The two parties each held media briefings to allege an elaborate plot to “kill” Udecott as the hot topic of the election campaign by the parties opposed to the ruling PNM.
However, both the police and legal sources close to Hart, yesterday denied any knowledge of Hart returning on Monday, or being charged.
Hart left Trinidad weeks before the damning Uff Report into Udecott was laid in Parliament, but returned briefly to be questioned by the police only to again fly out of the country.
COP leader Winston Dookeran, hosted a media conference at the party’s Flagship House in Woodbrook, with attorneys Vernon de Lima and Tim Hamel-Smith. Dookeran said he would like to hear Government defend itself on the Calder Hart issue and have a full public dialogue, rather than see any alleged cover-up. Hamel-Smith said the COP was trying to foil a plot allegedly hatched by the PNM.
Hamel-Smith alleged that Hart might also be charged with the common law offence of misbehaviour in public office. He recalled the $368 million contract given by Udecott to CH/Sunway for the Legal Affairs Tower was $60 million more than the next lowest bidder.
De Lima alleged a plot to stifle public debate on all matters pertaining to Udecott and Hart. He said if Hart is charged his lawyers could ask a judge for an ex-parte order that would stop any discussion of the case pending a trial.
De Lima also lamented the transfer of the Hart case investigator Terry Young from the Anti-Corruption Investigations Bureau (ACIB). “He is the person to whom we gave all the information. We sat down with him on several occasions. He has got all that information, yet he has been mysteriously ‘huffed’ from the ACIB, and sent to the Guard and Emergency Branch,” said De Lima.
Hamel-Smith suggested any such gag order would be extended to shut up Diego Martin West MP Dr Keith Rowley whom he predicted is about to be axed as a candidate. However he added, “If today we foil them, it would not surprise me if they don’t bring back Calder Hart”.
UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar also claimed Hart would return to Trinidad to be charged with perjury, yesterday at a news conference at Rienzi Complex.
Persad-Bissessar said: “I have been advised today that Mr Calder Hart will be returning to Trinidad on Monday. I’m further advised that he is to be charged with perjury. I am further advised that his bail has already been set one-point-something million dollars and they will allow him to leave the country.
“I am further advised that they will apply to the court for a gag order to prevent Udecott and Calder Hart from becoming an issue in this election.” Saying that to be forewarned is to be forearmed, Persad-Bissessar promised to raise this matter at a public meeting in La Horquetta due last night, at the presentation of the UNC led coalition’s 41 candidates in Chaguanas on Sunday and any other opportunity she gets.
“The Government is going to try to shut us up.” she added. Claiming other charges may arise out of the Uff Report (but which the Government allegedly does not want to pursue), Persad-Bissessar said: “They want to make the public feel that they are doing something when in effect it is nothing because they are going to let him go.” She challenged Prime Minister Patrick Manning to give the facts of the matter to the public if the information which she received concerning Hart, was false.
Yesterday legal sources close to Hart told Newsday that Hart never indicated he would return to the country on Monday and sources at American Airlines also revealed that there was no booking for Hart to return to Trinidad at this time.
Checks yesterday with sources at the ACIB also revealed that prior to Senior Supt Young being transferred to the Guard and Emergency Branch, he was putting together a file to take to the DPP, but according to the source up to yesterday the DPP Roger Gaspard was not consulted on any matter relating to Hart.
Officers pointed out that the procedure was that after a file is prepared it is taken to acting COP James Philbert for consultation. Philbert is in Brazil attending a conference and returns on Sunday night. Ag Deputy CoP Gilbert Reyes who is acting for Philbert told Newsday yesterday, “I don’t know anything about Mr Hart being charged by the police on Monday.”