Section 34 proposed to throw out cases (except “blood offences”) that were not concluded a decade after the date of the alleged commission of the offence. Potential beneficiaries included Galbaransingh and Ferguson.
While the duo are likely to appeal to the Appeal Court, and maybe the Privy Council, they now face hefty legal costs for Friday’s judgment.
Yesterday, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan roughly estimated the cost of the State counsel to be “in the vicinity of $5 million to $7 million, minimum.”
“I have instructed the Solicitor-General (Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell) to commence preparation of the State’s bill of costs,” he told Sunday Newsday yesterday.
The State’s team included two British Queen’s Counsel — Lord David Pannick QC and Allan Newman QC.
Ramlogan said the State had to spend money to match the appellants’ high-powered legal team. “The claimants had retained Lord Beloff QC, Edward Fitzpatrick QC, Fyard Hosein QC, Sophie Chote QC and a battery of lawyers. If the State did not match the arms in this battle, the Government would have been accused of under-preparing, with sinister, ulterior motives. So it was, money was spent, as evidenced by the comprehensive victory,” he said.
Asked if similar legal costs would be incurred if the appellants go to the Appeal Court, he replied, “Why change a winning team?” Ramlogan also said the Dean-Armorer judgment had not only preserved the “Ish and Steve” case, but also all the other cases of alleged corruption in TT, plus any future court-cases that might arise from the two current commissions of inquiry, respectively, into the 1990 coup attempt, and into the collapse of Clico and the Hindu Credit Union (HCU).
The AG also noted that paragraphs 445, 478 and 499 of the judgment focused on evidence given by him, declaring that he is the first attorney general to give evidence on behalf of the State, as he had also done in the case of the Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs). “The reason I went on affidavits is to point out that if Section 34 were to succeed is what that means is that all those corruption probes I instituted into Petrotrin, Udecott, Eteck, TTEC, UTT and so on would have all been caught by Section 34,” said Ramlogan.
“Remember the PNM was in power for eight years and by the time Section 34 came two years of us in Government had already passed and eight and two is ten, and the object of Section 34 is that if ten years have passed from the commission of the offence and you haven’t charged anybody with it, you can’t do anything else,” said the AG. “In the judgment, she (Dean-Armorer) averted to that, and she accepted that evidence, and she paid recognition to it.”
Ramlogan said paragraph 478 of Dean-Armorer’s judgment had noted the AG’s assertion that the “Ish and Steve” case was relevant to other corruption cases.
Ramlogan said there are many ongoing probes (Petrotrin, Udecott, TTEC, UTT) that could lead to future court action, and these had now been saved by last Friday’s ruling.
Ramlogan said last Friday’s ruling now clears the way for the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to pursue criminal charges arising from evidence in the two commissions of inquiry.