Law Association calls on PM to withdraw claims of impropriety

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. -
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. -

The Law Association has rejected claims made by the Prime Minister that it had tried to "entrap him" and "surreptitiously... make him a witness" three years ago in the investigation against Chief Justice Ivor Archie.

In a statement on Tuesday, the association said it was disappointed by Dr Rowley's "misleading comments" which were made on Saturday moments before he left the country for Suriname for a Caricom heads of government meeting.

The association called on him to withdraw the "allegations of impropriety."

Rowley had made reference to the association's actions in 2019 after it called upon him to trigger Section 137 of the Constitution to investigate allegations of impropriety against Archie, who was accused of using his influence to get Housing Development Corporation houses for people.

Rowley said the association tried to make him a witness and he had to use taxpayers' money to defend himself in the High Court.

The association said on Tuesday that while it did not wish to "rehash matters which are now several years old" it noted that part of the allegations against Archie was that he communicated with the Prime Minister.

The association said it had written to Rowley seeking a response to the allegation, because it held the view that if such communication did take place, it needed his response but did not get any. On July 22, 2019, Rowley responded to the association saying he would not trigger impeachment proceedings and only then stated he had "not received from the Chief Justice, nor have I sent any WhatsApp messages to him" in connection with the allegations.

As a result, Rowley told the association then, “Clearly I cannot ignore this fact, which effectively disposes of this complaint.”

The association said on Tuesday, had there been such communication between the PM and the CJ, Rowley would have had to reveal them and take them into account when considering whether or not to impeach Archie.

"The Law Association’s enquiry was neither surreptitious nor an attempt to entrap the Prime Minister as alleged or at all. These were questions the Law Association was required to ask the Prime Minister as part of our enquiry. It is indeed regrettable that comments on the matter have been expressed in a way which suggests that the Law Association acted improperly in discharging its legitimate functions," the association said.

It also weighed in on Rowley's criticism of the association convening a special general meeting to vote on a no-confidence motion against Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC.

Some members of the association have accused Armour of breaching the legal code of ethics after he filed a misleading affidavit in a Miami court linked to a US$40 million civil asset forfeiture case against people charged with criminal offences arising out of the construction of the Piarco Airport terminal building. The association said it was obligated to do so based on a legitimate request from its membership.

"Our members are fully entitled to engage this process and to ventilate matters which members view as falling within the mandate of the Legal Profession Act.

“The Law Association sought to gather relevant documentation on the matter, and has invited the Attorney General to respond to matters raised by members of the Law Association if he wishes to do so. The Law Association will proceed with appropriate deliberation observing the principles of fairness and natural justice."

The meeting will be held on July 15 at a venue yet to be decided.


"Law Association calls on PM to withdraw claims of impropriety"

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