Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 22nd 2015 Contents A8
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, October 22, 2015
The Privy Council has reserved its judgment
on whether the repeal of Section 34 of the Admin-
istration of Justice (Indictable Offences) Act was
Postponing the court's decision to a date to be
decided, Lord David Neuberger yesterday said he
and his four colleagues needed time to consider
the appeal that was presented by businessmen
Ameer Edoo and Steve Ferguson and insurance
company Maritime General, who attempted to use
the law to escape prosecution for fraud related to
the construction of the Piarco International Air-
Most of yesterday's hearing was devoted to the
role of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger
Gaspard in advocating for the repeal after the early
proclamation of the clause on August 31, 2012.
Responding to claims by the trio's lawyers that
Gaspard acted improperly by attempting to influence
the outcome of his office's biggest cases, his lawyer
Ian Benjamin claimed that advocating for laws for
the improvement of the justice system was within
"The director was at all times acting within his
constitutional, statutory and common law powers
to take steps and give advice designed to restore
the confidence of the T&T public in the admin-
stration of criminal justice," Benjamin said.
Stating his client felt the legislation, which sought
to clear a backlog of cases, was ineffective, Benjamin
said: "As far as the director was concerned it had
a negligible positive effect because it only impacted
on 47 cases."
He also said his client had a responsibility to
address the public furore which followed media
reports on the potential impact of the legislation
on high profile corruption cases.
"The events gave rise to speculation and the
media went so far as to call for the Government
to explain whether it colluded to pass Section 34
in favour of the Piarco accused.
"I am not suggesting that there is any substance
in the speculation, I'm just saying it was in the
public domain," Benjamin said.
Lord Jonathan Mance appeared to agree with
Benjamin's suggestion that the case was limited to
Parliament's decision to repeal and not to whether
or not Gaspard unfairly influenced it through com-
munications with then attorney general Anand
When granted the opportunity to respond,
Michael Beloff, QC, who is representing Ferguson
and Maritime, claimed that Benjamin understated
his client's role.
"What he did was not an academic exercise. It
was a calculated effort to defeat the Piarco defen-
dants," Beloff said.
He was also dismissive of Gaspard's duty to the
"He must allay public concern but should not
be swayed by public opinion," Beloff said.
In addition to Gaspard's involvement, the trio is
also alleging that Parliament infringed on Judicial
independence as by repealing the law it removed
the court's power to determine cases already filed
The trio is among 42 persons and companies
who filed motions under the legislation which were
rendered null and void after the repeal in mid-Sep-
The majority of the applicants including several
former Government ministers are facing charges
arising out of the $1.6 billion construction project.
The controversial clause gave persons, whose trials
for specific offences had not started after 10 years
after the crime was allegedly committed, the right
to apply to have the case dismissed.
Most filed constitutional motions challenging
the repeal with the trio's cases being elected as test
cases which will determine the fate of the others.
• December 2011: The Administration of
Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act is
passed by both Houses of Parliament.
• August 31, 2012: Section 34 is
• September 9, 2012: Under the
headline "Piarco airport cases to be
dropped," T&T Guardian reports that
those charged in the Piarco Airport
corruption case may be able to have the
charges against them dropped as a
result, since the charges were laid more
than seven years previously. Among
them are UNC financiers Steve Ferguson
and Ish Galbaransingh.
• September 12, 2012: Parliament sits to
repeal Section 34.
• October 2012: 42 applicants under
Section 34 file constitutional motions
claiming their rights were infringed by its
• April 2013: Justice Mira Dean-Armorer
delivers judgment in three of
constitutional motions being used as
test cases. Dean-Armorer dismisses all
eight grounds raised by the three
• May 2013: The three applicants file
their appeal of Dean-Armorer's
• October 2013: Court of Appeal hears
submissions on the appeal for four
• June 4, 2014: Court of Appeal
dismisses the appeal, rejecting all
grounds raised by three appellants.
• October 19-21, 2015: Privy Council
hears final appeal in case and reserves
Privy Council reserves judgment in Section 34 repeal
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