Indian Arrival, Part 1
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Anand must meet with stakeholders
In the face of mounting public pressure, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has ordered Attorney General Anand Ramlogan to revisit allegations of collusion involving lawyers engaged in prison litigation.
Persad-Bissessar made the decision yesterday, calling on Ramlogan to meet with acting Solicitor General Carol Hernandez, Commissioner of Prisons Conrad Barrow, Inspector of Prisons Daniel Khan, Minister of Justice Emmanuel George and the Chief State Solicitor Christophe Grant to revisit the matter and to chart the best way forward.
Her statement came even as the Law Association and Association of Law Officers added its voice to the list of those calling for an independent probe into allegations made by former solicitor general Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell, who expressed concern about what she called an “unethical business” venture in prison litigation matters.
Persad-Bissessar’s decision also came in the face of an ultimatum from Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley that she call a probe and order Ramlogan to step aside, or else he would launch public protests similar to that in the Section 34 matter. In a release yesterday, the PM said the decision to revisit the matter had come after Donaldson-Honeywell reiterated her call for a probe in the matter to continue and the Prison Officers’ Association also called for the same.
Noted recent issues
Persad-Bissessar said she was under the impression that when she (PM) dealt with the matter after it first raised in a letter last August by Donaldson-Honeywell, that the former solicitor general had expressed approval with how it was handled.
The PM said that was the impression she had when Donaldson-Honeywell subsequently penned a second letter which stated: "Honourable Prime Minister, your proactive attention to this matter is greatly appreciated as it underscores your recognition of the interests of those engaged in civil litigation on behalf of the State and their clients in the Prison Service.
“In light of the discussions with the Attorney General, through your intervention, I am now confident that the issues raised in my letter will be adequately addressed and accordingly would no longer seek further investigation through your office.” The PM said: “As for the objections carried in the media about my own handling of the particular report, given that the former solicitor general is of the view that the matter had been appropriately handled by me, who else could or should question her professional assessment?
“In my respectful view, the issue was treated with the urgency and seriousness required and the former solicitor general's expressed opinion validates my actions in this regard.” Notwithstanding that, the PM said she had noted Donaldson-Honeywell’s statement this week that she expected the probe to continue and the POA’s calls for it to be probed further and had advised the AG to meet with the key stakeholders to chart a way forward.