ATTORNEY General Anand Ramlogan said yesterday that he feels compelled to clear the air on the perception, by some, that he may have leaked, to businessmen Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson, information about the now repealed Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act before the Legal Notice was published.
In a statement issued yesterday, Ramlogan responded to a statement made by Independent Senator Corrine Baptiste-McKnight at a panel discussion at the UWI St Augustine campus on October 3.
Baptiste-McKnight told the audience: "I went down to the Gazette office to get a copy of the Legal Notice concerning this proclamation. The Legal Notice is dated September 10. How come some people know to go before the Judge and put in an application before the Legal Notice was published?"
In his statement yesterday, Ramlogan said Baptiste-McKnight got her facts wrong. He said the Legal Notice was actually published on August 30 and was therefore public knowledge at that time.
"I was disturbed by the dark insinuation that these particular defendants had 'insider information' about the early proclamation of Section 34 which they exploited to their benefit," Ramlogan said.
"Unfortunately, the learned Senator got her facts wrong and hence posed a dangerous rhetorical question pregnant with conspirational implications. No one in the media bothered to verify if what she said was in fact correct."
Ramlogan said he did not intend to comment further on the issue because he accepts that mistakes are made and that Baptiste-McKnight was probably caught up in the heat of the debate and perhaps made an honest error.
"I am, however, compelled to clear the air in the face of the clear insinuation that I could be among those who might have 'leaked' this secret information to these businessmen.
"Legal Notice No. 348, which dealt with the proclamation of Section 34 was in fact published on August 30th, 2012. The applications by Galbaransingh and Ferguson were filed on September 10. It is therefore patently false and untrue to suggest that they were able to file their applications before the Legal Notice was published."
Ramlogan said the Legal Notice, once published, is available to anyone from the Government Printery.
"One may well ask however, 'How is it that these defendants knew to even go to the printer to request copies ?'. The answer may well lie in the fact that it was well-publicised by the media, for example, the front page story of the Express on September 1st (with the headline) "President Moves to End Preliminary Enquiries".
"I have no doubt that Senator Mc Knight was not deliberately misleading her audience but made an honest error."
The proclamation of Section 34, on August 30 by President George Maxwell Richards paved the way for persons to apply to a judge to have their matters dismissed, if they were charged with an offence committed more than ten years before and not prosecuted.
Parliament has since voted to repeal the Act.
Many observers believed, however, that the law was tailor made for the accused charged in the Piarco Airport corruption case.
Contacted by the Express yesterday, Baptiste-McKnight said she was standing by her statement.
She said the first time the public had access to the Gazette or Legal Notice was when it was published on the Government's website.
"Unless you know to go down to the Government Printery and purchase a copy of the Gazette or Legal Notice, you check on the website and when it comes up on the website there it is," Baptiste McKnight said.
Told that Ramlogan was asserting that the date on the Legal Notice was August 30, Baptiste-McKnight asked: "Published means what ? That the public had access to it on that date ? My point is that I had no access to it until the day that I went down there because it was not published on the net before that."
Asked by the Express if that's the only time one could consider a Legal Notice to be published, she responded: "Not published per se, but when people have access to it. I only had access to it on (September) 10th when I went down there and when it was published on the net."
She said Ramlogan, as an attorney previously in private practice, may have known how to source information from the Government Printery about Legal Notices before they were published on the website.
"But not being a lawyer, I don't know."