?Hours before the end of the 11-month-old Uff Commission of Enquiry into the construction sector, Justice Anthony Lucky handed in a bulky report to Attorney General John Jeremie, laying blame on certain people over the failure to gazette the inquiry, as required by the Commission of Enquiry Act..
Lucky, a retired Court of Appeal Judge, was appointed by Cabinet on September 11 to investigate who fouled up the procedure which could have derailed the expensive inquiry after numerous witnesses had testified and substantial evidence adduced. Lucky, who is a judge of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), handed over the report yesterday to Jeremie at Cabildo Chambers at 9.45 am. But he remained tight-lipped when leaving the AG's office, saying the matter was confidential and suggested that the media consult with the AG. The T&T Guardian learnt that the report would be taken before Cabinet today, and once approved, would be laid in the House of Representatives tomorrow. The report dealt with the question of the gazetting of inquiries before they got under way. It cited several instances here in Trinidad, the Caribbean and abroad, to show that such a "simple" procedure must be adopted before commissioners sit and hear evidence.
Although appointed in September, Lucky was unable to conduct the probe before, as he was abroad on ITLOS business. But as soon as he returned, he got the mandate to interview people. Among those interviewed were the full legal team appointed to the Uff Commission–Seenath Jairam, SC, Ian Roach, Kerwyn Garcia, Garvin Simonette and Marvo Harper. At a location in Port-of-Spain, Lucky also interviewed people in the AG's office, connected with the Commission. In the end, the retired judge compiled his report, laying blame at the feet of certain people, whom he felt should not have been complacent, thus ensuring that a simple procedure of gazetting was performed. Lucky, in his report, made recommendations, which, if adopted by Cabinet, would ensure that future inquiries were not threatened and/or derailed because of a similar problem.
?On September 9, 2008, President George Maxwell Richards appointed four people as commissioners to inquire into certain matters in relation to the construction sector.The commission began sitting and heard opening statements on January 12, 2009, and had, up to September, held three sets of hearings during the course of which a substantial amount of information was received by the Commissioners by way of written statements, oral testimony under oath, and round-table discussions, on some eight items of the terms of reference.
Days before the start of the final set of hearings on September 7, it was discovered that the commission had not been gazetted as is required by Section 15 of the Commission of Enquiry Act on September 9, 2008, when the commission was established.��As a result, Jeremie went to Parliament and got both Houses to pass the Validation Act, and which was assented to on November 3. This gave the commission a retroactive effect, meaning that all the evidence taken before the error was discovered was still valid. The fourth and final phase started on Monday and ended yesterday, with chairman John Uff, QC, promising to produce his report by the end of February 2010.