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Speaker mum on De Lima 'blank'

By Ria Taitt Political Editor

House Speaker Wade Mark has refused to give the reason why he denied attorney Vernon De Lima's request to reply in Parliament to National Security Minister Jack Warner's "defamatory parliamentary pronouncements".

Warner had said on March 8 that De Lima was present at a meeting in St Joseph at which 15 people conspired to destabilise the country.

De Lima then wrote to Mark seeking the opportunity to respond to Warner's statement.

He has categorically denied that he ever attended such a meeting or knew any of the other people named by Warner as being in attendance.

Mark, however, did not approve De Lima's request to "have placed on the parliamentary record a response" to Warner's allegation.

De Lima then wrote Mark seeking a reason for his decision, citing Section 16 of the Judicial Review Act No 60 of 2000, which states that where a person is adversely affected by a decision to which the Act applies, he may request from the decision maker a statement of the reason for the decision.

Communicating the decision through a letter signed by Clerk of the House Jacqui Sampson-Meiguel, the letter, dated March 26, said: "I refer to your letter dated 20th instant to the Hon Wade Mark, Speaker of the House, in which you have requested from the Hon Speaker a statement of reasons for his decision in respect of the captioned subject matter. By your letter the request is made purportedly in accordance with Section 16 of the Judicial Review Act...The Hon Speaker has advised that his decision is not one to which the Judicial Review Act applies and in the circumstances I am directed to advise that your request is respectfully denied."

De Lima had originally called on Warner to apologise for the statement, but Warner has refused.

Warner named George Bell and former Defence Force soldier Bryan Barrington as participants at the meeting.

But Barrington denied attending such a meeting and Bell, at whose house the meeting was held, stated that neither De Lima nor Barrington was there.

Bell said the meeting was held to discuss the state of the country with a view to arriving at solutions.

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