Rowley: AG Ramlogan must resign now
By ANDRE BAGOO Wednesday, June 20 2012
OPPOSITION Leader Dr Keith Rowley yesterday called for the immediate resignation of Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, after the Newsday published an exclusive interview in which a member of the Integrity Commission, Gladys Gafoor, alleged the Attorney General attempted to get her to quit the Commission.
Rowley said the failure of Ramlogan to deny reports that he has been involved in the row between Gafoor and the Integrity Commission chairman Ken Gordon, calls for him to be dismissed forthwith by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Rowley said Ramlogan has brought the office of the Attorney General into disrepute and has, in the process, done damage to the Constitutionally independent watchdog body, the Integrity Commission. He said the impression of Ramlogan left by the reports is that he is as “at large” and “dangerous”.
Gafoor, in her interview, alleged Ramlogan called her and offered assistance to pay her legal bills in relation to a lawsuit she planned to bring against the Commission, but on condition that Ramlogan appoint her legal team. She refused, but the offer of assistance was then withdrawn. Gafoor also said she then got a call from Ramlogan to her mobile phone asking her to consider settling the issue of her row with Gordon by resigning.
Sunday Newsday also reported that Gafoor’s attorney, Clive Phelps, has alleged in documents filed in court that Ramlogan played a role in the premature publication of a legal letter sent by Gafoor to the Integrity Commission. According to Phelps, the legal letter was published in a Sunday newspaper after attorney, Gerald Ramdeen, reportedly said his “boss” Attorney General Ramlogan wanted the letter published.
Rowley said it was “improper” for the Attorney General to have any role as to who sits on the Commission since the Constitution makes clear that the Commission is appointed by the President in consultation with the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader.
“This conduct is not just improper but it is also destructive,” Rowley said. “My jaw dropped when I saw this. The Attorney General’s office has no role in picking and securing any person on the Integrity Commission. I am saying the Attorney General is to be dismissed. He has compromised his office and damaged the Integrity Commission.”
“Why did he insert himself in the Integrity Commission’s business and on whose behalf was he acting?” Rowley asked. “Suppose Mrs Gafoor wins her case, what would be the role of the Attorney General in a matter that apparently has nothing do to with him? What you would have had here is an Attorney General trying to get a member of the Integrity Commission off the Commission when she has done nothing wrong,” Rowley said. “Alternatively, if the law is broken and Ms Gafoor is alleged to have done that what then would the Attorney General say about his role in the matter? The appointment of the Commission was done by the President in consultation with the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader. Absolutely no role is played by the Attorney General to determine a member of the Integrity Commission.”
Rowley said the office of the Attorney General is also undermined by Gafoor’s allegations.
“The office of the Attorney General is a very important office in relation to citizens rights and exceptions. If these allegations are upheld, or not denied, we have a serious problem here. Remember this allegation is being made by no ordinary person. It is being made by a member of the Integrity Commission.”
Rowley continued, “The Attorney General seems to be at large, dangerous and rambunctious. He is causing more problems than he has been solving. Now we are witnessing a clash between the Integrity Commission and the Attorney General’s office where the truth is the first victim.”
The independence of the Commission is now threatened, Rowley said.
“How can the Integrity Commission be seen to be independent when it is seen to be under the thumb of the Attorney General or the Attorney General could intervene and handpick what is going on there? The perception left by this is that if something is happening in the commission, some high-ranking person can intervene in this way and wield influence which he ought not to have under any circumstances given his role,” Rowley said.
“If this is not denied or disproved then the conduct of the Attorney General in treating with the independent Integrity Commission brings the whole operation of the Commission into question; the commission’s role as an independent arbiter is now compromised and the Attorney General’s resignation is required immediately,” he said.
Noting that the trigger of the row between Gordon and Gafoor was a request from Jeremie to have Gafoor and another commissioner removed from presiding over his matter, Rowley said, “Remember the genesis of this is that of a citizen saying I don’t want Gafoor to preside over my matter.”
The Opposition Leader, who was once victorious in a landmark case which he brought against the Commission, said the failure of Ramlogan to deny the Sunday Newsday report now threatens to undermine the already beleaguered Commission.
“To see now that the Attorney General’s office has been seen to play a role in this way will further damage the Commission, as if this Integrity Commission does not have enough problems already! It is a Commission which has been struggling to establish its credentials in the eyes of the public,” he said.
The Diego Martin West MP noted Gafoor’s allegations that Ramlogan sought to pick and choose her legal team. He said this was part of a larger pattern of conduct on the part of Ramlogan.
“I have warned this country about the attitude of the Attorney General in how he treats with his office,” Rowley said. “A member of the Integrity Commission is now joining me in pointing out the unacceptable role of the Attorney General in respect of feeding briefs to certain lawyers. The allegations seem to confirm that certain lawyers seem to have the Attorney General’s favour; he seems to be a supermarket dispensing legal briefs. Mrs Gafoor is saying she was offered assistance to pay her legal fees and she is saying he (Ramlogan) called her an offered her legal support and the condition is Gerald Ramdeen. When she did not accept the team he choose, he withdrew the offer.”