Political leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP) Harold Lovell has called on the country’s embattled Director of Public Prosecutions Anthony Armstrong to resign.
Armstrong – who was appointed under the previous UPP administration – is facing a string of fraud-related charges in his native Jamaica in relation to three properties he apparently sold without the consent of his client who they belonged to.
He is currently on bail and due to appear before court again on Wednesday.
While Shannon Jones-Gittens – a senior crown counsel for more than 12 years – has been appointed Acting DPP in his absence, Lovell went a step further in suggesting that Armstrong do the “honourable thing” and resign, claiming he has tainted the DPP’s office.
“I believed what he ought to do is the right and honourable thing and just resign as DPP. Do not come back as DPP.
“If he wants to come back to Antigua whatever happens, I mean, Antigua is an open country. Go ahead if you want to do what you want to do, you know if you are free to practice, but as far as being the DPP is concerned, I do not think it is good for confidence that people must have in the judicial system to have the prosecutor being prosecuted.
“It doesn’t look good, it doesn’t look good at all,” Lovell told the UPP’s Captain’s Corner show.
While Lovell posited that “a man is innocent until he is found guilty” he is adamant that for the “sake of Antigua and Barbuda, we need to be rid of all this”.
Lovell said he hopes the DPP will be treated fairly in his legal matter. The UPP leader maintains he himself has not been treated fairly by Armstrong and the courts in relation to an ongoing case against Lovell and two UPP colleagues who are accused of converting and using for personal use three Daewoo buses donated to his then government by South Korea.
“I am not going to speculate. I will only say that it’s a funny thing that he charged three of us, and I don’t want to get too personal, but he charged three of us with fraudulent conversion and now he is in Jamaica facing a charge of fraudulent conversion,” Lovell said.
“I hope that in our case the magistrate will throw the case out but I hope you don’t have a vindictive DPP in Jamaica who will then appeal that so that it can go to trial before judge, and even if it goes before trial before judge, I hope he will not be faced with a vindictive DPP who would then appeal the judge’s ruling that there is no case to answer. Because as you know, what goes around comes around.
“And I’m sure he’s now hoping that whatever happens, he will be discharged and that he won’t have somebody who’s doing everything to make sure that he gets convicted, but what does this mean for his future as DPP in Antigua and Barbuda?
“I’m not asking you to speculate but the concern is, here you have a man who holds a constitutional position and there are so many doubts surrounding his practice. How does that play on the mind going forward, in terms of him being considered in the future?” Lovell asked.
Meanwhile, Lovell congratulated Gittens on her new post.
“We have a young Barbudan woman acting in the position. Well, congratulations to her, you know I’m all in favour of the young lawyers coming forward and showing what they can do and it’s a great challenge for her.
“You know, being DPP is not an easy task but I have to say that I’ve seen her in action and I think she’s up to the task, and I wish her well,” he said.
The Cabinet said the Judicial and Legal Services Commission based in St Lucia will determine the actions which are to follow Armstrong’s arrest and charges.
The Commission is the institution under the Antigua and Barbuda Constitution Order – Section 87 — which is tasked with exercising disciplinary control over legal officers within its jurisdiction.