By Carlena Knight
Despite public scrutiny over the United Progressive Party’s (UPP) decision to select a former Antigua Labour Party MP as a candidate for the upcoming elections, a top party official is standing by that choice.
Jamale Pringle, the UPP’s deputy political leader who was also responsible for organising primaries, said despite concerns raised about Sherfield Bowen’s past legal troubles, there is no reason why he should not be a credible candidate.
In 2003, Bowen, a lawyer by profession, was charged with the murder of Tessa Barthley who was shot in the neck on December 16 that year following a scuffle in his office between the pair.
Barthley was put on life support but died a short time later of a heart attack, hospital officials had reported.
In 2005, Bowen was convicted and sentenced to five years for manslaughter. During his time in prison, Bowen was lauded as a “good inmate” who taught computer classes, remedial reading and assisted inmates preparing for CXC examinations.
Two years later, the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction and ruled that the director of public prosecutions could re-indict and redo the trial since the matter is indictable. Bowen walked free on June 21 2007.
According to Pringle, if the courts exonerated Bowen then there is no reason why the UPP should be concerned about using the former ALP representative on its slate.
“What we continuously do in Antigua and Barbuda, I think you are held responsible for things which have been basically rectified within the courts. So, then I cannot hold something against you that the court didn’t find you guilty of based on the situation,” he said.
He also addressed those concerns which derived from within the party after Bowen won the St Phillip’s South primary, saying there will always be those who are unhappy but it is up to the party to adhere to its constitution.
“Once there’s a primary there’s going to be somebody that is not pleased. According to the constitution, Mr Bowen is the elected member of the branch. I haven’t heard anyone complaining about the process. These are things that may be up there before, he won the primary and then this.
“If my candidate that I am supporting loses, you will find that they will find some reason that there is some flaw in the process. I think that from the reports it was a fair primary and he won the primary.
“On the other hand, is it fair that you have the right to choose who you want to represent you and you supported that person, but now rather than rallying behind you tend to start creating mischief in terms of the whole campaign against as you said persons are campaigning against him in that regard?” Pringle questioned.
Pringle, the All Saints East and St Luke representative, has however called on the UPP and its supporters to come together and focus on the falls of the ABLP government instead of its own members.
“Let us not focus on any one individual but let us focus on the state of Antigua and Barbuda and its economy. Just as how you tend to hold the United Progressive Party accountable for its actions, let us hold the government that was elected overwhelmingly for its actions.
“It’s not my job only, it’s for Antigua and Barbuda to hold them accountable. We cannot have the distractions of who I think should run because what you are going to do, they are going to help you to take the focus off of them by doing different things so that they get a leg up and the wrongdoings remain in the background,” Pringle said yesterday on the Observer AM show.