Massive muddles

Attorney General Reginald Armour - SUREASH CHOLAI
Attorney General Reginald Armour - SUREASH CHOLAI

IT HAS been a bad week for Reginald Armour.

The Attorney General faced a barrage of questions after the High Court awarded $20 million in damages in a lawsuit against the State which was left undefended.

Then, the lapse of judgment evident in Mr Armour’s handling of US litigation relating to the billion-dollar Piarco International Airport corruption case was all but confirmed by the throwing out of his appeal of his disqualification in the matter.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General’s appearance at a media conference on Wednesday, in which he gave a rushed, provisional summary of what supposedly occurred in relation to the handling of the million-dollar lawsuit brought by the accused men in the Naipaul-Coolman case, also drew derision.

Within minutes, commentators pointed to the entry of appearances in the case by lawyers for the State and procedures whereby notice of default judgments is given to parties.

On Friday it was announced that retired Justice of Appeal Stanley John would join retired Justice of Appeal Rolston Nelson, SC, as being among those who would investigate what Mr Armour deemed as the disappearance of the Naipaul-Coolman case file.

But the first of these eminent figures was recently commissioned by the National Security Council to probe firearms licence systems in circumstances now subject to litigation, while the second was once the PNM’s choice for President.

It is likely, therefore, that questions will be raised about whether these highly competent figures are the ideal candidates for a probe that has already, thanks to Mr Armour himself, begun to take on political overtones.

All of this raises troubling questions about the operations within Mr Armour’s ministry.

Having declared a conflict because he once represented one of the targets of the American Piarco litigation, Mr Armour did not truly wall himself off.

Worse, his representations to the court subsequently, including a claim to being a junior notetaker, plainly contradicted the public record.

The Attorney General has now been rejected at least three times by US judicial officers: the trial judge disqualified him; a motion to expedite an appeal was rejected; and the judges have now rejected his appeal.

All of this compounds the sense that things are snowballing under his feet in a manner that does not inspire confidence.

It is hard to imagine two higher profile cases than the Piarco case and the Naipaul-Coolman matter. Mr Armour, who has only been in office for a few months, is now at the centre of missteps in relation to both.

Where there is smoke there is often fire. We find it difficult to see how Mr Armour’s credibility can, especially after this week’s performance, survive this blaze.


"Massive muddles"

More in this section