CJ Sat Sharma did nothing wrong
Friday, December 21 2007
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CJ Satnarine Sharma...
THE long-awaited report of the Mustill impeachment tribunal was finally presented to President George Maxwell Richards yesterday.
After reviewing the evidence before them during nine days of public sittings, the tribunal found no evidence to impeach Chief Justice Sat Sharma. In the 58-page report, the tribunal addressed many issues, among them the public arrest of the Chief Justice and placing him in the dock in court to face his accuser, Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls.
Following receipt of the report, President Richards revoked the suspension, paving the way for Sharma to return to work today.
The following is the report of the tribunal:
IN THE MATTER OF AN ENQUIRY UNDER SECTION 137 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
REPORT OF TRIBUNAL
TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
A. The Appointment
1. By a letter dated 16 May 2007 the Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, acting pursuant to section 137(3) of the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, represented to Your Excellency that the question of removing the Honourable the Chief Justice from office under the said section 137 for misbehaviour ought to be investigated.
2. Section 137 of the Constitution provides in part as follows:
“(1) A Judge may be removed from office only for inability
to perform the functions of his office (whether arising from infirmity of mind or body or any other cause) or for misbehaviour/ and shall not be so removed except in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(2) A judge shall be removed from office by the President where the question of removal of that JUdge has been referred by the President to the Judicial Committee and the Judicial Committee has advised the President that the Judge ought to be removed from office for such infirmity or for misbehaviour.
3. Where the Prime Minister, in the case of the Chief Justice, or the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, in the case of a Judge other than the Chief Justice, represents to the President that the question of removing a Judge under this section ought to be investigated then:-
(a) the President shall appoint a tribunal which shall consist of a chairman and not less than two other members, selected by the President acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister in the case of the Chief Justice or the Prime Minister after consultation with the Judicial and Legal Service Commission in the case of Judge, from among persons who hold or have held office as a Judge of a court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in some part of the Commonwealth or a court having jurisdiction in appeals from any such court;
(b) the tribunal shall enquire into the matter and report on the facts thereof to the President and recommend to the President whether he should refer the question of removal of that Judge from office to the Judicial Committee; and
(c) where the tribunal so recommends, the President shall refer the question accordingly.”
4. By an Instrument of Appointment dated 18 May 2007 Your Excellency, acting in accordance with a representation by the Prime Minister and in exercise of the power conferred by section 137(3)(a) of the Constitution, appointed the under-named as members of a Tribunal directed to enquire into the matter and report on the facts thereof and to recommend whether your Excellency should refer the question of the removal of the Honourable the Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma from office to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
4. The Members of the Tribunal thus appointed are:
Sir Vincent Floissac
Mr C Dennis Morrison, Q.C. Lord Mustill (Chairman)
B. The Scope of the Enquiry
5. It is important to emphasise at the very outset the boundaries of the present Enquiry, which has throughout been the subject of intense interest and comment amongst the peoples of Trinidad and Tobago. In its judgments on a related aspect of the present controversy the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council described the case as one of “. .. acute sensitivity and rnornent.. “, in which “there are some features ... which are to our mind troubling both individually and collectively”, This preliminary assessment has been amply vindicated by events. The picture presented to this Tribunal almost defies belief. We find contradictory accounts given by the Chief Justice and the Chief Magistrate (Mr Sherman McNicolls) on oath, of meetings between them where the discrepancies cannot be explained away by misunderstandings or poor recollection. We see the Chief Justice publicly arrested, and later ushered three times into the dock in a criminal court to undergo a summary trial on charges based on allegations by the Chief Magistrate, and then on the last occasion ushered out again in consequence of the refusal by the Chief Magistrate to give evidence against him. During the oral hearings before us we have heard counsel for the Chief Justice publicly accusing the Chief Magistrate of having been bribed to mls-try criminal proceedings against the leader of the opposition party, a former Prime Minister. We can study the battle of press releases between the Chief Justice, the Chief Magistrate and the Attorney General (Mr John Jeremie), putting their accusations directly before the public. We see formal complaints made by the protagonists to disciplinary and police authorities within days of the controversy coming to a head. We have heard allegations against the Attorney General, who could have given oral evidence to rebut them, but did not. The air was full of rumour, innuendo and gossip, around and across deep political (and, we are forced to say, ethnic) divides. At least within this narrow field of view, the concept of the separation of powers seems to have been ignored. We need not go on. The picture is “troubling” indeed, both for the Tribunal and for the peoples of Trinidad and Tobago.
