Attorney representing Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in the controversial emailgate probe, Israel Khan SC, says he is anxious to know what information the Integrity Commission (IC) has received from an international electronic mail service provider regarding his client.
Persad-Bissessar, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Local Government Minister Suruj Rambachan and National Security adviser Gary Griffith are under investigation by the police in connection with a thread of 31 alleged e-mails generated during the Section 34 fiasco in September last year.
The “e-mails”, which were disclosed in the Parliament by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley during a motion of no confidence in the Government on May 20, have linked the four to an alleged conspiracy to undermine key institutions of the State, including the Judiciary, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Opposition, and the media.
Yesterday Khan said he was not surprised by the commission’s decision to investigate the e-mails.
“We all knew from the very beginning that such allegations could have been investigated by the Integrity Commission,” he said.
He added it was also expected that the commission’s chairman, Ken Gordon, would have recused himself, given the fact that he met with the Opposition Leader on the matter prior to his disclosure in the Parliament.
Khan, acting on his client’s behalf, wrote to Gordon on July 12, requesting that he step away from the probe.
This position was also adopted by the attorney representing the Attorney General, Dana Seetahal SC, who had also written to the registrar of the commission on July 15.
Khan said, “I take it for what it is worth that he will step aside and will have no contact with other commissioners while this matter is investigated. I take that for granted.”
A statement from the commission has already stated that Gordon will not be taking part in the investigation.
Khan said he was “anxious to know what information the commission got from (the) international provider”.
“How could they get it, and the police did not get it?” he asked. The police investigation, which was mandated by the Prime Minister, is being headed by Deputy Commissioner of Police Mervyn Richardson.
Richardson has told the media on several occasions that after more than two months, he is yet to get a response from the international providers, Microsoft and Google, about the authenticity of the e-mails under probe.
Khan said that while the Prime Minister had offered to waive her rights to privacy and allow the international service providers to reveal information about her e-mails to the police, the commission had not contacted him or his client.
“So apparently they got something on their own. At this stage I am not clear as to what they got, and while it would suggest that they got some kind of information to proceed, this may not necessarily be so.”
Khan said he will “await further instructions from my client to decide how to go ahead”.
Considering the various scenarios that could occur now that the commission was involved in its own investigation, Khan said: “It would be alarming or curious if they (the Commission) ask the police to hand over the information they have on the matter.
“While they can ask the police for assistance, the police could very well take the position that this is an independent investigation and we will pursue our own investigation.”
Khan contends that “this is uncharted water”.
He said he was a bit surprised the commission did not take the position that it would allow the police to carry on and then see what they came up with.
At the end of the day, “If the Integrity Commission finds there is a prima facie case, it will have to send the matter to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions who will have to instruct the police to investigate,” he said.
Khan said he did not think the commission will request any of the electronic devices purported to have been used by Government officials in the transference of the “e-mails”.
“I don’t think they will be focusing on any electronic devices. What they will be looking to see is whether the conversations took place. They must first determine that there was a breach of the Integrity in Public Life Act,” he said.
Khan conceded, “It is a very sensitive area, which will bring into play issues under the Doctrine of Separation of Powers, since the Prime Minister heads the National Security Council that advises the security of the State.”