ST. JOHN’S, Antigua — Outgoing Governor-General of Antigua & Barbuda, Dame Louise Lake-Tack, used her final hours of office on August 13 to confer knighthoods on nine individuals – including her son – and a further ten national honours on various other members of the public, including her former gardener, maid, police outriders and staff members.
According to the Antigua Observer, Lake-Tack’s son was knighted for his role as a “confidante and legal adviser” to his mother, while the owner of Harney Motors Ltd, Sir Ewart Harney, and founder of Kennedy’s Club, Sir Glasford Francis, were knighted for contributions to entrepreneurship and community service. Other recipients of knighthoods included Dr. Carl Roberts, former High Commissioner to London; Hazlyn Francis, former President of the Senate; Gisele Isaac, former Speaker of the House and Valerie Smith, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Governor General.
An infuriated ALP: But despite assertions by Permanent Secretary Smith that the law empowers a Governor-General who demits office to confer awards “which cannot later be contested or reversed”, the Gaston Browne Antigua Labour Party (ALP) government is incensed at Dame Louise’s latest actions in office.
In a strongly worded statement, the Government insisted that the former Governor-General committed an “unlawful act” when she conferred national honours on the nineteen individuals without authorisation.
The former Governor-General evidently decided to diminish the value of the national honours when she conferred a Knighthood on her son, and several unknown persons; and, also chose to confer national honours on her gardener, her secretary and two police outriders.
– Government of Antigua & Barbuda statement
The Government’s excoriating statement called Dame Louise a “vindictive individual” while referring to her “involuntary departure” from office, and insisted that a Governor-General is not vested with the authority to select persons for national honours in their own right.
The statement further cited several legal experts who have concluded that the honours in question were void from the moment they were conferred. In this regard, Prime Minister Gaston Browne has indicated that he will have the national Honours Committee ratify Dame Louise’s awards “where the national is deserving”, and to void honours that were based on factors that bear no relation to outstanding service.
The official Government statement also chided Dame Louise for denying national honours to “deserving patriots”, seemingly in reference to her repeated reticence to knight or honour former Prime Minister Lester Bird, and other Antigua Labour Party nominees for national awards, while the now-ruling party was in Opposition.
This is a follow-up to the article “Antigua & Barbuda Replaces its Governor-General‘” published on August 9, 2014