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Reporter summoned to reveal source of story (with CNC3 video)
Who supplied Express reporter Ria Taitt with a copy of the 50-page witness statement of former CL Financial (CLF) executive chairman Lawrence Duprey? That was the question Sir Anthony Colman posed to several lawyers representing different parties in the Clico/Hindu Credit Union Commission of Enquiry when sitting resumed at Winsure Building, Richmond Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. Wednesday’s sitting was cancelled.
Senior counsel Rajiv Persad, one of Duprey’s attorneys, told Colman neither he nor fellow attorney Lionel Luckhoo had provided Taitt with Duprey’s witness statement, which formed the basis of the Express lead article on Wednesday, headlined, “I Did Nothing Wrong.”
“I have no reason to believe leading counsel would have done that,” Persad said to Colman, referring to Luckhoo. Colman asked individual attorneys, including Ian Benjamin, appearing for the Central Bank, Terrence Bharath, representing the Clico Policyholders Group, and Neal Bisnath, whose client is Clico, whether they were the source which leaked the witness statement to the newspaper. They all said no.
To the statement that the only possible source of the document was either Duprey or those who represent him, Persad said neither he nor Luckhoo was responsible. Taitt, who was at the enquiry yesterday, was represented by attorney Farees Hosein. Colman ruled that Taitt must reappear before the commission this morning.
The commissioner said the article, “almost without exception, sought to represent Duprey in the most favourable light possible.” Sir Anthony also sought clarification on an article appearing in Monday’s Express, headlined: “Permell: US$295m deal sank CL Financial,” in which Peter Permell, spokesman for the Clico Policyholders Group spoke of the Florida-based, 60-acre Green Island transaction.
The English Queen’s Counsel said the article gave the impression that he would be meeting with the Clico Policyholders Group. “This enquiry does not operate on the basis of meetings with me and interested parties. It only operates on the basis of public hearings,” he said.
He asked Permell about the impression given in the article that he would be meeting with the group, to which Permell said the group meant it would be meeting with the attorneys for the enquiry, and not Colman himself. Colman said the media reporting of the hearings had been “Right, again, again and again.”
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