The total cost of the legal battle between Speaker of the House Julian Willock and Fourth District Representative Mark Vanterpool totaled $270,000, and government has paid $130,000 of that so far, Premier Andrew Fahie revealed in the House of Assembly on July 31 in response to questions from Opposition Leader Marlon Penn.
That cost could go up or down, he said, because the question of who is responsible for paying the legal fees is still making its way through court. The attorney general, he said, could not represent Mr. Willock because he had already given advice to Mr. Vanterpool, meaning that Mr. Willock had to seek independent counsel to avoid a conflict of interest.
Justice Ann-Marie Smith ordered Mr. Willock to swear in Mr. Vanterpool as Fourth District representative on May 2, after a lengthy legal battle over the validity of Mr. Vanterpool’s March 5 resignation and subsequent reversal.
But Mr. Willock appealed her decision to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court before dropping the case after Mr. Fahie publicly requested that he do so.
The court has yet to rule on the issue of legal costs, and it is unclear if it has set a date yet.
Mr. Penn then took a crack at Mr. Fahie, saying that the cost of the legal battle was less than that of Mr. Fahie’s private security detail.
Mr. Fahie responded that the security was necessary for his safety.
Mr. Penn also pressed Mr. Fahie on the details and cost of the vehicles he has purchased since taking office.
Mr. Fahie said that five vehicles had been purchased for $301,095 by the Virgin Islands government, and not by Mr. Fahie as an individual.
He also said that a contract with Virgin Islands Motors to purchase two pickup trucks and five hatchback vehicles for $150,900 was in its “final stage.”
He added that another tender for an additional pool of vehicles was out for bids.
When Mr. Penn asked why so many vehicles were necessary for the House of Assembly, Mr. Fahie said that they were assigned to specific departments and ministries and that he would have to seek information from each specific entity