Former National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) national security minister and attorney general Selwyn Richardson was no cocaine dealer, no thief and no dishonest person.Former NAR attorney general Anthony Smart yesterday made a special request to the commission of enquiry into the July 27, 1990 insurrection to defend the name of his now deceased parliamentary colleague.Smart told the commission at the Caribbean Court of Justice, Port-of-Spain, he felt "very pained" about claims Richardson and Herbert Atwell, who acted as national security minister during the NAR administration in the late 80s, were involved in drug dealing.Smart made reference to a witness (Jamaat member and former 1990 insurgent Jamaal Shabazz) who made the allegation while giving evidence last week.
He recalled Shabazz's statement that deceased Woman Police Officer Bernadette James told the Jamaat leadership in August 1987 she entered a room at Piarco Airport and saw Richardson, Atwell and one Major Thompson with cocaine on a table.He added: "It was said Richardson tasted the cocaine and said this is the real stuff."When I heard that I was horrified though I had heard the rumours before. I knew Richardson reasonably well."He said he had an opportunity to observe Richardson very closely when he was appointed a junior minister under him in the Attorney General's Ministry in 1987."He was no thief, no dishonest person and no cocaine dealer," Smart told the commission.
He said his firm of solicitors did Richardson's estate after he was killed and the former government minister died almost a pauper."He drove a very humble Corolla station wagon while he was a government minister. His lifestyle was simple," Smart added.Noting that Richardson's subsequent murder had nothing to do with the drug trade and that his salary as a Government Minister was miniscule, Smart said when he died he left $23,000 in cash.He added: "He had a property that was mortgaged. Selwyn had no money. He was no drug dealer."He was generally a good man who would not countenance that sort of thing."
At this point, Smart was reminded by commission chairman Sir David Simmons that the suggestion given earlier (by Shabazz) was that Richardson used his position to cover cocaine destined to some prominent family.Smart continued his defence of Richardson, nevertheless.He said Richardson's widow, Joyce, called him (Smart) recently very distraught and unhappy over the allegations against her deceased husband.Referring to the "prominent family" mentioned in the allegation, he said Richardson lived next to a certain family while he occupied the official residence of the Attorney General in Federation Park.
Smart said the head of the family asked Richardson for a recommendation (for the family) and he was not interested but gave in when his wife insisted.He said: "Joyce said the recommendation ended up in a Miami court where a son in the family was found guilty on drug charges."Smart said it was the error in giving that recommendation that resulted in the talk of Richardson's involvement in the drug trade.He also defended the good name of Atwell, a man of principle and high ideals with whom he was close, he said. He said Atwell was very ill, at present.He added: "He certainly did not show he had the wherewithal of someone dealing in cocaine at that level.