A legal battle is brewing over the financial information provided to Parliament last week about payment made to attorneys by the Ministry of the Attorney General for legal and other technical/profe
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AG not blocking Integrity body
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan says he welcomes the continued investigation into E-mailgate by the Integrity Commission. He made the comment yesterday as he said he was not seeking to “block” any continued probe into the matter or the correspondence exchanged between himself and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and their other Government colleagues during the period under question.
He also said it was Google Inc which had cleared him of any connection to the thread of e-mails that triggered the E-mailgate fiasco. Ramlogan said while his lawyers did serve notice on the California-based company, it was merely a legal formality to inform the other parties that the information the commission was legally seeking from Google was already officially delivered.
“I don’t think it blocks their application and I hope it doesn’t because I am very concerned to ensure that the Integrity Commission proceeds with its investigation so we can have that independent clearance by the Integrity Commission, by the Police Service, in the same way that we have had the independent clearance by Google. “The objective, in sharing with the court that is dealing with the application by the Integrity Commission, is something that is mandated by law.
“In the state of California, if there is a related proceeding between two parties, it must be brought to the attention of another court. “That also incidentally also happens to be the law in T&T and most Commonwealth nations,” he said. But the Integrity Commission application is different as it centers its investigations on the e-mail address email@example.com and not firstname.lastname@example.org.
To that, the AG said: “I cannot give permission to search an account that does not belong to me...that e-mail address (email@example.com) featured nowhere in the document. I was quite surprised to see the Integrity Commission would speculate and ask for an e-mail address that was not contained in the document. “If it is not in the document I would not have been able to ask Google to search it. You can only ask Google to search what is on that document,” he said.
Ramlogan said the majority of e-mails on the thread carried the misspelled e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org. “I don’t think it was a spelling error and I am very surprised that the Integrity Commission would invite the court to speculate like that without being fair to us,” he said. He said he had no problem with anybody continuing an investigation into the email@example.com e-mail address. “It is bogus, it is a hoax and it is part of a political conspiracy that was designed to bring down the Government by attacking its credibility,” he said.
...Anand got complete e-mail trail months ago
More than four months ago, e-mail service provider Google provided Attorney General Anand Ramlogan with a complete record of his e-mail transactions with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for the month of September 2012. The record was compressed into an mbox file, which is a cut and paste of the conversations, with any accompanying attachments. Ramlogan said last night that an examination of that file would show that “none of the fake e-mails are among those” disclosed.
Reference to the mbox file was made in a sworn affidavit by Google’s custodian of records Chi Nguyen, which was time-stamped August 22. Nguyen stated that the records were disclosed to Ramlogan on May 7. In his latest court action, which was filed on Sunday, Ramlogan claims that his subpoena to Google “was more detailed” than the Integrity Commission’s which was granted by a federal judge in California on August 14.
The Integrity Commission is seeking information from the following accounts - firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org - for the month of September 2012, which are “relevant to a criminal investigation into possible government corruption.” Google has until August 28 to comply or challenge the court order. Ramlogan said both he and Persad-Bissessar have already written to the commission authorising it to access their records.
In his latest legal action, Ramlogan notes that Google, as well as Persad-Bissessar and himself, had the right to object to, seek protective orders or appeal, under the applicable law, for protection against their privacy and legal privilege. The legal document states that in light of the disclosure made by Google to Ramlogan “that further discovery related the forgeries underpinning this discovery is not necessary.”
To support his position, Ramlogan contends that the Integrity Commission’s investigation “may lead to charges” against the Prime Minister and himself in T&T, “giving them a substantial interest” in the proceedings between the Integrity Commission and Google.
Both Ramlogan and Persad-Bissessar, as private citizens and government officials, have also noted that the e-mails exchanged between them also include communication with their attorneys in the pending Integrity Commission lawsuit and that they had “specific interests in preserving any legal privileges, including over those attorney/client and official state communications.”
They further reserved all rights to assert any applicable legal privilege or appropriate protective order necessary to ensure that T&T’s state communication and personal communications which are responsive to the subpoena are not inadvertently entered into the public record.”
On May 20 last year while addressing Parliament in his no confidence motion against Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her People’s Partnership Government, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley read 31 controversial e-mails allegedly sent between senior government officials.
The officials whose e-mail addresses the messages were purported to have come from were Persad-Bissessar, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, former Local Government Minister Surujrattan Rambachan and then national security adviser to the Prime Minister Gary Griffith.
The allegations dealt with an alleged plot to tap the phone of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the intimidation of the T&T Guardian journalist who broke the story about the early proclamation of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011. The officials who were named all denied the allegations and claimed the e-mails were fabrications.
AG: Rowley will pay me back
Ramlogan seemed confident yesterday he would be victorious in the planned legal action against Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley and has already drafted the legal action letter. “I have also started looking at the Integrity in Public Life Act to see if Dr Rowley had some duty to run this document by an IT expert before he dropped this bombshell in Parliament,” he said. Ramlogan said he paid top dollar for his legal representation in this matter and planned to recover money spent from Rowley.
“So it’s been paid for by personal funds and I spared no expense because I know that I will be getting reimbursement from Dr Rowley,” he said. While he refused to speculate on the amount, he did say it would be upwards of one million dollars. The T&T Guardian texted Rowley, who is currently out of the country, asking if he was concerned about Ramlogan’s plans to sue for defamation. “The only thing that concerns me is that he is still the country’s Attorney General,” Rowley said.