31 Aug 2010

Tonga leader says judge's claims false and he left them in the lurch

7:37 pm on 31 August 2010

The Tonga Government says claims by a Supreme Court Judge that it demanded he stop working as a judge are false.

The judge, Warwick Andrew, who had headed the Commission of Inquiry into the sinking of the Princess Ashika, had resigned and he says his finish date was October the 5th.

But he told Tonga's lawyers earlier this week that Cabinet had said he couldn't continue and to hand his files to the acting Chief Justice.

He says he deeply regrets the injustice this means for those with cases only partly heard and who'll have to go through the expense of starting again.

But the Prime Minister, Dr Feleti Sevele, says the claims are false, because Mr Andrew had resigned in early July asking to leave Tonga by the 16th of August, so he could take up a judicial appointment in Australia.

"To him the most important thing was take the appointment in Australia, forget about Tonga. Didn't have the decency to give us adequate notice so we can get a replacement and he knew well that he was leaving on the 16th when he asked for the resignation, leaving us in the lurch."