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Monday 9 December 2019
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PM: No action on CJ

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley  PHOTO SUREASH CHOLAI
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley PHOTO SUREASH CHOLAI

PRIME Minister Dr Keith Rowley will not invoke impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Ivor Archie to have a president-appointed tribunal established to look into the CJ’s conduct in office.

Dr Rowley made the revelation at Thursday’s post-Cabinet media briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's.

Asked by a member of the media on his decision on the Law Association’s report and request for him to determine if there was sufficient evidence to invoke section 137 of the Constitution, Rowley said weeks ago, he received legal advice that said he “did not need to” and “should not accede to the Law Association’s request.”

He said he was advised that he “should not take advice” from the association.

The association is expected to meet on Tuesday to discuss this latest position and will respond then.

Contacted for comment, the association’s president Douglas Mendes, SC, said he was in a meeting and could not speak.

In December, the association’s membership voted in favour of referring the allegations against Archie to the Prime Minister for further action.

Within days, the association sent its report, two legal opinions counsel, a letter from the CJ's lawyers calling on the association to declare there was no basis to make a reference to the PM under section 137 and the association's reply.

In its letter to the PM, the association’s secretary Elena Araujo admitted that its own committee was unable to substantiate some of the allegations against Archie, but was satisfied there was "sufficient substantiation" of others for referral to him.

Araujo also pointed out that there was a difference of opinion by the association's counsel as to which of the allegations, if true, constitute misbehaviour. "But, they were both of the view that the evidence gathered was sufficient to justify a referral by the Law Association to you under section 137."

"I wish to emphasis in closing that the association has made no finding of misbehaviour against the Honourable Chief Justice but only that there is sufficient evidence to support a referral under section 137 for you to determine whether a representation to Her Excellency the President under section 137 is warranted."

Months before the matter was referred to the prime minister, Archie lost a legal challenge, at the Privy Council, against the association allowing it to continue its own probe of the allegations of misconduct against him.

The Privy Council’s ruling held that the association had the power to make a formal complaint to the prime minister where justified and a duty to defend the Judiciary against unjustified criticism.

The association’s investigations surrounded allegations contained in media reports that accused Archie of attempting to persuade judges to change their State-provided security in favour of a private company where his friend, Dillian Johnson, worked.

Archie was also accused of attempting to fast-track Housing Development Corporation (HDC) applications for various people. He has denied discussing judges’ security, but admitted to recommending people for HDC housing.

He also said he did not “engage in any ‘lobbying’ of any person” to the HDC.

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