[UPDATED] Court clears way for prosecution of ex-AG for alleged witness tampering

Justice Nadia Kangaloo
Justice Nadia Kangaloo

A HIGH Court judge has dismissed the constitutional claim filed by former attorney general Anand Ramlogan relating to his criminal prosecution for witness-tampering. 

Justice Nadia Kangaloo delivered her ruling on July 5. This now clears the way for the criminal charges against Ramlogan to proceed in the magistrates’ court.

Ramlogan was charged in 2017 on charges of misbehaviour in public office and obstruction of justice.

The allegation surrounds an allegation by the director of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) David West that Ramlogan approached him to withdraw his witness statement in a defamation case against then-opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley in 2014, in exchange for being appointed as PCA director.

The former attorney general is accused of obstructing justice by using threats and bribery to persuade West not to give evidence in Ramlogan’s defamation case against Rowley. Ramlogan is also accused of misbehaving in public office by improperly endeavouring for West not to testify on Rowley’s behalf.

 The offences are alleged to have taken place in October 2014, while he was attorney general, and former police commissioner Gary Griffith, who is a witness in the case, was national security minister.

Shortly after former acting police commissioner Stephen Williams initiated an investigation into the allegations in February 2015, then-prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar fired Ramlogan and Griffith.

In her ruling, Kangaloo said there were no breaches of Ramlogan’s constitutional rights, as the State acted within the legal boundaries.

On July 11, 2022, when the preliminary inquiry into charges against Ramlogan was expected to begin, his attorneys asked for a referral to the High Court. Former chief magistrate Maria Busby Earle-Caddle agreed with the referral after she was told if the challenge was successful, the State might not be able to continue to prosecute Ramlogan.

In his constitutional claim, Ramlogan contended his constitutional rights, including the rights to his private and family life, were breached when three High Court judges and a magistrate granted warrants to police to tap his phone lines in 2019.

He also contended one of the judges issued  unlawful warrants  for the interception of communication data; the unlawful retrieval and collection of communications data warrants under the Interception of Communications Act (IOCA); and “the apparent bias” of the judge who issued five interception orders on May 14, 2019.

“The essence of these complaints is that the State misapplied primary legislation, namely the IOCA, to secure access to private telecommunications data belonging to the accused, and that upon this being pointed out, wrongfully and in bad faith misused the warrant process under Section 5 IOPEA (Indictable Offences (Preliminary Enquiry) Act),” the complaint said.

Kangaloo also said there was no appearance of bias on the part of the judge, and Ramlogan had not yet demonstrated he suffered prejudice. She also said the admissibility of the evidence obtained by the warrants had not yet been determined, as a ruling on the evidential objections had been put on hold until she gave her ruling, and described the complaint as jumping the gun.

 She also ruled that Ramlogan had the full ambit of rights to a fair trial and did not demonstrate he had suffered any loss through the obtaining of the warrants, as the magistrates court was yet to rule on the evidential objections. She said after that was done, if he had complaints, he could return to the High Court with another challenge.

In her ruling, which she read out during a virtual hearing, Kangaloo also dismissed Ramlogan’s complaint of a conspiracy against him, as she found there was no malicious intent on the part of the police in obtaining the warrants.

She also said there was no evidence of an inability to defend himself, adding that the warrants were lawfully sought and nothing precluded the police from obtaining such warrants if there was a reasonable suspicion a crime had been committed. Kangaloo also dismissed Ramlogan’s claim of entitlement to compensation for alleged breaches of his rights. 

“The court has not found that the claimant has established a breach of his rights.”

Ramlogan and former UNC senator Gerald Ramdeen also faced criminal charges in an alleged legal fees-kickback conspiracy with Jamaican King’s Counsel Vincent Nelson. They were charged in 2019, but  Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard, SC,  dropped those charges on October 10, 2022, after Nelson refused to testify against them until the end of his civil case over an alleged breach of an indemnity agreement with the government. 

Ramlogan’s legal team was led by King’s Counsel Peter Carter. Ian Benjamin, SC, and Tekiya Jorsling appeared for the DPP. Senior Counsel Rishi Dass led Raphael Ajodhia, and Kendra Mark-Gordon for the Attorney General.

Ramlogan was ordered to pay the AG’s costs of defending the claim. The DPP was an interested party to the matter.

In a WhatsApp message to Newsday after the ruling, Ramlogan said, “We intend to appeal the judgment.”

He did not elaborate further. 

Attorney General Reginald Armour told Newsday, “Justice Kangaloo, an experienced and knowledgeable judge, will have ruled based on the evidence and the law, having listened to both sides in this very serious matter.”

He added, “The case against Mr Ramlogan, which will now continue in the Magistrates Court, contains grave criminal charges.”

Asked about the state’s next steps, Armour said, “The Director of Public Prosecutions will be instructed by today’s outcome and will be best positioned to provide guidance on the next steps in the state’s matter against Mr Ramlogan.”


"[UPDATED] Court clears way for prosecution of ex-AG for alleged witness tampering"

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