UNC senator Jayanti Lutchmedial has received the green light from the High Court to pursue a judicial review claim against the refusal of the Urban Development Corporation (Udecott) to disclose documents she requested in a freedom-of-information application.
On Friday, Justice Nadia Kangaloo granted Lutchmedial leave to pursue her claim against Udecott, while also setting a date for her ruling on the lawsuit.
On November 3, Kangaloo will rule on whether the UNC senator should receive the information.
The information Lutchmedial wants surrounds information she spoke about at a political meeting which included details relating to Youth Development and National Service Minister Foster Cummings.
At a UNC Monday Night Forum in May 2022, Lutchmedial released the contents of a Special Branch report on the minister.
Lutchmedial raised questions over a public entity's payment into the credit union account of a high-ranking public official. She said a cheque from the public body was also uncovered which had been made out directly to the credit union.
Cummings has since publicly clarified the business transactions and filed a defamation and libel claim against Lutchmedial as well as an injunction application.
The application took issue with her use of his financial records.
Cummings' claim is being heard by Kangaloo, who dismissed his application for the injunction.
In her application against Udecott, Lutchmedial said she was not just concerned over the amount of money paid to the minister but rather, the way the money was paid.
The application said “this is precisely why” she wanted the actual cheques paid by Udecott in the transaction to “ascertain whether there was a similar occurrence whereby the monies that were due and owing were paid over to a third party.”
In her freedom-of-information request to Udecott, Lutchmedial asked for copies of all contracts between Udecott and the companies referred to in the Special Branch report – Rivulet Investment Group and/or Cummings and Associated Ltd and/or Klyndon Enterprises Ltd and/or Pical Services Ltd and/or Juliet Modest and/or Foster Cummings from 2010 to the present. Her request was made on June 28, 2022.
She also wanted a statement of all monies paid to those entities and copies of all cheques in relation to contracts with those companies, among other information.
After two extensions were requested to respond to the request, she received information on the statement of money paid to the companies and Udecott’s policy. But Udecott said the cheques were exempt as they involved unreasonable disclosure of the personal information of an individual.
Lutchmedial's application said, “The FOIA seeks to promote accountability, transparency and increased public participation in the development of national policy by extending to members of the public a general right of access to official documents in the possession of public authorities.
“The requested information is not privileged and even if it is, in the circumstances giving access to the documents is justified in the public interest having regard both to any benefit and to any damage that may arise from doing so.”
Lutchmedial is represented by Anand Ramlogan, SC, Renuka Rambhajan, Natasha Bisram, Robert Abdool-Mitchell and Vishaal Siewsaran.
Representing Udecott are Russel Martineau, SC, Kerwyn Garcia and Alana Bissessar.