Gafoor’s resignation will come as the final blow to a commission which was appointed by President George Maxwell Richards on May 1 and which has seen four of its five original members resign in the space of one week.
On Friday, chartered accountant Lylla Bada, 66, handed in letters of resignation to the commission and to the Office of the President. In an exclusive interview with Newsday, which was published yesterday, Bada announced her resignation. She, however, declined to reveal why
she resigned only saying she was resigning for personal reasons. Bada would not say whether her resignation was related to the imbroglio which has engulfed the commission since May 1, and noted that she was “a private person”.
Gafoor, 74, had previously told Newsday that she was not going to resign in the wake of the resignation of the commission’s chairman Fr Henry Charles on Thursday. She noted that while the work of the commission could not go on because it did not have a quorum, the commission still existed.
“I was appointed to the commission to serve and I am very happy to do that,” she had said. However, it is understood that the one-time Director of Public Prosecutions has since decided otherwise. Asked yesterday by Sunday Newsday if she would remain on the commission in light of Bada’s resignation, Gafoor declined comment. However, sources told Sunday Newsday that Gafoor is of the view that the Office of the President must be able to start afresh the process of appointments and that she must not stand in the way of this in light of the public’s perception that the process has been tainted.
Gafoor’s appointment had appeared to top a glittering career. She has chaired two commissions of inquiry: one into the banking industry and another into the public health sector. From 1989 to 2005 she served as the vice-president and chairman of the Essential Services Division of the Industrial Court of Trinidad and Tobago. She was DPP from 1987 to 1989 and also served as the deputy Solicitor General and Acting Solicitor General from 1983 to 1987. Called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn, London, in 1960, she went on to serve as a magistrate and then a senior magistrate from 1966 to 1983.
On May 1, Justice of Appeal Zainool Hosein quit as a member of the commission after Richards reportedly offered him the post of deputy chairman but instead appointed NIB executive director Jeffrey Mc Farlane. Mc Farlane resigned on Wednesday after the legality of his appointment was questioned. The next day, Fr Henry Charles resigned, citing the fact that Roman Catholic Church law forbids him from serving. On Friday, Bada, who has served as UWI campus bursar under Richards when he was UWI principal, quietly resigned.
The mass resignations come at a delicate time for the Constitutional body and echo the resignation of the former commission earlier this year. On February 5 that commission resigned in the wake of a High Court ruling which found that it had acted in bad faith in its handling of a probe into the Diego Martin West MP Dr Keith Rowley/Landate Affair.