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Section 4(5) of the Integrity in Public Life Act
says: "A person shall not be qualified to hold
office as a member of the commission where he
is a person in public life or a person exercising a
Attorney Faris Al-Rawi, a PNM Senator, said
the commission could still function but to a
He said the commission could still conduct
investigations but when it came to decision-
making it was handicapped, especially since
Ventour held a critical role.
"Even though the constitution of the
commission itself is prejudiced it is possible that
work continuing in the commission will proceed.
"The ability to make decisions may become
difficult and we hope that the work of the
commission would not be stymied by any undue
delay in the appointment of an appropriate
person," Al-Rawi added.
For years the Integrity Commission has been
mired in controversy:
• 2009: Chairman John Martin and all the
commissioners resigned in the wake of a
damning High Court judgment which found it
had acted in bad faith and was guilty of
misfeasance in connection with a report which
led to a criminal investigation of Diego Martin
West MP Dr Keith Rowley's role in the Landate
The court ruled the commission should have
given Rowley a hearing before referring the
matter to the DPP.
• 2011: The cloud of controversy continued
when within hours of its formation, retired
Justice of Appeal Zainool Hosein resigned,
saying he had been promised the post of deputy
chairman but it was instead given to Jeffrey
• A week later, its chairman Fr Henry Charles
(now deceased) discovered he could not serve
on the commission according to canon law and
was forced to quit. He also revealed he had
plagiarised the work of two writers in his T&T
•Dr Eric St Cyr relinquished his position as
chairman after Udecott chairman Jearlean John
threatened legal action because he incorrectly
and prematurely told a reporter the commission
was investigating John.
• 2012: Gladys Gafoor was suspended by
former president Maxwell Richards as deputy
chairman. She challenged the move in court but
• 2013: The commission's current chairman
Ken Gordon found himself in controversy for
having a private meeting at his home with
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley relating to
the emailgate investigation. Gordon has
maintained he did nothing wrong.
Friday, February 7, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Integrity body in tailspin again
for 06th FEBRUARY, 2014
The Integrity Commission has been
thrown into a tailspin yet again, this time
by the resignation of its deputy chairman,
former High Court Judge Sebastian Ven-
tour, who served for only seven months
on the commission.
This means that President Anthony Car-
mona may have to search for another can-
didate to fill the post of deputy chairman.
Ventour, who retired in 2012, was appoint-
ed a judge for yesterday only, as he had to
deliver three outstanding judgements,
including one in a case involving Mora Ven
holdings Ltd versus Krishna Persad and
In his letter of resignation, Ventour
explained that as a member of the com-
mission, he was prevented by law from
delivering the judgments.
The Office of the President issued a release
yesterday to say that the President swore
in Ventour as a temporary judge yesterday,
on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Serv-
ices Commission (JLSC), after he resigned
from the Integrity Commission on Wednes-
day. The JLSC is headed by the Chief Justice.
Ventour s resignation means the work of
the commission has been halted as there is
no one with a legal background to constitute
the commission s board.
Key investigations could be temporarily
suspended, such as the e-mail probe and
a request by the Opposition to probe Attor-
ney General Anand Ramlogan s purchase of
two Range Rover SUVs using tax exemptions
as a state official.
Questions have also been raised over Ven-
tour s locus standi for writing judgments,
since he retired from the bench in 2012.
Concerns were also raised over whether
Ventour may not only have breached the
code of ethics for judges but also have con-
travened the regulations for members of
In response to the developments, chair-
man of the Integrity Commission Ken Gor-
don said the work of the commission would
not be affected because of Ventour s res-
Gordon said in 2013 when Gladys Gafoor,
then deputy chairman of the commission
was suspended the commission continued
"I am assuring you that the commission
can do other things apart from meeting,
(like) the other supporting things (such as)
preparation and so on, that s how we handled
it last year," he added.
Gordon said he expected President Antho-
ny Carmona to act promptly on the reap-
pointment of a commissioner.
Asked whether Ventour doing judicial
work while still working in the commission
could be considered to a conflict of interest,
Gordon said: "I think that s an assumption
which is not quite correct. They (the cases)
were prepared but the point is that he could-
n t deliver them."
Gordon said he was optimistic that Ven-
tour would be re-appointed to the com-
mission within a matter of days. Asked
whether he believed the image of the com-
mission was tarnished due to Ventour s res-
ignation, he said: "Absolutely no way."
--- with reporting by Nadaleen Singh
After seven months
deputy chairman quits
Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal said
Ventour's temporary appointment should
have been made immediately after he left
the bench so that he could complete the
"The sequence of events suggests he
was made a temporary judge only for the
purpose of the delivering the judgments,
which suggests that prior to his
reappointment, he must have been
deliberating and contemplating these
judgments, which is the work of a judge,"
she pointed out.
"That means he would have been doing
that when he was a member of the
commission which law does not permit a
judge to sit as a one of its members,"
Saying the matter needed to be
explained immediately, Seetahal
maintained no one should be doing the
work of a judge when in fact they were
"Secondly, doing the work of a judge
when that person is a member of the
Integrity Commission, I would expect the
Judiciary explains this, as it is not the
first time that a retired judge has been
appointed as a temporary judge to deliver
judgments, and the same questions
keep arising," Seetahal added.
She recommended that a proper
extension should be granted immediately
after a judge retired so he or she could
complete outstanding judgments.
Echoing Seetahal's view, Attorney
General Anand General said it was "not
desirable" for a judge who has retired
subsequently to deliver a judgment and
every effort must be made to ensure that
judgments are delivered during the
tenure of judges.
Describing Ventour's resignation as a
"complete shock and disappointment,"
Ramlogan said it had left a void at a time
when the commission was stabilising in
the aftermath of so many fumbles and
Ventour was sworn in on July 1, 2013
to serve on the commission.
At that time questions arose as to
whether or not there was a conflict of
interest, as Ventour was serving on the
commission and held a government
posting on the Constitutional Reform
He stepped down from that
commission the following month.
Flashback June 30, 2013: Retired High Court Judge, Sebastian Ventour receives his letter
of appointment to serve as deputy chairman of the Integrity Commission from President
Anthony Carmona during the swearing in ceremony at the Office of President, St Ann's.
What the law says
QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED
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