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Tuesday 10 December 2019
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Afra Raymond takes JCC to court

Chartered Surveyor and activist Afra Raymond.
Chartered Surveyor and activist Afra Raymond.

Afra Raymond, former president of the Joint Consultative Council for the construction sector (JCC), has taken the organisation to court over a newspaper advertisement.

The JCC paid for the advertisement, which sought to distance itself from a letter Raymond wrote about the need for increased penalties for people found guilty of failing to appear before a commission of inquiry.

Raymond resigned from the JCC on November 6, 2015, after tensions within the organisation.

His letter was written on September 2015, and he testified on Tuesday that he had inferential approval for the subject of his letter.

In its disclaimer, the JCC referred to Raymond’s letter and said it was published without the JCC's knowledge or approval.

But, Raymond insisted that was not true and the letter was approved.

Under cross-examination by the JCC’s attorney Lesley-Ann Lucky-Samaroo, Raymond said he did not circulate a draft of the letter to all members.

The case is being heard by Justice Devindra Rampersad at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain. It continues on Wednesday, when former president Winston Riley is expected to testify.

Raymond was asked about his online blog, whether he considered himself a journalist – he said he did – his series of talks, Bussin' Files, and many of his newspaper columns.

He said he had had good relations with the other JCC members and staff.

“We had differences. It is the nature of the organisation,” he added.

He said at an emergency meeting on October 1, 2015, Riley raised the prospect of the JCC being sued because of his letter. He also admitted there was nothing in the JCC’s disclaimer which spoke of his being fired from the organisation.

Also testifying was Desiree Lopez-Arthur, the secretary at the JCC, who took minutes of meetings. She was questioned by Raymond’s attorney Justin Phelps on what took place at a few meetings. She was the one who circulated Raymond’s letter to the other members and was copied on their reply e-mails.

She also testified to a meeting held on November 2, 2015, at which former president of the JCC Emile Elias, head of the TT Contractors Association Mikey Joseph and herself spoke of Raymond’s competency and the “fantastic job he was doing” as president.

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