Sanctus – Former leader and deputy leader of the Sanctarian Conservative Party, Kate Cruz and Noreen Islington, are to resign as members of the House of Deputies, as well as their membership of the party, after it was reported today that the Public Prosecution Service is to direct the Sanctarian Federal Police to charge the two with breaking electoral and company law.
Speaking at a joint conference today, Cruz said that she and Islington had “made the difficult decision” to resign as MPs, effective tomorrow, in order to “fully fight” their upcoming court cases. “We cannot simultaneously defend ourselves in court, and defend our constituents in the House, it is not possible”, Islington added in her statement. Although the PPS hasn’t publicly confirmed they will be requesting criminal charges laid against the two Sanctus-based MPs, both Cruz and Islington’s comments today made clear their legal teams had been informed it was forthcoming; both Cruz and Islington had been separately formally arrested and questioned over the last number of weeks in relation to the missing party funds uncovered during the party’s late submission of accounts.
Despite the two’s claims today, however, it is understood from sources with the SCP that party leader Julie Chrisintim had met with both Cruz and Islington this week and made clear to to them that should formal charges be laid against them, she would be withdrawing the SCP parliamentary whip and making moves to suspend them from the party altogether. This would have resulted in the MPs sitting as independent members of the House, and not as part of the SCP grouping. Their decision today to resign their seats and their party membership will come as a relief to Chrisintim, who now has the unenviable task of trying to rebuild public confidence in the party while her predecessor as leader has to appear in court for allegedly misusing party funds.
It is not yet known with what crimes the PPS, the independent prosecution agency, will be charging both Cruz and Islington with, but sources in the SFP have said the formal arrest cautions last week included misappropriation of public funds, accounting fraud, and falsifying company records. If these are the charges brought against the two, and if they are convicted, they face serious fines as well as possible prison sentences.
Cruz and Islington maintain their innocence in the face of upcoming charges, and the SCP have not made comment on either their stated resignations, or the criminal case that may be following. Following submission of their resignations to the Speaker of the House tomorrow, by-elections in the Sanctus 2nd and 14th cantons will take place in the next months.
JOEY SESSIONS, Political Editor, and LOUISA SOUTER, Crime & Justice Correspondent