6. In the light of all this, and more, it would be understandable if members of the public were to expect the present Enquiry to lift the lid off public life in Trinidad and Tobago, to discover what is going wrong, and propose some means of improvement. Understandable, but mistaken. The Tribunal has no authority to go beyond the mandate conferred by its Presidential appointment, even to chase down some of the loose ends which it has been forced to leave untied, a function for which it would in any event have lacked the means.
7. The task must therefore be to ascertain what, in the language of section 137(3)(b), is “the matter” which the Tribunal is authorised and req uired to investigate. Plainly, this cannot be the question completely at large whether the Chief Justice is fit to continue in office. The Tribunal cannot have been intended to trawl through his past behaviour, to see whether faults of any description could be brought to light which might qualify as “misbehaviour”. Instead, we must be qulded by the terms in which the Prime Minister described the subject-matter in his letter of representation dated 18 May 2006, which led Your Excellency to launch the impeachment. Since the full text of that letter is set out in Annex A hereto there is no need to summarise it, beyond saying that it contained a list of documents which the Prime Minister had considered and which he appended to his letter, followed by a compressed narrative of the history. When studied in detail, which there is no need to do here, these materials show quite clearly that the representation was made because the Prime Minister found sufficient prima facie evidence within them that the Chief Justice had sought to influence the Chief Magistrate in his decision in criminal proceedings against Mr Panday, by things said in the course of meetings taking place between them on occasions during March, April and May 2006. That much is not in dispute, but there is a troublesome doubt concerning the precise identity of the conduct of which complaint is made. At the head of the list of documents considered by the Prime Minister is a reference to “the Chief Magistrate’s statements dated 5 May 2006 and 11 May 2006”; and the history of events again referred to the Chief Magistrate’s “two statements”. On the other hand, the letter describes the first statement as embodying “the Chief Magistrate’s complaint” in the singular, an expression which is used again when the Prime Minister, in describing the test to be applied, identified it as whether “the Chief Magistrate’s complaint has prima facie sufficient basis in fact and is sufficiently serious to warrant the making of a representation to you “,/I
8. Plainly, the language of the letter leaves room for doubt. One view is that the “complaint” which set in train the impeachment process and determined its subject-matter is to be found only in the first statement, and that the second statement is no more than an “embellishment” (a term much used at the hearing) of what is there contained, of no more decisive effect than the other documents listed in the letter. Alternatively, it may be said that the two constitute a single whole, and that they must be read together to ascertain what case was made against the Chief Justice.
9. On a lingustic analysis the first interpretation is, perhaps, marginally to be preferred, and it cannot be overlooked that it was the first statement which set loose the intensive activities during the first two weeks of May 2006, which we shall summarise at a later stage. But the context of the letter points the other way. Its object was to represent to Your Excellency that alleged misbehaviour, consisting of dealings between the two judicial figures, ought to be investigated. These dealings were described in each of the two statements, both of which were before the Prime Minister when he wrote his letter, and both of which featured prominently in the letter. There is no reason why the Prime Minister should have wished the proposed Enquiry to concentrate exclusively on the allegations set out in the first statement, and to decide by reference to those alone whether the conduct of the Chief Justice reached the level of misbehaviour, when the second statement described the same meetinqes in terms which were more circumstantial. The obvious purpose was to initiate an impeachment based on the revelations of the Chief Ma gistrate, and to do so on that basis of only half the available material would have had no purpose.
