OPPOSITION Leader Keith Rowley has said that Attorney General Anand Ramlogan is a witness in an investigation involving his ministry and lawyers in prison litigation, and therefore cannot conduct the enquiry.
Rowley said he was even more concerned about the information from the Master of the Court, Patricia Sobion-Awai in her ruling on February 4, rather than the letter written by former solicitor general Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell “that something has happened to create suspicion”.
Rowley made the statements at a leadership campaign meeting on Harris Promenade, San Fernando, on Thursday night. The People’s National Movement (PNM) internal elections take place on May 18 and Rowley is being challenged by former senator Pennelope Beckles-Robinson.
On August 30, 2013, then solicitor general Donaldson-Honeywell bypassed line minister Ramlogan and wrote to Persad-Bissessar, suggesting a three-pronged investigation by the Inspector of Prisons, the Law Association and the Police Service be undertaken to determine whether attorneys involved in prison litigation are engaged in an “unethical business venture” which “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”.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Persad-Bissessar said she has forwarded the letter to Ramlogan to address the contents, and has advised him to meet with the acting Solicitor General, the Commissioner of Prisons, the Minister of Justice and the Chief State Solicitor to address concerns raised.
Rowley said on Thursday, “He (Ramlogan) is saying to us the people of Trinidad and Tobago, thanks to Kamla Persad-Bissessar, he must be allowed to conduct a serious investigation against his own lawyers on allegations of the most serious kind of professional misconduct. A finding made by the master of the court, a judicial officer in another arm of the State. He is saying that because he is AG, Senior Counsel, that he must be allowed to pretend to investigate that. The PNM will have none of that.”
Rowley said the allegations involve the payment of claims made to the courts.
“It is a business. That is what the master of the court says. A business venture appears to be operating in the attorney general’s office and whether he is personally involved or not, he is not the person to investigate that. And if his personal lawyers did the work, he is not the person to investigate them. And if he has anything to do at all with settling any one of those cases, he is not the person to investigate since he is the only person who can authorise a settlement.
“He (Ramlogan) is a witness in the matter because the investigator will have to ask him certain questions,” he said.
Rowley also said, “I am concerned about the information that came from the Master of the Court as a finding and as proof that something has happened to create suspicion. In short she is saying there ought to be an investigation. Why is Kamla Persad-Bissessar so afraid of an investigation? I think they are afraid that they will find something that will put an end to all of them.”
“If it turns out that the conflict we are talking about actually exists then that is the end of the AG in public office”, said Rowley. “And if it turns out a criminal empire is operating there unknown to him because he was too busy, that is a dereliction of office and he should be out of office”.
Rowley said there was an attorney who had already been paid $40 million in taxpayers money from briefs given to him by the Attorney General’s office.