Decision of the Court of Appeal in George v Senior Magistrate and DPP SKBHCVAP2019/004
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, August 22, 2020 (SKNIS): The Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeal of Wingrove George, the former Supervisor of Elections. Wingrove George was charged with the offence of misconduct in public office arising from his actions during the 16th February, 2015 when he refused to announce the results of constituencies number 4 and 8. On the 26th January, 2018 Mr. George challenged the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions to commence prosecutions and the decision of the Magistrate to issue the summons. He brought an application for judicial review against the Senior Magistrate and the Director of Public Prosecutions. Mr. George alleged that the Magistrate had no jurisdiction to try the charges. Mr. George contended that because the conduct complained of arose during the conduct of an election, the charge had to be tried by election petition filed within 21 days of the election. The Senior Magistrate and the Director of Public Prosecutions argued in response that the election petition only related to matters concerning whether or not a candidate had been validly elected to the National Assembly.
The trial judge, Justice Eddy Ventose, agreed with the position taken by the Senior Magistrate and the Director of Public Prosecutions dismissed Mr. George’s application seeking judicial review with costs. Mr. George appealed both the dismissal of his application for judicial review and the order for costs. The Court of Appeal agreed with the arguments made by the Senior Magistrate and the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Court of Appeal held that the election petition was only to be used where one complains that a member of National Assembly had not validly been elected and that Mr. George’s prosecution and potential conviction would not affect the result of the elections. The Court of Appeal also held that the offence of misconduct in public office was an offence at common law which is incorporated in the law of Saint Kitts and Nevis and was not repealed or removed by Parliament. The Court of Appeal however allowed his appeal in relation to costs and ordered that both sides should bear their own costs.
Mr. Wingrove George was represented by Mr. Sylvester Anthony and Ms. Angelina Gracy Sookoo-Bobb. The Senior Magistrate and the Director of Public Prosecutions was represented by Mr. Dane Hamilton Q.C. and Mr. Victor Elliott-Hamilton.