Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has described Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s call for an “urgent and immediate investigation” into a possible breach of Integrity in Public Life Act by high ranking government member as “dangerously hypocritical and self-serving” by a former head of government.
In a statement on Friday, Persad-Bissessar said she wrote to the Commissioner of Police, the Director of Public Prosecutions and chairman of the Integrity Commission, stating there are “strong grounds for suspecting that several criminal offences may have been committed as well as the possible breach of several provisions of the Integrity in Public Life Act and the Code of Conduct.”
She said the recent disclosure of the report of a committee on a sexual harassment allegation against former minister Darryl Smith has raised an “undeniable prima facie case for the possibility of the commission of several very serious criminal offences, including conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice, misbehaviour in public office, and a breach of the Integrity in Public Life Act Chapter 22:01 by several persons” including the Prime Minister, the Attorney General, and the then permanent secretary in the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs.
However, in a release from his office, Rowley said the Opposition Leader “must know that the stymying of the publication and use of the investigative report is directly as a result of legal caution provided by authorities outside of the Office of the Prime Minister and the Office of the Attorney General.”“In fact, it was the Prime Minister who initially passed the report to the permanent secretary, without restriction, for any Public Service action which may be deemed necessary.
"It is in furtherance of this process that independent legal caution advised against advancing the report. This being the undisputed fact it is therefore dangerously hypocritical and self-serving for the Opposition Leader to join the ill-informed in talking about conspiracies to cover-up facts.”
He pointed out that Persad-Bissessar possessed “first-hand experience” as a prime minister who, “against proper advice, irresponsibly released a faulty report, in the Anil Roberts criminal Life Sport scandal and by so doing derailed the investigation and resulted in a successful court challenge by Mr Roberts.”
He said her action had resulted in huge costs to taxpayers following legal action by Roberts.
“It is against this background that I reject any notion of cover-up and I condemn the naked hypocrisy associated with this current accusation. However, I stand ready to fully cooperate with any investigating entity in the full knowledge that the public will benefit from the facts as separate from any speculation, conjecture or malice from any quarter.”