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Sir Gerald Watt Takes Dane Hamilton to Task

Tuesday 16th October, 2018-Queen’s Counsel Sir Gerald Watt continues to fiercely defend his “Madness” comment made months ago, while criticizing a High Court Judge’s decision to grant an injunction, halting work on the Barbuda Airport Project.

The comment drew condemnation from several sectors of society, including the Bar Council, which the veteran attorney took on both in a letter and via radio.

Sir Gerald is at it again, this time in response to a letter that was printed in the Daily Observer by Queen’s Counsel Dane Hamilton captioned “QUO VADIS”, a Latin phrase that means “Where are you going?” maintaining he had every right to criticize the judge’s decision.

In a letter to the newspaper’s editor, Mr. Watt wrote “I reserve the right as a Senior Queen’s Counsel to analyze and criticize any court’s decision, as long as I do so respectfully. In this regard I reject the contention that my criticism in these circumstances was harsh and intemperate. No reasonable and sensible person could come to this conclusion, although I accept that I perhaps might have used a more prudent and judicious word.”

The most egregious part of Mr. Hamilton’s letter Sir Gerald noted, “was is his conflation of his positions of speaker and attorney, and his opinion that it is not expected that the speaker would publicly seek to advance the political agenda of the party that elected him”, and ” it is not expected that the speaker’s Law Chambers would benefit from briefs for legal works (sic) from the Government lest it is said that he is impartial or partial to policy issues that are dealt with, and must be dealt with solely by Government”, this is a patent non sequitur.

In response, Mr. Watt stated that “the idea that a practicing attorney elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives is forbidden ethically or otherwise from representing a government or government institutions is an absurdity, and no first year law student could come to such a conclusion.”  He continued that “Mr. Hamilton asserts “that one cannot be both, (ie Speaker and Attorney) nor should one be perceived as having a conflict of interest”. This I contend is a farcical statement, and is not grounded by any ethical underpinnings. Indeed this is not a novel accusation as it has been long made by opposition politicians and their semi literate serial callers to Observer radio.”

The veteran attorney noted that “the firm of  Watt, Dorsett & Company take strong exception to Hamilton’s insinuation that the writer and the firm /I are benefiting from briefs for legal works (sic) from the Government”, because of and as a result of my position as Speaker of the House of Representatives. My. Hamilton cannot be serious, when the young attorney migrated to Antigua and practiced as a Junior Counsel in the Chambers of Bird and Bird which was situated on Redcliffe Street and appearing in the Magistrate’s Court. I was an established leading attorney with a practice in the High Court, Court of Appeal and being called, and appearing in other States of the O.E.C.S, having graduated from a widespread and successful criminal practice into civil litigation, appearing before all Courts including the JCPC, in a wide range of important and complex matters. Further in addition, while I and my partner Dr. David Dorsett, and recently Associate Counsel Jarid Hewlett Esq., have represented the U.P.P Government and some of its Statutory bodies, we have also appeared in multiple cases against the present Government and certain Statutory bodies including but not limited to the Immigration Department. It is therefore disingenuous if not downright dishonest to suggest that this firm’s practice is built on patronage.”

Watt said he is “singularly unimpressed with the writer’s reference to the ancient Privy Council case of ANDRE AMBRAND -v- THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF TRINIDAD & TABAGO, as this case dealt with the issue of press freedom, “and the right of members of the public to criticize in good faith in public, the public administration of justice”.”

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