AG culpable too
By SEAN DOUGLAS Sunday, September 23 2012
PNM vice chairman, Camille Robinson-Regis, yesterday blamed the whole Cabinet, including Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bisessar, for the scandal that saw an attempt to prematurely proclaim Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2012.
Robinson-Regis, a former MP and former Minister of Legal Affairs, spoke to reporters at the PNM’s Constituency Conference for Lopinot/Bon Air West at the Five Rivers Community Centre, Arouca, where she gave the feature address.
She told reporters the PNM is not satisfied with the firing of former Justice Minister, Herbert Volney.
“We feel it was not Minister Volney alone who was culpable in this matter,” said Robinson- Regis.
“We continue to make the point that the Attorney General (Anand Ramlogan), we feel, was also culpable.”
She added, “Even if the Prime Minister says Mr Volney lied to the Cabinet, there was an undertaking given by Mr Volney and the Attorney General that nothing would be proclaimed prior to the systems being put in place .”
She argued that Cabinet could not have been duped by Volney, contrary to the PM’s claim.
“They knew as a Cabinet that none of the systems was put in place and yet they agreed to the proclamation of section 34. Even if he (Volney) said he had spoken to the Chief Justice and the DPP, they (Cabinet) knew as a Cabinet that they had not put anything in place,” Robinson-Regis said.
“So as a Cabinet, they were aware they were going against the undertaking they had made to the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago.”
She said Cabinet should take full responsibility and not just put Volney out to dry.
“We agree Minister Volney should go, but we also agree that the Prime Minister, as head of the Cabinet, should accept her role in this entire situation, and that the Attorney General is just as culpable.”
Robinson-Regis also suggested the AG knew more than was being let on.
“Having served in a Cabinet and having acted as Attorney General, I know that when the Chief Parliamentary Counsel (CPC) prepares a document to go to the President to say that there should be a proclamation, the Attorney General has to agree (first) to that document going to the President.”
Scoffing at Persad-Bissessar’s claim the CPC had cleared the AG of any role in sending Section 34 for proclamation, Robinson-Regis said, “The CPC can’t act without the Attorney General, agreeing that the proclamation will be made. The CPC can’t just prepare a proclamation and send it to the President. The Attorney General has to approve it.”
Robinson-Regis also disputed Persad-Bissessar’s claim the AG had been abroad when the Cabinet note was written.
“The AG came back into the country on the 4th (August), and on the 6th the Cabinet note was prepared. He was at Cabinet when the note was discussed, so all of that needs to be taken into consideration,” she said.
Robinson-Regis repeated the PNM’s stance that the Opposition would no longer work with the Government on any legislation. Asked about other legislative let-downs the Opposition had faced due to the Government, she recalled the on-off call by the Government to replace the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) for criminal appeals (but not civil appeals).
She said the Government had also let down the Opposition in Parliament over the Anti-Gang Bill and by the last national budget. In all three cases, the Government has defaulted on its promises made to the Opposition in luring its support for those bills.
“Consistently they have let down the people of Trinidad and Tobago. We think they are wholly incompetent and untrustworthy. Consequently, we’ll not be supporting them again,” she said.
Asked if she felt Volney should also be removed as St Joseph MP if he had misled Parliament, she said, “There’s always the possibility an MP or a Minister could be censured (by Parliament) for lying to Parliament. No decision has been taken with regards to that, in terms of the PNM.”
Would the PNM urge the Prime Minister to try to sack him as MP too?
“I don’t think that is for the PNM to do,” she said.
“We have made our point and we have also said that the Attorney General also needs to be removed. Now it’s much easier to remove a Senator, if the Prime Minister is of the view that a Senator has done wrong.”
She said the PNM had also not made any decision on PNM MP Colm Imbert’s call for a police probe of Volney (in an alleged conspiracy to pervert the course of justice).