D, This being so, we marginally prefer to read the scope of the Enquiry as extending to the allegations contained in both statements, whilst noting that (as will be seen from paragraph 28 below) (I) the addition of the second statement makes little practical difference to the scope of the allegations contained in the first, and (il) the real significance of the “ernbelltshments” lies in the light which they shed on the reliability of the Chief Magistrate’s evidence ... At this point the logical course would be to set out the substance of the two statements. This would, however be unhelpful, since the statements cannot be understood in isolation, and need to be read against the background of two sequences of contemporary events, namely the trial of Mr Basdeo Panday, and the land transactions of the Chief Magistrate. To these we now turn.
C. Essential Background
e Prosecution of Basdeo Panday
The Integrity in Public Life Act, 1987, the immediate predecessor of the current Act of 2000, required every person in public life to file annually with the Integrity Commission a declaration of income, assets and liabilities for the preceding calendar year. In the course of September 2002 Mr Baseo Panday, a former Prime Minister and latterly the leader of the opposition party, was charged summarily under section 27(1)(b) of the 1987 Act as follows:-
“The Defendant on Friday 9th April 1999 at Port of Spain, in the County of St George West knowingly made a declaration, namely Declaration of Income, Assets and Liabilities for the year ended 31st December 1997, that is false in a material particular in that he, the said Baseo Panday, failed to include in the said declaration, money held in account No: 39036189 at the National Westminster Bank Pic, London, England, in the name of the said Baseo Panday and Oma Panday.”
The two other charges were identical to the first except that they related respectively to the years 1998 and 1999. Mr Panday denied all the charges.
13. The resulting proceedings were very slow, partly because of an intervening constitutional motion, and it was not until 20 March 2006 that they came to trial before the Chief Magistrate, sitting alone. Senior Counsel for the prosecution was Sir Timothy Cassel QC. Senior Counsel for Mr Panday was Mr Allan Newman QC.
14. After the close of the prosecution case, Mr Panday gave evidence on his own behalf. In essence, his defence was that he was unaware that he was the beneficial owner, solely or jointly, with his wife Oma Panday of substantial funds standing to the credit of the joint account identified in the charges. The first week of the trial ended on Friday 24 March 2006. It was resumed on the following Monday 27 March, when two further witnesses were called by the defence. The first was Lawrence Duprey, Executive Chairman of CL Financial Limited, the holding company of a powerful group of enterprises carrying on business in the Republic and elsewhere in various financial fields. (Members of the group were often referred to generically by the acronym “CLICO”). The gist of this evidence was that Mr Duprey or one of his companies had furnished a large sum for the education in England of Mr Panday’s daughters, and that this was the source of the funds in the joint account wh ich Mr Panday had not declared. It is of some relevance to the present Enquiry that one aspect of Mr Duprey’s evidence was to the effect that it was a well-known feature of Hindu family life that financial matters were handled by the wife or mother. This proposition, which had evidently not been foreshadowed in evidence or cross-examination during the previous week’s proceedings, formed one of the bases of a submission that the defendant had not known that there were funds standing to the joint names of himself and his wife which he ought to have disclosed and was unaware at the time of the alleged educational funding, which was a matter between his wife and Mr Duprey. Evidence of the financial role of a Hindu wife was also given by a religious advisor to the family (“the Pundit”) .. At the conclusion of the trial the Chief Magistrate reserved his decision until 24 April 2006, on which date he convicted Mr Panday on all three charges, and imposed concurrent sentences of two years imprisonment on each (the maximum) together with fines.
15. Mr Panday immediately lodged an appeal against his convictions, which came on for hearing during January 2007. In the event the hearing of the appeal took place in two stages. At the end of argument on the first stage the Court reserved its decision, but before judgment was delivered there occurred the collapse of the prosecution of the Chief Justice, in which (as we describe below) the Chief Magistrate had played the central part. The case was relisted for the Court to receive argument on the implications of that event. Ultimately judgment was delivered allowing the appeal on the grounds of “apparent bias” of the Chief Magistrate, “actual bias” being expressly disclaimed.
