(CNS): The chief justice has ruled that a spent conviction for dishonesty has disqualified a candidate from office. As a result of a court order, however, the media has been banned from identifying the candidate to protect his character. Chief Justice Anthony Smellie found that there are conditions on the rehabilitation of an offender that are not absolute and the constitutional provision that bars people running for public office if they have ever been convicted of any dishonesty offence is one of those exceptions.
The chief justice read only the conclusion of his decision Monday, following the hearing before the court last week, where local attorney Graham Hampson argued that his client’s conviction, which dates back to the early 1990’s, was spent and the entire purpose of spent convictions is to allow a person to regain their full good character.
But the country’s top judge found that for the purposes of standing for public office, his spent conviction still bars him from running for election as a member of the Legislative Assembly. He said this was down to public interest and that the constitution was clear that any dishonesty offence was enough to disqualify a candidate because the goal was to ensure only people “of high integrity” have the opportunity to stand for public office.
The court is also considering two other cases that relate to issues of status and citizenship.
Check back to CNS through this week for more on issues relating to candidate qualifications.