Senior counsel: Israel B Khan

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Probe will show it was a fabrication

Israel Khan writes Integrity Commission on emailgate:

By By Irene Medina Associate Editor

Senior Counsel Israel Khan in a legal letter to the Integrity Commission (IC) is questioning the grounds on which it is conducting its investigations into Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in the emailgate matter.  

He told the Commission that any investigation into a complaint by Opposition Leader, Dr Keith Rowley against his client would prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was a “fabrication”.

Khan’s three-page-long letter to the Integrity Commission’s Registrar Martin Farrell on October 4 is the latest development in the five-month long probe into questionable “emails” linking the prime minister and two of her Cabinet ministers to an alleged criminal conspiracy against the Judiciary, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the media and the Office of the Opposition Leader.

Email addresses purportedly belonging to Persad-Bissessar, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Works and Infrastructure Minister Surujrattan Rambachan, and former security adviser, now Minister of National Security Gary Griffith, were allegedly being used to convey messages to one another during the  height of the Section 34 debate  in September last year. 

Rowley revealed the “emails” in Parliament on May 20 this year. A police probe was initiated shortly after by Persad-Bissessar.

Khan’s letter cited Section 5 (1) (f) of the Integrity in Public Life Act (IPLA) as he questioned whether the Commission initiated the probe, because it considers Persad-Bissessar’s conduct “dishonest or conducive to corruption”.

Section 5(1) (f) of the Integrity in Public Life Act (IPLA), which identifies the powers and functions of the Commission,  states that: “The Commission shall investigate the conduct of any person falling under the purview of the Commission which, in the opinion of the Commission, may be considered dishonest or conducive to corruption.”

Khan’s letter was in response to a “missive” sent to Persad-Bissessar by the IC on September 19,  requesting that she writes to email provider Google Inc, authorising the company to release to the Commission a “true copy” of all communication to and from an email account kamlapb1@gmail.com for the month of September 2012. 

It is now almost a month since the Commission’s request but Khan’s has made it clear he will not advise his client to go forward until all of his queries are addressed.   

Khan first wants the Commission to state whether it was “initiating this investigation on its own motion or upon the complaint of a member of the public?”

He also made reference to a letter dated July, 17, 2013, signed by Lisa Phillips, acting Registrar of the Commission indicating that its chairman Ken Gordon had indicated that he would recuse himself from participating in any deliberations or decision regarding any investigation into a document received from former president, George Maxwell Richards on March 6, 2013 purporting to be emails in which it suggested certain persons in public life may have breached the law.

In light of this statement, Khan asked the Commission to state whether “Gordon recuse(d) himself from the decision to conduct an investigation in this matter?”

The Sunday Express was unable to reach Gordon for comment yesterday. 

Khan reminded the Commission that while in fact, there is an ongoing police probe, it is “not a criminal investigation because there are no reasonable grounds to suspect that the allegations made against the Hon Prime Minister are grounded in law or on fact”.

“Having regards to these facts,” he questioned, “What is the basis in law for the Commission conducting an investigation into the Email Affair?”

Khan also sought clarification on what exactly is the Commission investigating.

“Is it investigating a complaint (as envisage by Section 5 (1) (e) chap 22:01 made by Dr. Keith Rowley in his capacity as the Leader of the Opposition or his personal private capacity as a member of the Public?”

Section 5 (1) (e) chap 22:01 indicates that the IC shall “receive and investigate complaints regarding any breaches of this Act or the commission of any offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act”;

“I need to obtain answers to my queries in order to render legal advice to my client, regarding your requests,” Khan told the Commission. 

He also placed on “record” that he believes any investigation into Rowley’s complaint against his client “would prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the document revealed in Parliament was a fabrication,” arguing, therefore, there is “no basis to investigate the conduct” of the prime minister. 

He said as far as Rowley’s complaint is concerned, it is of interest to note whether it was done so as a member of the public or as Leader of the Opposition, and cautioned that Section 34 (a) (1) (c) and (d) state that the Commission on receipt of a complaint can reject, after examining, if it is of the opinion the complaint is devoid of sufficient grounds for investigation or is not supported by evidence of a probative value. 

Khan said while “we” are willing to assist, “we need answers to my queries.” 

