The first punch in the debate yesterday on the motion of censure against Attorney General Anand Ramlogan was fired by Sport Minister Anil Roberts.
Roberts moved a motion of privilege against Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, who brought the censure motion to Parliament, claiming he was guilty of contempt in his attack on acting President Timothy Hamel-Smith.
Roberts raised the motion at the start of the Parliament sitting where he pointed out that Rowley met with Hamel-Smith on September 18 and presented a petition to him calling for an investigation into the proclamation of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act.
On September 28, Roberts said that Hamel-Smith issued a press release concerning the matter and also dispatched a confidential letter to Rowley, detailing the results of his investigations into the matter raised by Rowley.
Rowley, said Roberts, wrote to the Acting President requesting permission to go public with the letter and if there was no reply in two days he would so do.
On October 18, Roberts said Rowley, at a public meeting in Diego Martin, proceeded to discharge his ultimatum and read extracts of the letter.
Roberts claimed that at the meeting Rowley also "proceeded to launch an unwarranted and scurrilous attack on the Office of the President by imputing that the Acting President was attempting to "rubber stamp" what he referred to as "the Prime Minister's attempt to sweep this matter under the carpet".
Roberts added that Rowley also called into question the legitimacy of the constitutional arrangements for the selection of an Acting President as contained in the Constitution.
The Constitution, said Roberts, states that the President (even Acting) shall not be answerable to any court for the performance of the functions of his office or for any act done by him in the performance of his functions.
Roberts said that Rowley, notwithstanding these provisions, by his "reckless utterances" committed contempt when he :
1. Scandalised and brought into odium, ridicule and public distrust the Office of President, by imputing improper motives to the Acting President.
2. Reflected adversely on the conduct of the Acting President.
3. Impugned the integrity and conduct of the President of the Senate in the legitimate exercise of his functions as Acting President; and
4. As a further consequence of the foregoing the Honourable Leader of the Opposition has, by his conduct, undermined the dignity of the House of Representatives.
"Mr Speaker, I beg to move that this matter be referred to the Committee of Privileges of the House of Representatives for consideration and report," he said.
House Speaker Wade Mark said he would make a ruling on this motion in the future.