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Wednesday 24 July 2019
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[UPDATED] Devant wants Darryl Smith report

DEVANT MAHARAJ
DEVANT MAHARAJ

FORMER UNC minister and political activist Devant Maharaj is looking for information on the payout to former Sports Minister Darryl Smith’s personal assistant.

Maharaj sought the information in a freedom of information application in November and he was denied on March 19.

On Friday, filed a judicial review application in the San Fernando High Court against the Office of the Prime Minister seeking leave to pursue his legal challenge.

The matter has been assigned to Justice Nadia Kangaloo but a date has not been set for the hearing of the application.

In his legal action, Maharaj wants the court to declare that the decision to refuse or deny him access to the information is illegal and irrational as well as a declaration that he is entitled to the information.

The former minister is represented by attorneys Anand Ramlogan,SC, Alvin Pariagsingh, Jayanti Lutchmedial and Che Dindial.

In his application for leave, Maharaj said in 2018, allegations of sexual misconduct by the former minister surfaced and it involved a settlement in the Industrial Court, of $150,000, being paid to an official from the ministry who made the allegations and who also alleged she was wrongfully dismissed from her job at the ministry.

He said the settlement included a non-disclosure agreement and Smith was eventually fired as a minister.

Maharaj said he has kept abreast of the story through media reports and attached eight of them from the three daily newspapers and online articles in support of his application.

He said the report of a committee appointed to review the dismissal and payment of compensation to the former minister’s personal assistant has never been made public.

“In light of recent times, where there have been local and international social movements for women’s rights such as the “#MeToo movement” and worldwide condemnation of sexual harassment against women, the applicant is of the view that the documents surrounding this investigation should be disclosed in the public interest as Mr Darryl Smith is still a member of Parliament and the settlement is shrouded in secrecy.

“General elections are due next year and the public is entitled to know the details of this matter so that they can determine if it should be taken into consideration when they exercise their right to vote.

“This more so, if Mr Smith decided to offer himself for re-election,” the application said.
It also added that, if the settlement involved taxpayers’ money, it raised the question of whether there was unauthorised use of public funds and abuse of public office.

“There is a clear need for transparency and accountability in this matter as there is great public disquiet about the secretive manner in which it was resolved and swept under the carpet using the political device of the appointment of the investigating committee,” the application said.
Maharaj wants the report give to the prime minister from the committee and a copy of the settlement agreement.

In April, Prime Minister Dr Rowley told the Parliament the report had hit a snag as it was now the subject of a legal challenge.

He said under the advice of the Attorney General’s office, the matter was under review and once that was completed, the report would be laid in Parliament.

This story has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.


FORMER UNC minister and political activist Devant Maharaj is looking for information on the payout to former Sports Minister Darryl Smith’s personal assistant.

Maharaj sought the information in a freedom of information application in November and he was denied on March 19.

On Friday, filed a judicial review application in the San Fernando High Court against the Office of the Prime Minister seeking leave to pursue his legal challenge. The matter has been assigned to Justice Nadia Kangaloo but a date has not been set for the hearing of the application.

In his legal action, Maharaj wants the court to declare that the decision to refuse or deny him access to the information is illegal and irrational as well as a declaration that he is entitled to the information.

The former minister is represented by attorneys Anand Ramlogan,SC, Alvin Pariagsingh, Jayanti Lutchmedial and Che Dindial.

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