14 Oct 2004

Tonga Cabinet told it must take more responsibility for legal suits against government

8:40 pm on 14 October 2004

An MP in Tonga has called for all the country's Cabinet Ministers to be held accountable for the costs the government has incurred from lost court cases.

Dr Fred Sevele's call comes after the government's media legislation was ruled void by the Chief Justice, and some publications are expected to seek compensation for losses suffered.

Dr Sevele says while three ministers were sacked earlier this year for giving bad advice, the whole cabinet should be held accountable because they voted for the legislation.

He says the government has a bad record in court and the taxpayer should not be held responsible.

"You take the case of the Taimi, the bans last year, several bans, one after the other, which led to two court cases which the Taimi finally won. And that cost in our estimation, while the out of court settlement was not disclosed - the amount. Our estimation is that it was over half a million. This recent case is going to cost more than that."

Dr Sevele says Cabinet ministers should pay the legal costs out of their own pocket.