Satisfied that a certified affidavit from Google Inc has vindicated him of any wrongdoing in the ongoing Emailgate scandal, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has now set his sights on recovering personal money spent on investigations into the matter.
Ramlogan was speaking to the media yesterday at the Office of the Attorney General, Cabildo Chambers, St Vincent Street, Port of Spain, when he said he would now be seeking to recover monies from Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley in the sum of over $1 million.
“As of last night I started drafting my legal action against Dr Rowley for defamation,” Ramlogan said. “I have also started researching the law of criminal libel to see if a criminal offence has been committed, and I have also started looking into the Integrity in Public Life Act to see if there was some duty on the part of Dr Rowley to at least run this document by an IT expert before dropping this bombshell in Parliament.”
“Six months he had this document and he didn’t pass it to the Commissioner of Police for an investigation? Let us not forget it was the honourable Prime Minister, after Dr Rowley made these allegations in Parliament, who immediately demanded that the police investigate this matter, and we were the ones who referred it to the Commissioner of Police to be investigated.”
Ramlogan saidt he had used his own private funds and had spared no expense in his pursuit of Google because he knew he would be reimbursed by Dr Rowley.
“When I sue for defamation, all my legal bills will be claimed as special damages, so I’ve spared no expense to hire the best lawyers money could buy because I know full well that money will be returned to me and Dr Rowley will have to end up paying my legal bill.”
Ramlogan said he is exercising his right to protect and defend his reputation that he had worked hard to build throughout his lifetime. The AG said a specific figure could not be pinpointed at the time but, “having regard to the nature of the allegation, I would anticipate that in a matter like this, a claim for damages for libel would exceed a million dollars.”
On May 20, 2013 Rowley presented in Parliament a thread of e-mails which he said implicated the Prime Minister and the Attorney General in “high crime”, “misbehaviour of public office” and a massive cover up. Rowley quoted from emails between “firstname.lastname@example.org” and “email@example.com” believed to belong to Ramlogan and the Prime Minister respectively. The emails revealed a conspiracy against the Director of Public Prosecutions, a plot to harm reporter Denyse Renne and the payment of monies in return for the freedom of an unnamed person.
On Sunday Ramlogan held a press conference in which he produced the certified affidavit from Google which he said proved that the series of emails presented by Dr. Rowley were “fake.” The affidavit signed by Google’s custodian of records Chi Nguyen stated that no information was found relating to the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org”.
Ramlogan said Google provided all the e-mails between himself and Persad-Bissessar from September 1 to 30, 2012 and nothing resembling the emails Rowley presented was found.
In an interview in yesterday’s Express, People’s National Movement public relations officer Faris Al-Rawi said it was “curious” that Ramlogan chose a Sunday evening to disclose the contents of the Google report. He said Ramlogan’s announcement would dominate media reports and was intended to distract the public away from the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014 which is to be debated in the Senate today. He urged the public not to be fooled by this “charade”.
Subsequently to the news conference which took place in the morning, in a telephone interview yesterday, Ramlogan called Al-Rawi’s statement “desperate”.
“That is a desperate argument designed to save face and do impossible damage control,” he said.
As to why he made the announcement on Sunday and not on a weekday, Ramlogan said it was a case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”
“I held the press conference at the earliest available opportunity because of the serious nature of the allegations. Had I waited until today (Monday), they would have then criticised me for delaying and asked why I didn’t immediately call a press conference to vindicate myself and proclaim my innocence and demonstrate that I have been cleared of wrongdoing,” Ramlogan said.
Al-Rawi also said on Sunday that Google’s report was “tailor-made” to what Ramlogan asked them to look for and that Google only checked the e-mails which were sent between September 1 and 30, 2012. He said the public is unaware whether e-mails could have been sent prior or subsequent to this period.
In response to this Ramlogan said: “I would expect the PNM to keep shifting the goalpost so that you can never disprove the guilt even if you establish your innocence.”