16. It is unnecessary and undesirable to comment on the full and careful judgments of the Court, beyond noting that the thrust of the reasoning was that the Chief Magistrate had kept to himself important matters which should have been disclosed to counsel. A few lines from the judgm ent of Warner J.A., the meaning of which will become clear later in this Report, are enough to show how the matter was viewed.
“23 .... “ I think that the Chief Magistrate had a duty in the circu mstances to inform the parties about all the matters which were troubling him - the cheque; his approach to the Attorney-General; and his fear about the conversations, which he said, he had with the Chief Justice.
24. The fair-minded and informed observer would be presumed to know that Mr. Duprey was a contact in the case and that the Chief Magistrate had made some connection between the cheque and that witness, and that knowledge would lead to a feeling that Mr Panday had been unfairly treated, because he did not know the circumstances and the extent to which the communication had influenced the Chief Magistrate.”
17. Beyond this we should not go, except to record that the Court of Appeal ordered that the criminal proceedings against Mr Panday should be retried, and that matters have been before the Judicial Committee as a step towards deciding whether that order should be put into effect. No doubt, if a trial does take place the peoples of Trinidad and Tobago will follow it with the keenest interest, but the constraints of time do not permit us to wait.
The Chief Magistrate’s Land Transactions: Overt acts.
18. These are said to have furnished a motive for the Chief Magistrate to concoct a false story of his meeting with the Chief Justice. Leaving aside their acutely controversial aspects, to which we return below, the relevant events fell into four successive phases, as follows:
Second phase. The problem with Lot No. 96.
1. First phase. Uncompleted transactions.
During 9 June and July 2003 the Chief Magistrate initiated three successive transactions with HCL a company in the “CLICO” group in relation to parcels of land at Millennium Lakes, Trinclty. The first related to Lot No. 891 in respect of which a letter of offer was issued by HTML onto 16 June 2003. The price of the property was TT$2,6611248.301 of which the Chief Magistrate paid $1001000 as a reservation fee. Next, the Chief Magistrate expressed a wish to purchase Lot No. 991 in place of Lot No. 89 at a price of $2,0641621.31. HCL aqreed, and issued another letter of offer. On 27 June 2003 the Chief Magistrate paid to HCL a further $106A62.131 which together with the sum previously paid made up the required deposit of 10 per cent. Finally, only a week later, the Chief Magistrate changed his mind aqaln, this time in favour of Lot No. 67 at a price of $2A07,304.02. The same processes were effected as before, with the Chief Magistrate paying a further $341268.27 to make up the increased down-payment.
19. In the event, these transactions came to nothing, since the Chief Magistrate subsequently indicated that he was not interested in the purchase of Lot No. 67, and received a refund in respect of all the moneys paid. There is no suggestion that these incomplete transactions were otherwise than bona fide and we mention them only by way of background.
20. The next transaction, effected two years later, was much more substantial. It concerned Lot No. 96, a prime location for which the Chief Magistrate paid $3,617,8338.50 by two Republic Bank cheques, on 29 July 2005 and 12 August 2005, the funds being made available by loans from the Republic Bank. Within a few months the Chief Magistrate once again had second thoughts, no doubt reinforced by the fact that he wa s contemplating matrimony. On this occasion, however, the fact that the purchase had been completed stood in the way of an easy solution on the same lines as before. Since the capital borrowing, already a substantial multiple of the Chief Magistrate’s annual stipend, had only been repaid in part and was quickly building up interest, and under the terms of the loan agreement there might well have been a call for further security if repayment was not made on schedule, things were not looking bright for him. So matters stood at the start of the Panday trial.
Third Phase. The $400,000 Cheque
21. It is convenient to mention under the heading “Land Transactions” an important incident concerning a cheque for $400,000, which either was or was not an aspect of such a transaction, depending on whose account of events is to be believed. The few undisputed facts are as follows.
