Saturday, February 24, 2018

PM: DPP should focus on contents

Prime Minister Kamla-Persad Bissessar said yesterday she hoped Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard will follow his own advice and “focus on the contents of the report”. 

Gaspard, at a plea bargaining workshop yesterday, responding to questions on two reports, one from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and another from the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) on the existence of the New Flying Squad Investigative Unit (NFSIU), said  focus should be put on the contents of the report. 

Persad-Bissessar, speaking to reporters after an Easter Tea she hosted at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, said she will not comment on the leaks to the media, first reported in the Sunday Express, because the matter (of the reports) is the subject of a live investigation by the DPP.

She said she will not directly respond to the DPP’s statements because she had not heard them, but will instead respond to the question posed to her based on his statements. 

“The report is under the purview of the office of the DPP and I am certain the DPP will take his own advice and focus on the contents of the report.”

She added further she will not comment on the public spat between Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and the chairman of the PCA, Gillian Lucky, regarding the source of the leaks. 

Persad-Bissessar also said the issues raised by former solicitor general Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell about whether attorneys involved in prison litigation are engaged in an “unethical business venture” was  “a serious matter of concern”. 

This week’s Sunday Express had reported Donaldson-Honeywell expressing her concerns via a letter to the Prime Minister that the State, through the office of the Attorney General, had been forking out millions to certain attorneys to settle matters.

From her vantage point, Donaldson-Honeywell was alarmed by what she termed an “unethical business venture”.

To this end, she wrote to Persad-Bissessar asking her to initiate an investigation into circumstances, “that may amount inter alia to breaches of professional ethics by the attorneys  involved and may have the effect of perverting the course of justice in litigation against the State”.

“I received a letter. The honourable Attorney General is the legal adviser to the Cabinet and the Government and has the responsibility for those areas in his portfolio. It was passed to him; I was advised certain discussions took place and I was further advised there was another letter—which I have not had sight of in which (Donaldson-Honeywell) expressed her satisfaction with what has been happening. I have not seen the letter; I read it in the newspaper,” she said.

These “unethical business practices” were first raised in a Sunday Express article on March 30, where it was reported that Master Patricia Sobion-Awai called for an investigation to be launched into the circumstances surrounding how prison inmate Jamal Sambury, who is represented by Gerald Ramdeen, seemed to be able to have “copied” large segments of statements of successful litigants who won their matters before the High Court. 

On the issue of the Sambury case, Ramlogan had said on CNC3 earlier this month that  he found it “curious” the Sunday Express would have a running series on what he considered to be “a simple and explainable matter” and that “the reporter (Denyse Renne) in question in this matter is targeting someone as part of the execution of a personal vendetta.”