This is not the first time that both sides have reached a stalemate. The police investigation is also at a standstill. 

Still in the face of this delay, the Express reported last week that a report confirming a breach to the security of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was submitted to Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams indicating there was evidence of a laser beam on the walls of the conference room of the DPP’s office. 

Another report indicated that the former head of security firm Executive Bodyguard Services Ltd (EBSL) Samuel Stafford was questioned at police headquarters last week. His firm which was bought by a supporter of the government had received a contract to provide security to the DPP’s office.

 

Following is the full 

text of Khan’s letter:

 

October 4, 2013.

 

Mr. Martin Farrell,

Registrar,

The Integrity Commission of Trinidad and Tobago,

4th Floor, UTC Financial Centre,

82 Independence Square,

PORT OF SPAIN.

 

Dear Sir,

Re:  Your letter dated September 19, 2013 to the Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago under your reference: Investigation into the alleged Email affair.

Please be advised that I am of Counsel for the Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC in the abovereferenced matter. (See copy of Prime Minister’s letter to me in this regard).

I note that you stated in your missive dated September 19, 2013 to the Hon. Prime Minister that “The Commission requests that you write to the email provider Google Inc., authorizing them to release to the Integrity Commission of Trinidad and Tobago, a true copy of all communication to and from the account kamlapb1@gmail.com for the month of September, 2012.

 

In order to respond to your request as indicated above we need to know the following:

 

1. As contemplated by Section 33 chap. 22:01 of the Integrity in Public Life Act is “The Commission” initiating this investigation on its own motion or upon the complaint of a member of the public?

 

2. I acknowledged your letter dated 2013 July 17 signed by Lisa Phillips acting Registrar of The Integrity Commission [IC 4 (1) 151] that Mr. Kenneth Gordon, Chairman of The Integrity Commission has indicated that he will recuse himself from participating in any deliberations or decision regarding any investigation The Commission may undertake into a document received from former President, Mr. George Maxwell Richards on March 6, 2013  purporting to be emails in which it is suggested that certain persons in public life/persons exercising public functions may have breached the provision of the Integrity in Public Life Act, chapter 20:01. Did Mr Kenneth Gordon recuse himself from the decision to conduct an investigation in this matter?

 

3. The Integrity Commission is quite aware that there is an ongoing probe by the police into this matter: Not a criminal investigation because there are no reasonable grounds to suspect that the allegations made against the Honourable Prime Minister are grounded in law or on facts. Thus having regard to these facts what is the basis in law for The Commission “conducting an investigation into the “Email affair”.

 

4. What is The Commission embarking upon? Is it investigating a complaint (as envisage by Section 5(1) (e) chap. 22:01) made by Dr. Keith Rowley in his capacity as the Leader of the Opposition or his personal private capacity as a member of the Public?

 

5. Having regard to Section 5(1) (f), is The Commission investigating the conduct of the Hon. Prime Minister, because the Commission considers in its own opinion that her conduct may be dishonest or conducive to corruption.

 

I need to obtain answers to my queries in order to render legal advice to my client, the Hon. Prime Minister regarding your requests.

 

I wish to place on record that an investigation into the complaint made by Dr. Keith Rowley against my client would prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the document revealed in Parliament was a fabrication. Thus on his complaint there is no basis to investigate the conduct of the Hon. Prime Minister as contemplated by Section 5(1) (f) chap. 22:01.

 

It is of interest to note, as far as Dr. Keith Rowley’s complaint is concerned, whether qua member of the Public or qua Leader of the Opposition, Section 34 (a) (1), (c) and (d) states:

 

The Commission may, on receipt of a complaint and after examining same, reject the complaint if the Commission is of the opinion that the complaint:

 

(a) …………………………..

 

(b) …………………………...

 

(c) Is devoid of sufficient grounds for an investigation; or

 

(d) Is not supported by evidence of probative value.

 

The condition precedent for investigating the Hon. Prime Minister’s conduct as contemplated by section 5(1) (f) chap. 22:01 is that the commission must arrive at the opinion that the conduct of the Hon. Prime Minister may be considered dishonest or conducive to corruption.

 

We stand ready and willing to assist The Integrity Commission in this matter but we need answers to my queries.

 

Much Obliged,

Justice For All,

Israel B Khan SC

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