Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 20th 2013 Contents A20
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, July 20, 2013
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(2) The Guardian of May 24: "The
Prime Minister and Attorney General
say the IC's powers do not extend to
criminal matters such as those which
may arise out of the issues in the e-
(3) Newsday of May 25: "Attorney
General Anand Ramlogan, at the weekly
post-Cabinet press briefing, said the
Integrity Commission does not have
powers under its statute to probe
criminal offences such as murder. Prime
Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on
Wednesday said the Commission, as a
creature of statute, is not able to
investigate matters beyond its remit."
Contrary to the Attorney General's
statement that the Integrity
Commission had no jurisdiction in this
matter, the conflict on this issue could
hardly be more clearly spelt out.
Attached as an appendix is an extract
from Hansard which also quotes Prime
Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar's
It was considered desirable to release
the information given in the opinion to
clear up the widespread uncertainty, as
a matter of public information. You may
recall that we also sought permission
from another Senior Counsel some
months earlier to make sections of his
opinion available to the complainant at
the time of the matter related to the
Prime Minister's sister Vidwatie
There was no complaint at that time
on any front.
This was done in response to a
request from public commentators for
more information about the basis on
which the commission's decision was
made. It was emphasised to Senior
Counsel at the time that this was likely
to be passed to the media. It was, and
was published in the media. In both
instances the information released was
restricted to the conclusions of the
This appeared to be a welcome
development and it is now part of the
practice of the commission to share
more information with the public
wherever this is consistent with our
policy particularly on national issues.
Moreover there was a clear onus on
the commission's secretariat to have the
issue of jurisdiction cleared up as part of
its preparation for the incoming
Why did the Integrity Commission
publish the summary of Peake's
There were strong differences
between the Prime Minister, Attorney
General and the Opposition about
whether or not this matter fell within
the jurisdiction of the commission. (See
Hansard quote page 140-141. Also quote
PM from Hansard statement.) So the
issue of jurisdiction became one of
national importance. It is part of the
remit of the Integrity Commission under
its public education programme to
address such matters.
Meeting held in the dead of night like
The meeting commenced at
approximately 6.15 pm and ended at
approximately 6.30 pm.
Why do you believe you should not
tender your resignation?
Part II Section 5 (2)(a) and (c) [of the
act] make it clear that the Integrity
Commission is not subject to the
direction or control of any other persons
or authority and that it has the power to
do what it considers necessary or
expedient. It must also be understood
that whether or not a "constituted"
commission had existed on May 15, the
day of the meeting, the identical
circumstances could have occurred.
My response would almost certainly
have been the same except that I might
have immediately called one or other of
the commissioners on the phone on Dr
Without the full commission in place I
did the next best thing and immediately
wrote an Aide Memoire which was
typed the following day.
For the record, let me state that the
act of resignation holds no dragons for
me. I have resigned from four previous
national appointments under three
different governments. In each instance
it was a principled position against what
I considered to be wrong. These are all
matters of record.
What I will not do is to be stampeded
into taking such action for the wrong
Holders of offices such as
Commissioners of the Integrity
Commission are required to be
independent and strong and should not
bow to public pressure to step down
especially when it comes from those
with political agendas, whatever the
persuasion. To do so would be to
compromise the independence of the
Did Dr Rowley mislead you and lead
you into a trap?
Not at all. He was brief and to the
point and so was I.
In fact my response to him that the
matter was not before the commission
because the commission was not as yet
constituted was not news. That was
public knowledge and I had made similar
public references earlier when explaining
the status quo.
The meeting lasted no more than 15
minutes from beginning to end
Was the meeting in violation of the
ethical rules that guide the
Most certainly not.
Will this controversy discourage
prospective commissioners from joining
There will always be controversy
surrounding the work of Integrity
Commissions for its decisions affect the
lives of people.
In the end the commission will earn
respect if it is consistently fair.
Unfortunately some in society use these
differences to promote partisan
If prospective commissioners are not
prepared to accept this tough but
necessary responsibility they should not
make themselves available for office.
If the circumstances were repeated
tomorrow would you act differently?
What I would do differently is to
ensure that I had a fuller understanding
of the nature of the urgency which
existed before arranging the meeting
that afternoon. Equally in the light of
what has transpired I would do
everything possible to ensure that I had
a clearly spelt out remit for the office of
Would you recuse yourself from this
matter if it comes before the
Our former commission decided that
good corporate governance should be
the bench mark for the practices of the
commission, and has been guided by
such principles. Recusal is a matter
which has implications for the full
commission and this has been
reinforced by Justice Kokaram's recent
Our former commission has been
guided by the importance of public
perception in all matters of recusal and I
feel certain that the new commission
will be similarly guided.
On the occasion when the
commission took a decision on recusal
the High Court gave useful guidance to
the commission for the future. Public
perception will therefore be an
important part of any decision the
commission takes on recusal.
Having said that let me add that I
recused myself from this matter at the
very first meeting of the new
commission on July 4, 2013 some eight
days before any request that I do so
Mrs Gafoor has made a number of
uncomplimentary remarks about you.
Will you respond?
I have no comment to make about
this good lady. Justice Kokaram's
judgment in the matters she brought
against the Integrity Commission last
year says all that needs to be said.
Continues from page A18
'Act of resignation holds no dragons for me'
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