Prof Uff bats for commissioners

Responding to claims by Udecott that Sirju was possibly affected by apparent bias, Uff details the full extent of the case against Sirju.

“Udecott alleges that Mr Sirju should be automatically disqualified on the ground that Mr Sirju has a personal interest in the outcome of the inquiry stemming from an interest of (his company) KS&P Limited in a proposal for a consultancy contract which was rejected by Udecott,” Uff notes in an affidavit filed in the Port-of-Spain High Court in November in pending court proceedings brought by Udecott against the commission.

He notes that Udecott had discovered that Sirju’s company had made a proposal for a project related to the Brian Lara Stadium project at Tarouba called the Brian Lara Sporting Academy, which is meant to be an elite facility.

The proposal did not meet with success and, as such, Udecott alleges that Sirju may have an interest in the inquiry, especially as the project eventually went to project managers Turner-Alpha who have been party to the proceedings.

In responding to this allegation, Uff says, “no criticism whatsoever has been made of Udecott’s decision to extend Turner’s contract to cover the new work...Indeed, the Brian Lara Sporting Academy is not even within the terms of reference of the enquiry.”

“Mr Sirju has explained in his own affidavit in these proceedings the precise extent of his own involvement in any knowledge of, which is very limited indeed.

“However, as I explained, that is ultimately of little or no consequence because the extension of Turner’s remit to cover the academy work has never been an issue before the commission.”

For the first time, Uff reveals that while Sirju has recused himself from the inquiry’s detailed examination of another project, the Cleaver Heights housing project, Sirju will produce a memorandum apart from the final report into the project.

“The final report will then be reviewed by Mr Sirju who will prepare memorandum stating whether he agrees with the report, which memorandum will not form part of the report,” Uff says.

“In adopting this approach the commissioners are certainly not accepting that Udecott’s allegations of bias are well-founded; we are simply seeking to minimise any scope for controversy.”

Uff says that he had “forgotten” about KS&P’s involvement in the Cleaver Heights project by the time Cabinet recommended a detailed examination of the project that would have caused Sirju to have a conflict of interest.

And while Khan had come under fire for his comments in the inquiry, he defended Khan’s style.

“A combative style on his part does not suggest prejudice against any particular witness or party, but is simply an aspect of his particular forensic technique,” Uff argues.


"Prof Uff bats for commissioners"

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