The probe to determine who leaked the witness statement of former CL Financial chairman Lawrence Duprey to Express political editor Ria Taitt was dropped at the Commission of Enquiry into the collapse of CL Financial and the Hindu Credit Union yesterday.
Lone commissioner of the enquiry, Sir Anthony Colman, agreed with the submission of lead counsel to the enquiry, Queen's Counsel Peter Carter, that it would be "unsatisfactory" if the enquiry got "bogged down" with an investigation to determine Taitt's source.
On Wednesday, the Express exclusively published an article entitled "I did nothing wrong" written by Taitt which detailed several aspects of Duprey's witness statement to the Commission of Enquiry.
Duprey has featured prominently in the testimony of several witnesses who have appeared at the enquiry so far.
Duprey filed the witness statement on Monday.
The issue of the witness statement being divulged by the Express was raised by one of Duprey's attorneys, Lionel Luckhoo, on Wednesday, the day Taitt's article was published.
Colman then launched an investigation to determine Taitt's source.
On Thursday, Taitt appeared at the enquiry with Express attorney Faarees Hosein in response to a request made by Colman on Wednesday.
Colman asked Hosein then if he had any knowledge as to who caused the "diametric breach" of the commission's confidentiality clause.
Hosein said Taitt had declined to "name or identify her source".
After being unable to ascertain her source by individually questioning each legal team representing parties at the enquiry, Colman called on Taitt to appear at the enquiry yesterday.
Around 12.53 p.m. yesterday, Taitt, accompanied by Hosein, Express editor-in-chief Omatie Lyder and former Express columnist Dr Sheila Rampersad, walked into the courtroom at the Winsure building in Port of Spain.
Former president of Clico Investment Bank (CIB), Richard Trotman, was on the witness stand at the time of their arrival.
Around 1 p.m., Colman adjourned Trotman's testimony in order to address the issue with Taitt.
Carter then called on Colman to drop the probe against Taitt.
"The question is whether it is appropriate bearing in mind the stern rebuke you gave (Thursday), whether it is appropriate or necessary for the commission to embark upon what will effectively be an enquiry within an enquiry," Carter said.
"I will suggest, Sir, that given the indication by Mr Hosein who told us (Thursday) that Miss Taitt will do as responsible journalists universally do, which is refuse to answer the pointed question 'who is your source', there is no point in putting her through that endurance for no particular purpose," he said.
Carter also praised the local media for their "consistently good, accurate and responsible" coverage of the enquiry.
"The press have been, with this possible exception, and I say possible exception because we do not know the circumstances, have been consistently good, accurate and responsible in the way they are reporting the proceedings and the background to these proceedings," Carter said.
Carter suggested that if an investigation was to pursued to determine Taitt's source it should be done by those responsible for the country's "administration of justice".
"I suggest, Sir, that there is not really much point in us spending extra time in exploring this and if the matter is to be taken further it should be taken further by those responsible with the administration of justice generally in this country," Carter said.
Colman agreed with Carter that it would be "unsatisfactory" if the enquiry got "bogged down" with an investigation to determine Taitt's source.
He, however, called on all media houses to undertake not to publish statements before the witness in question appears at the enquiry.
"I want to make it clear the need for that undertaking is of considerable importance because putting a witness statement in the public domain which has not been the subject of evidence puts not only the witness in a prejudicial position but puts other parties in a prejudicial position," Colman said.
Colman said the enquiry would run into "no end of trouble" if that undertaking is not adhered to.
Carter said there was a reason why statements were kept confidential before the witness appears.
"It may contain information which may be the subject of an application by the person producing the witness statement not to have certain documents made public for reasons of safety and confidentiality," Carter said.
Carter said it was only Colman as lone commissioner who could determine what should be made public.