Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Spencer not the first

Kern Spencer joins a small list of sitting Jamaican Members of Parliament who have faced criminal charges.

Political historians agree that in the 1940s Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) MP Cleave Lewis was charged with selling farm work tickets.

They also agree that later another JLP MP, JZ Malcolm, faced a similar charge.

However there is no agreement on whether a former MP for St. Mary North, Wycliffe Martin, was charged while he was in the House following a victory in the 1967 General Election or after he lost in 1972.

But there's no question that J.A.G Smith was out of the House when he was charged and convicted for conspiracy to defraud the Farm Work Programme.

Smith, a Minister of Labour in the JLP administration of the 1980s and his Permanent Secretary, Probyn Aitkin, were charged after investigations into several improprieties and irregularities involving thousands of dollars from the U.S and Canadian Farm Work Programme.

Aitken pleaded guilty on May 8, 1990, and became the main witness in the case against Smith.

Atkin was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment.

Smith, a chartered accountant was convicted and sentenced to a three-year prison term.

He appealed to the UK Privy Council, but lost his appeal.


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