the Supreme Court.  Attorney Andrew Marshalleck represents Julius Espat.


Andrew Marshalleck

Andrew Marshalleck, Attorney for Julius Espat

“I’m sure everyone can remember what happened in the House when the Speaker purportedly named Mr. Espat and had him physically removed from the premises.  Well immediately following that, we had filed suit alleging that those actions were taken in breach of the constitutional rights of Mr. Espat, specifically that the issue of the naming was never put to the House for a vote and that under the rules properly the House should have voted on whether or he should be named.  Instead, the Speaker usurped that power and exercised it without having put it to a vote.  What happened at first instance, in the court below, the Chief Justice acceded to an application to strike out the claim.  He found that the allegations of constitutional breach were without merit and struck out the claim on that basis.  It’s been some time now so I can’t remember all the details specifically.  We had appealed against that decision and the Court of Appeal just now handed down its ruling on the appeal setting aside the Chief Justice’s order and remitting the application to strike back to another judge of the court below for hearing.”

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