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Deputy DPP says PM, Anand not cleared in Emailgate

Published: 
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Joan Honore-Paul

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Joan Honore-Paul last night slammed Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for her suggestion that she and her colleagues should be cleared in the Emailgate probe, saying the police were far from done with their investigations and the case was still wide open.

She also chastised Persad-Bissessar for releasing contents of reports provided to the police from the US Department of Justice, saying that the treaty under which this information was provided prohibited anyone else other than the national security parties probing the matter to use it.

Honore-Paul’s comment comes days after Persad-Bissessar and members of her party attacked Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley over the Emailgate matter in the wake of his suspension from Parliament last week. The Government used some of the information from the US Department of Justice report during the debate of censure against Rowley.

Using social media earlier this week, Persad-Bissessar had also taken Rowley to task after her US-based lawyer, Jack Russo, suggested that both she and former attorney general Anand Ramlogan had been cleared after Google Inc had provided information which suggested there was no match for any of the emails presented in the documents by Rowley in the House in 2013.  

Persad-Bissessar had also called on the police to expedite the matter, noting that her Government should not be facing the spectre of such an allegation heading into a general election.

But dealing specifically with the issue of whether the case was close to an end, Honore-Paul said, “This investigation relates not only to whether the emails were in fact sent in September 2012 but also whether there may have been acts by particular persons which amount to misconduct in public office. “The investigation necessarily includes an examination of events outside of the four corners of the purported email correspondence, since these may have the potential to confirm or refute the disputed email communications.”

Request for help
She said the police team started its investigations after the purported emails were forwarded by the PM to acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams in 2013 for investigation. She said since then the police had requested help, through the Central Authority, from the US Department of Justice and it was facilitated because the request was supported by “evidence which met the required level of ‘probable cause.’ 

She said the US Department of Justice acting on the request served a warrant on certain service providers in the US, among them Google Inc, and subsequently forwarded that information to the Central Authority, which in turn passed it to DCP Glen Hackett, who is heading the local probe.

She said, “While it is true, that after receipt of the information from the Department of Justice, the police team led by Superintendent Baldeo Nanan did send a report to Deputy Commissioner of Police Glen Hackett, it is not true that such report cleared Mr Anand Ramlogan and Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar in respect of this investigation.”

She added, “The United States Department of Justice’s response did not treat with all the matters requested by the investigative team and further, the United States Department of Justice is yet to relay any information related to the Hotmail accounts “captaingarygriffith@hotmail.com” and “surujrambachan@hotmail.com.

“They have indicated that such information will be sent as soon as possible. Quite properly, there was absolutely no finding made by the United States Department of Justice nor was any disclosed in written correspondence. The United States Department of Justice was concerned only with relaying the data or information that was received by virtue of the above-mentioned warrant. This is its legal remit.” 

She concluded that any attempt to give the “impression that there has been some finality in this regard is misleading.”

Natural justice
Dealing with the release of the information in the public domain, Honore-Paul said she had noted several media articles which quoted from various document provided by the US State Department to the local investigators. However, she cautioned, “Any parallel investigation by interested parties and the public airing of the supposed results are palpably self-serving and bring to mind the need for the legal maxim, “no man should be a judge in his own cause.”

“This is a bedrock principle of natural justice, the rule of law and due process. It exists to ensure impartiality by the disqualification of potentially biased or interested parties in the investigations. 

“Further, notwithstanding the fact that the T&T Police Service has the institutional strength and history to withstand pressure from whatever source, the publication of this information derived from private sources, has the potential to interfere with the investigations being conducted by independent and impartial bodies, such as the Integrity Commission and the T&T Police Service. Moreover, it has the potential to interfere with the public perception of the soundness of these investigations.” 

She also said the use of the information in the “public arena without the permission of one’s international partner is especially disturbing and dangerous, since such action violates what is expected by way of international cooperation and more particularly, it attracts questions marks as to our ability to honour our international legal obligations, thus potentially influencing, negatively, the outcome of future requests by Trinidad and Tobago for Mutual Legal Assistance.”

About Emailgate
On May 20, 2013, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley presented to Parliament a thread of 31 email messages purporting to be a conversation between four people whose email accounts bore close resemblance to that of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, then attorney general Anand Ramlogan, former national security minister Gary Griffith and Works and Infrastructure Minister Suruj Rambachan.

The conversation between the parties surrounded the publication of a story in the T&T Guardian newspaper about the proclamation of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Offences) Amendment Act and a conspiracy to murder the reporter pursing the story.

Section 34 was proclaimed on August 31, 2012 and was viewed as legislation specially crafted to benefit United National Congress financiers Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson, who were charged with a series of criminal offences relating to the Piarco Airport Development Project.

The conversation in the emails also made suggestions of spying on Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard and an attempt to remove him from office by offering him the position as a High Court judge.

Since then, Section 34 was repealed by an emergency session of Parliament. Two parallel investigations were commenced - one by the Integrity Commission and another by the police service. Both are incomplete. DPP Roger Gaspard also recused himself from overseeing the matter as he was named in the emails.

Hotmail accounts outstanding

Deputy DPP Honore-Paul said the police team started its investigations after the purported emails were forwarded by the PM to acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams in 2013 for investigation. She said since then the police had requested help, through the Central Authority, from the US Department of Justice and it was facilitated because the request was supported by “evidence which met the required level of ‘probable cause.’ 

She said the US Department of Justice acting on the request served a warrant on certain service providers in the US, among them Google Inc, and subsequently forwarded that information to the Central Authority, which in turn passed it to DCP Glen Hackett, who is heading the local probe.

She said, “While it is true, that after receipt of the information from the Department of Justice, the police team led by Superintendent Baldeo Nanan did send a report to Deputy Commissioner of Police Glen Hackett, it is not true that such report cleared Mr Anand Ramlogan and Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar in respect of this investigation.”

She added, “The United States Department of Justice’s response did not treat with all the matters requested by the investigative team and further, the United States Department of Justice is yet to relay any information related to the Hotmail accounts “captaingarygriffith@hotmail.com” and “surujrambachan@hotmail.com.

“They have indicated that such information will be sent as soon as possible. Quite properly, there was absolutely no finding made by the United States Department of Justice nor was any disclosed in written correspondence. The United States Department of Justice was concerned only with relaying the data or information that was received by virtue of the above-mentioned warrant. This is its legal remit.” 

She concluded that any attempt to give the “impression that there has been some finality in this regard is misleading.” Dealing with the release of the information in the public domain, Honore-Paul said she had noted several media articles which quoted from various document provided by the US State Department to the local investigators.

However, she cautioned, “Any parallel investigation by interested parties and the public airing of the supposed results are palpably self-serving and bring to mind the need for the legal maxim, “no man should be a judge in his own cause.” 

“This is a bedrock principle of natural justice, the rule of law and due process. It exists to ensure impartiality by the disqualification of potentially biased or interested parties in the investigations. “Further, notwithstanding the fact that the T&T Police Service has the institutional strength and history to withstand pressure from whatever source, the publication of this information derived from private sources, has the potential to interfere with the investigations being conducted by independent and impartial bodies, such as the Integrity Commission and the T&T Police Service.

Moreover, it has the potential to interfere with the public perception of the soundness of these investigations.” 

She also said the use of the information in the “public arena without the permission of one’s international partner is especially disturbing and dangerous, since such action violates what is expected by way of international cooperation and more particularly, it attracts questions marks as to our ability to honour our international legal obligations, thus potentially influencing, negatively, the outcome of future requests by Trinidad and Tobago for Mutual Legal Assistance.”