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Gordon: Ventour controversy avoidable
Chairman of the Integrity Commission Ken Gordon says the public fallout over the sudden resignation and hasty re-appointment of commissioner Justice Sebastian Ventour could have been prevented if President Anthony Carmona had stated that he (Ventour) would be reappointed “later on.” In a brief telephone interview on Thursday, Gordon said the issue should not erode public confidence in the commission, but admitted that the Ventour situation “might have been handled differently.”
On February 5, Justice Ventour suddenly resigned from the Integrity Commission, stirring public outcry and triggering several media articles speculating on the fate of the commission after Ventour’s departure.
One day later, Ventour was sworn in as a temporary puisne judge of the High Court of Justice of T&T on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC). He then deliberated and delivered judgments on three outstanding matters—Mora Ven and Mora Oil Ventures Ltd (MOVL) with then-chairman George Nicholas III vs ousted chairman Krishna Persad and his company Krishna Persad and Associates Ltd (KPA); the matter of KGC Co Ltd vs Gangadeen Persad; and the legal issue between Amina Homeward vs the Attorney General of T&T.
The judiciary Web site, www.ttlawcourts.org, lists the last two judgments but has not published Ventour’s judgment on the matter between Nicholas and Persad. The media, however, did report that Nicholas was successful in that matter.
Commissioner Gordon: Move on
“If it was said at the time of his resignation that he would have been reappointed later on...that is my own view. I am not really pronouncing on that,” Gordon said. Gordon then defended Ventour’s reappointment, describing him as an “excellent commissioner.” “He had certain judgments to give. There is no precedence, many people have given judgments after serving,” Gordon said. He said Ventour’s resignation and reappointment three weeks later is a non-issue.
“Some people want to keep it alive,” he said. “One must move on,” he said. The Sunday Guardian sent several questions to President Carmona regarding the matter.
QUESTIONS TO PRESIDENT
On March 14, the Sunday Guardian sent an e-mail to the office of the President, seeking some clarification on the Ventour matter:
1. Was President Carmona aware that Justice Ventour had outstanding judgments before him and would have to resign as deputy chairman of the Integrity Commission in order to deliver them?
2. Was Justice Ventour’s appointment to the Integrity Commission made last year with the full knowledge that he (Ventour) would have to resign from the commission once another commission (the Judicial and Legal Service Commission) advised him that it was ready to have Justice Ventour reappointed as a judge in the High Court for a day in order for him to deliver three outstanding judgments?
3. Did President Carmona already decide to reappoint Justice Ventour as deputy chairman of the commission after the judgments were handed down?
To date there has been no response.
The Sunday Guardian also attempted to contact Ventour but was told that he was not available.