ON MONDAY, Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, described a ruling of the Privy Council handed down on that day as a “vindication” of the Government.
Mr Armour was referring to two cases that had been considered by the London-based court relating to covid19 regulations which impinged on sensitive religious freedoms and the right to assembly.
The Attorney General also took the opportunity to state another case – handed down by the Privy Council in May which upheld the mandatory death penalty and preserved the infamous “savings clause” – was also “ground-breaking” and had affirmed “the correctness of Government’s approach.”
Mere weeks ago, however, Mr Armour was singing a different tune.
In Parliament, the senator was lamenting this country’s failure to remove itself from the Privy Council, noting that court’s distance from “deep-seated societal” and “community issues.” A transition to the Caribbean Court of Justice, he said, was to be “a main plank” of his tenure.
What has changed?
The answer, perhaps, lies in another statement issued on Monday by Mr Armour, 65, in relation to his conduct in relation to the Piarco International Airport US lawsuit.
Given their timing, many will draw the irresistible inference that the two statements were not unrelated.
“I was at the time on holiday with my family and I did not have any papers,” the senior counsel stated, in an effort to explain discrepancies in his account of his prior involvement in the case. However, his prior role was, in his view, “immaterial,” since he had already “recused himself” from the case.
Mr Armour’s prior role as defence attorney was plainly not immaterial.
On March 30, it was the Attorney General who advised of his prior involvement during a teleconference. Having himself raised the issue as he sought advice from the US firm retained to prosecute the lawsuit, it was incumbent on him to ascertain his role to accurately instruct the lawyers.
But another breach came on April 24, the date on which Mr Armour went on the record in an affidavit misstating the extent of his involvement in the case. Even though he was abroad at the time, the “silk” and titular head of the Bar had many conduits at his disposal to inquire into his representation, if we accept that he had still, by this stage, misremembered.
It is disappointing that it could be inferred that self-preservation, not the duty to be an impartial legal adviser to the Cabinet, seems to be driving policy positions now emanating from Mr Armour's office, as evidenced by the recent spinning of court rulings.
And it is a shame that the care and diligence with which the Attorney General now seeks to safeguard the Piarco case, by going silent, was absent when it mattered most.