Saddam Hosein: What were SCs paid for indemnity advice?

Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein.
Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein.

BARATARIA/SAN JUAN MP Saddam Hosein has called for the disclosure of the fees paid to two senior counsel who advised on granting indemnity to King's Counsel Vincent Nelson in a deal by then attorney general Faris Al-Rawi for Nelson's testimony against former attorney general Anand Ramlogan and attorney Gerald Ramdeen on corruption charges.

The case has since collapsed, with Nelson's refusal to testify until his civil lawsuit was heard for the State's alleged breach of his indemnity agreement.

Hosein made his call on Sunday at a briefing at the Opposition Leader's office in Port of Spain. He recalled Al-Rawi citing the two senior counsel – Douglas Mendes and Gilbert Peterson.

"I'm sure the advice was not free," Hosein said, calling for a disclosure of the amount of the fees paid to them.

Hosein also called for the publicising of their legal advice and opinion, saying this had been paid for by taxpayers’ money.

He quoted a 2016 ruling by Justice Peter Jamadhar that public-interest considerations of transparency and accountability could outweigh professional privilege (that is, privacy rights).

Hosein quipped that the attorney who had fought to get this ruling was, ironically, Peterson himself.

"Gilbert Peterson is telling us that legal opinions ought to be made public."

Hosein then complained about "secret justice" in this whole matter. He said after Nelson's indemnity deal in 2017, the government had proposed the Evidence (Amendment) Bill 2019, which allowed for the identity of a witness in a court case to be concealed. Under this measure, secret witnesses could testify against accused individuals, Hosein lamented.

"This is secret justice. This is persecution, public persecution. A bill was in Parliament allowing secret witnesses and all the time they hand in their hand an indemnity saying they won't disclose your (Nelson's) name!"

He said, "The Law Association needs to speak out against this matter in a fulsome manner, in a strong manner, asking for criminal proceedings to be commenced against senior officials of this PNM Government."


"Saddam Hosein: What were SCs paid for indemnity advice?"

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