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Gafoor/Phelps back to court with an appeal
Almost two weeks after her constitutional motion against President George Maxwell Richards was dismissed, attorneys representing suspended Integrity Commission deputy chairman Gladys Gafoor returned to the High Court yesterday for hearing of another lawsuit—this time challenging her fellow commissioners. During yesterday’s hearing in the Port-of-Spain High Court before Justice Vasheist Kokaram, Gafoor’s lawyer Clive Phelps made an application to have several sections of five affidavits struck out from the evidence in the matter. The affidavits were those of the attorney Gerald Ramdeen, the commission’s registrar Martin Farrell and commissioners Ken Gordon (chairman), Prof Ann-Marie Bissessar and Neil Rolingson. The commission’s attorney Deborah Peake, SC, said the affidavits sought to defend allegations and respond to claims made by Gafoor in her evidence.
Phelps claimed some of the evidence was irrelevant, prejudicial and were opinions. He submitted that Ramdeen’s entire document be struck out. Kokaram agreed with Phelps’ submission and ruled that certain parts of the document be removed as they had no bearing on the case. Peake opposed Kokaram’s ruling and stated that the commission would file a procedural appeal to the Court of Appeal challenging the judgment. In her lawsuit, Gafoor is challenging a decision taken by the commission on December 21, last year, which forced her to recuse herself from an investigation involving former attorney general John Jeremie. Gafoor, in her claim, says that her fellow commissioners’ decision was biased. Both attorneys agreed that the trial in the matter could not start until the issue of the evidence was addressed.
Kokaram adjourned the matter to October 15, at which time the appeal is expected to be heard and decided upon in time for trial in late October or early November. Parallel to her judicial review was the Constitutional motion against Richards’ decision earlier this year to appoint a special tribunal to hear allegations leveled against Gafoor by her fellow commissioners. On July 13, Kokaram delivered an 87- page judgment in the matter in which he dismissed Gafoor’s claim and said the President acted fairly and that he did not breach her Constitutional rights in appointing the tribunal. Gafoor filed an appeal of the decision last Thursday. In light of Kokaram’s judgment, the three-member tribunal is now expected to meet on the issue. The tribunal consists of retired Caribbean Court of Justice president Michael de la Bastide, Appeal Court Judge Humphrey Stollmeyer and High Court Judge Maureen Rajnauth-Lee.
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