Timing and context
I find it strange the Sunday Express would devote two consecutive front page stories to Attorney General Anand Ramlogan’s personal life and marriage. That this took precedence over other pressing national issues such as the budget, devastating floods and the spike in the murder rate gave one the impression there was more in the mortar than just the pestle.
People are concerned about critical national issues, not the personal life of public officials. There must be some decorum and code of conduct for the media lest we scare away talented professionals from offering to serve in public office. Whether you are a minister, a judge or a chairman of a board, your decision to serve the public cannot justify unwarranted invasions of privacy and family life.
In the past, it was an unwritten rule that was understood and observed: the personal family life of ministers will not be the subject of unnecessary media exposure. Thus, it is impossible to recall any story about the spouse of any former attorney general or minister. Hazel Manning was an exception because she was appointed a minister by her husband.
The distress and trauma that were no doubt inflicted upon the Attorney General’s family were unfortunate and unforgivable. In the attempt to target and attack him, no thought was spared for his two young children. Parents must be horrified by the scandalous and sensational tabloid journalism that took priority over serious national issues.
As if that wasn’t enough, Jagdeo Singh, an attorney-at-law with over 20 years’ experience, suddenly made the front page for his legal invoices. Readers were cleverly reminded he is the attorney for the Attorney General’s wife. Two unnamed senior counsel were permitted the luxury of analysing and dissecting his bills.
I enjoy the distinction of having been briefed by the State under the People’s National Movement (PNM) and the present administration. During the eight years when the PNM was in power, no one ever bothered to question the legal invoices submitted by lawyers. Many of these lawyers were in fact junior to Mr Singh and charged fees that were on par with (and, in some cases, in excess of) what Mr Singh billed for his services. The absence of any similar story when the PNM was in power is all the more alarming and suspicious.
Envy and jealously exist in the legal profession, and it is easy for lawyers to criticise invoices of their colleagues. When the criticism is clothed with anonymity, it is a luxury and opportunity for the execution of personal vendettas. What, pray tell, would one make of these criticisms if they were levelled by someone with a PNM axe to grind?
The timing and context of this story leave the reader with the impression Mr Singh was targeted because he dared to write a legal letter in defence and on behalf of the Attorney General’s wife. The facts in this story occurred when Senator Devant Maharaj was the new minister of transport. That this story surfaced one year later, a week after Mr Singh wrote a legal letter on behalf of the Attorney General’s wife and the fact that this was specifically referred to as part of the story, leads one to wonder if it is more in the mortar than just the pestle.
Israel B Khan, SC
EDITOR’S NOTE: SC Khan is incorrect when he states there is an unwritten rule of journalism understood and
observed that the personal family life
of ministers will not be the subject of
unnecessary media exposure.