PM confirms receiving Paria enquiry report

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

The Prime Minister is cautioning that the report from the Commission of Enquiry (CoE) into the deaths of four divers while they were doing maintenance work on an underwater pipeline belonging to Paria Fuel Trading may not be made public.

Dr Rowley suggested however, if this were to happen, it would be because of issues outside of his control.

Speaking at a press conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann's, Rowley said he received a copy of the report several nights ago and has read the executive summary.

He was unable to give a time frame for publishing the report but called for patience from the public.

“I trust that it doesn't matter how anxious one is, that you will allow the Cabinet to receive it. As soon as the Cabinet would have received it, the Cabinet will then look to lay it in the appropriate place, as soon as possible…it will come to the Parliament at the earliest…And I trust the legal conundrums will be worked out as we go forward.”

Rowley also rebuffed suggestions that the Cabinet might alter the Paria report before it was made public. He said the government did not influence the initial investigation and even agreed to the CoE,
which it also did not attempt to influence.

“The bottom line is, a CoE was allowed to sit unimpeded, gather evidence, come to conclusions, and eventually the report came…

"So this question about the report being sanitised (is) absolute nonsense. There's no intention whatsoever to have anything done to the report in the context of sanitising and protecting A, B, C or D.

"The report goes to the responsive body, which is the Cabinet, and it will then move on to the Parliament. And I trust the legal conundrums will be worked out as we go forward.”

Explaining the possible legal challenge,
he noted, as an example, the report from the Clico Inquiry which never made it to Parliament.

Rowley said after receiving that report, he was directed not to lay the document in Parliament, as it could have affected a possible criminal prosecution.

“I shared it with the Attorney General, and if my memory serves me right, it was shared with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), because in that report there was a specific recommendation that two or three people should face further criminal examination.

"As I attempted to put that report in the Parliament, the DPP intervened and basically directed that the report not be laid in the Parliament because it would influence negatively or inappropriately the criminal prosecution that was imminent.”

Rowley said he was unsure of the status of the then “imminent” prosecution, and dismissed claims that he was hiding that report.

“It may have happened and I didn't notice, or it is happening and I don't know, but as far as I'm aware, that report is still under that sanction.

"In the meantime, I've listened to some of my colleagues, parliamentarians, again, accusing me and the government of hiding the report and leaving it on the shelf to gather dust and those kinds of comments.

"I could tell you none of those comments have any validity. The only reason why that report was not laid in the Parliament was because of the request of the DPP to refrain from doing so, so as to allow certain criminal prosecutions to take place."

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