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Integrity body, DPP get Google info
A lawyer for Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has written to the Integrity Commission (IC) and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions urging the two bodies to act decisively on new information from internet e-mail service provider Google Inc which could help them arrive at a “firm and correct” position in the now infamous E-mailgate probe. Over the past two days, the letters, along with a sworn affidavit from Google’s custodian of records Chi Nguyen and three other legal documents, were dispatched to the bodies.
The first dispatch went to the Registrar of the Integrity Commission Martin Farrell in the hope it would assist the commission in its investigation into allegations of a criminal conspiracy first raised in Parliament in May 2013 by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley. The conspiracy involved harming a T&T Guardian journalist who had broken the Section 34 story, spying on the DPP’s office, leaning on Chief Justice Ivor Archie to appoint DPP Roger Gaspard as a judge and a plot to cover up the entire affair.
Rowley read out the e-mails in Parliament after waiting on then president George Maxwell Richards to act on the same information for some six months, having forwarded it to him in 2012. “I trust that the attached documents which are self-explanatory would not only assist the Integrity Commission in arriving at a firm and correct position as to the nature of the documents which form the basis of its investigation but would also provide enlightenment and guidance as to the way forward,” attorney Pamela Elder, SC, stated in her letter to the IC.
Elder stated that it was with “immense pleasure” that she was sending the documents to the commission for its “deepest consideration”. In the letter, she noted that Ramlogan had forwarded written consent to the Integrity Commission on January 31, authorising Google to search his e-mail account carrying the e-mail address [email protected], for any e-mails exchanged between himself and the following accounts, [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected].
The e-mail accounts identified by Ramlogan belong to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, National Security Minister Gary Griffith, Works and Infrastructure Minister Surujrattan Rambachan and himself. Elder said that seven months had elapsed without any response from the Integrity Commission.
On August 14, the commission was granted a subpoena from a federal judge in California, United States, to demand the records for the following e-mail accounts, [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected] from Google. The deadline for Google to object to the court order expires today.
Right to defend privacy
The legal documents Pamela Elder SC submitted included two consent orders obtained by Ramlogan in his defamation lawsuit in California, which authorised Google to search his e-mail account [email protected] for any e-mail sent or received by [email protected] for the month of September 2012 and to hand over the contents to his lawyers.
The court orders noted that it “resolves any request, legal process, motions, or court orders currently directed to or against Google in this matter and any such request, legal process, motions, or court orders are hereby moot.”
The third document, which was filed on August 24 in the matter concerning the Integrity Commission lawsuit against Google, suggested that the information disclosed by the Google’s custodian of records resolved that lawsuit and there was no need for Google to search the e-mail accounts of Ramlogan and Persad-Bissessar again.
It noted that both Ramlogan and Persad-Bissessar had the right to object or seek protective orders if Google intends to comply with the Integrity Commission’s subpoena, including challenging it on the basis that it was breaching their rights to privacy and legal privileges. They both contend that the e-mails referred to by Rowley were “fabricated and concocted by persons unknown for ulterior political motives, to assassinate their characters and secure a political advantage.”
In that document, it was stated that the Integrity Commission’s investigation “may lead to charges” against Ramlogan and Persad-Bissessar, giving them “a substantial interest” in the related proceedings. Similar documents were also dispatched to deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Joan Honore-Paul and Rowley yesterday. Gaspard delegated Honore-Paul to advise the police in the investigation as his name was mentioned in Rowley’s e-mails.
Integrity Commission chairman Ken Gordon also recused himself from the matter due to issues raised by Ramlogan and the PM over a meeting he held with Rowley ahead of going to the Parliament with the e-mails. Elder intends to write to acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams today supplying the same documents and calling for an urgent criminal investigation to determine the author of the e-mails disclosed by Rowley.
What Google disclosed
Apart from the sworn affidavit from the custodian of records, Google has also provided Ramlogan with 22 e-mails exchanged between himself and PM Persad-Bissessar for the month of September 2012. Those e-mails were provided on May 7 but were only certified by Nguyen as being authentic on August 22.
An examination of those e-mails, which were provided to the T&T Guardian, does not correspond to any of the e-mails read by Opposition Leader Rowley in May 2013. Google’s search examined the e-mail accounts of [email protected] and [email protected].
It also examined six other accounts — [email protected], [email protected];[email protected], [email protected]:[email protected],net.tt, [email protected]@gmail.com, [email protected] gmail.com and [email protected]. — but was unable to locate records showing e-mails received from or sent to those accounts from [email protected] or [email protected]
It does, however, refer to a series of events after Section 34, of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Amendment Act, was proclaimed, including the United States Embassy’s advanced notice of a press release, dated September 11, 2012, expressing concerns about media reports that the fraud case against Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson may be dropped because of the passage of the legislation.
There was also a draft of a letter, sent by Ramlogan to the Prime Minister, addressed to the then acting President Timothy Hamel-Smith, dated September 21, 2012, advising the revocation of then Justice Minister Herbert Volney’s position as a Government Minister and the reassignment of the portfolio to Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar.
Ramlogan contends that the affidavit from Google’s custodian of records and the e-mails found in his records was a complete answer to the allegations made in an e-mail thread read in Parliament by Rowley. The documents were first disclosed at press conference by Ramlogan on Sunday in the presence of Elder and his US attorney Chris Sargent, who participated at the press conference via Skype.
Ramlogan said then that his US lawyers intended to present the affidavit and records from his e-mail account to the judge hearing the Integrity Commission case against Google, in order to prevent any duplication of a request to search the e-mail accounts of both the Prime Minister and himself.