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Gafoor appeal dismissed

Justices uphold High Court ruling...

By Rickie Ramdass rickie.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

AN appeal filed by former deputy chairman of the Integrity Commission Gladys Gafoor was dismissed by the Court of Appeal yesterday.

Gafoor was appealing the ruling of a High Court judge who, in 2012, dismissed a constitutional motion she had filed, challenging the decision of former president George Maxwell Richards to appoint a tribunal to investigate complaints made against her by fellow members of the Integrity Commission.

The purpose of the investigation was to determine if Gafoor should be removed from the position she held.

In July 2012, Justice Vashiest Kokaram dismissed the constitutional motion, in which Richards was accused of “misfeasance in public office” arising out of his decision to suspend her with full pay and appoint the tribunal.

During yesterday’s hearing, the panel of judges, which comprised justices Peter Jamadar, Nolan Bureaux and Gregory Smith, said they were in agreement with the judgment handed down by Kokaram.

Gafoor’s argument at both the High Court and Court of Appeal was that ex-president Richards did not give her a fair hearing before arriving at his decision to appoint the tribunal and that he acted “with stealth or stole a march” on her and did not involve her in his deliberations before making the appointment.

She complained there was insufficient evidence to trigger the appointment of the tribunal, which was chaired by former chief justice Michael de la Bastide and comprised Justice Humphrey Stollmeyer and Justice Maureen Rajnauth Lee.

In delivering the ruling, Justice Smith said Gafoor complained that Richards did not inform her of the complaints, but she also accepted that before the appointment of the tribunal she was given time to respond.

In the 2012 ruling, Kokaram had said, “Shorn of the constitutional niceties in this case, Mrs Gafoor’s real complaint is simply that although she received a hearing, she deserved a better one.”

The dispute between Gafoor and fellow IC commissioners—chairman Ken Gordon, Neil Rolingson and Dr Ann Marie Bissessar—arose when former attorney general John Jeremie wrote to the commission on November 15, 2011.  

Jeremie requested that Gafoor and another commissioner, Seunarine Jokhoo, recuse themselves from hearing a matter against him (Jeremie).

The other members of the cmmission had agreed with Jeremie on December 19, 2010 and Jokhoo recused himself.  

Gafoor, however, refused to follow suit. 

Attorney Clyde Phelps led the case for Gafoor, while senior counsel Avery Sinanan represented the Office of the Attorney General.

Integrity Commission chairman Gordon was unavailable for comment yesterday.

 
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