Under President Noor Hassanali’s two terms in office and President ANR Robinson’s, the Integrity Commission saw the tenure in office of Former Judge, George Collymore and Retired Justice of Appeal, Gerard des Iles as Chairmen, totaling 15 years(1988-2003) and representing stability. n President George Maxwell Richards assumes office in 2003 and breaks with tradition and appoints Insurance Executive Deane as Chairman of the Integrity Commission.
At this time, the Integrity Commission referred the Landate Matter involving Dr Keith Rowley to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Chairman Deane recused himself in this matter.
A High Court lawsuit revealed that the Commissioners of the Integrity Commission wrote to then Prime Minister, Patrick Manning asking how it should proceed in the matter.
Deane, resigns as Chairman of the Integrity Commission and President George Maxwell Richards continues in his new tradition and appoints another non-legal officer to Chair the Commission in the form of Businessman and Former Director at Clico, John Martin.
Under John Martin as Chairman, the High Court ruling in the Landate matter found that the Commission was guilty of “tort of misfeasance” when it prematurely referred the Landate matter prematurely to DPP, and as a result all commissioners including the learned and experienced judicial officer, Justice Monica Barnes resigned.
There is a lull and no Commission is appointed between January 2009 and May 2009, when President George Maxwell Richards appointed another non-legal officer to Chair the Commission in the form of Roman Catholic Cleric, Fr Henry Charles. His appointment lasted 1 week after it was discovered he could not serve the Commission according to Canon Law. In addition Fr Charles admitted to plagiarism in one of his columns. How is that possible when Fr Charles has a degree in Ethics from the Famous Yale University?
In 2010, President continued the trend of appointing non-legal officers and as such appointed UWI Economist, Dr Eric St Cyr.
St Cyr resigns amidst controversy of his propensity to comment on matters before the Commission in October 2011.
In November 2011, President George Richards appoints another non-legal officer to Chair the Commission by appointing Business Mogul, Ken Gordon. From 2003-2011, the Integrity Commission has had a total of 5 Chairmen, all demitting office due to imbroglio. The current Chairman in under 90 days, has cause the commission to be once again engulfed in a spate of unfavourable circumstances. What we really need to take a look at is what is the underpinning problem in this situation? We may need to ask ourselves why the Integrity Commission has never undergone such problems and fiascos under Presidents Noor Hassanali and ANR Robinson as evidenced by only two Chairpersons in 15 years.
Going deeper, the current administration may need to contemplate as the incumbent President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago ’s term of office expires in 6 months, finding a respectable, brilliant legal luminary to be Head of State. Former Presidents Sir Ellis Clarke, Noor Hassanali and ANR Robinson were all distinguished legal officers who served the country well. Like it or not but: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence”. John Adams, “Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials,” December 1770
US diplomat & politician (1735—1826)