22. By the end of the week commencing 20 March 2006 the trial of Mr. Panday was in its final stages. The prosecution case had been closed on the previous Wednesday, and Mr Panday had given evidence on his own behalf on Friday 24 March. There remained only two further witnesses for the defendant, to be heard on the following Monday 27 March, with closing addresses on Tuesday 28 March. One of these witnesses, whose appearance came as a surprise to prosecution counsel, was Mr Lawrence Duprey, the President of the CLICO group, who testified that he had vol unteered “scholarship” funds for the education of Mr Panday’s daughter and that these were the sources of the monies which Mr Panday was accused of hiding. The other was the Pundit whom we have already mentioned.
23. On 28 March 2007 the day after Mr Duprey had given evidence for Mr Pandav, and while closing addresses were in proqress, a draft for the sum of $400,000 in favour of the Chief Magistrate was issued by Caribbean Money Market Brokersr an offshoot of the CLICO group. This came into the hands of the Chief Magistrate who on the same day delivered it to the Republic Bank for collection/ where the proceeds were credited to his account. Some few days later a messenger arrived at the office of Mr Anthony Maharaj, an executive in a CLICO company, with a draft dated 3 April 2006, made payable to him for the sum of $400,000/ issued by the Republic Bank and bearing the name of the Chief Magistrate. The cost of this draft was debited to the account of the Chief Magistrate with the Republic Bank.
Fourth Phase. The re-purchase of Lot 96.
24. As previously mentioned/ the attempts by the Chief Magistrate to unburden himself of Lot 96 had proved unsuccessful. No third-party buyer could be found, and HCL expressed itself unwilling to repurchase lots previously sold, since it was in business to sell land to new buyers, not to repurchase land already sold and then resell it. Nevertheless, during early May 2006 in a striking turn around of its previous stance, HCL which had previouslv dealt with the Chief Magistrate informed him that an associated company TMV would after all buy the Lot from him for $3,900,000. He agreed, and a sale was completed on this basis. At the hearing of this Enquiry there was a fruitless debate about whether this represented a profit or a loss for the Chief Magistrate. In reality, both views were correct. The outcome was a loss in the sense that the sum realised by the 2006 sale to TMV was less than the total of the original purchase price pius expenses and carrying charges. It was in a different sense a profit, since the realistic value of Lot 96 was less than the amount realised for it by the sale. On any view, the sale to TMV radically improved the financial situation of the Chief Magistrate.
25. We return now to the first two statements by the Chief Magistrate: “first”, because as the fall-out from them developed into various parallel
(2) “Sometime during the course of the Panday trial I was asked to see the Chief Justice and he told me to pay particular attention to what Mr Newman had to say because he was very good.”
(3) “The day after the evidence was completed (March 28th), I went to see the Chief Justice and he took me to his inner library within his chambers and began telling me the points I must note in my judgment 14 proceedings he made numerous statements, of which at least six have come before us by various routes.
D. The Heart of the Matter
26. Befo re we come to the Chief Magistrate’s two statements it is important to note that they were not the earliest communication by the Chief Magistrate of his complaint about the utterances of the Chief Justice. A few days after the verdict in the Panday trial he visited the Attorney General, on his own initiative, and told him of his concerns. According to the Attorney General he discussed the matter with colleagues and decided to take no action until the Panday trial was over. Turning to the Chief Magistrate’s two statements, copies of which we append as Annexes Band C. The first was made on 5 May 2006, some four days after HCL’s offer of a repurchase. It included a narrative in the following terms:
(1) “Sometime before the Panday trial started I met with the Chief Justice in his Chambers (and this has been the practice to meet from time to time as required) to discuss matters pertaining to the Magistracy, and any other matter he may wish to raise with me). During the course of that meeting, the Chief Justice on his own volition, told me that he was on a flight from London with Mr Cassell and told him it was the practice in Hindu families to have the wife take care of the finances of the home.”
For example, the charges were laid at a time when elections were in the air and there was a perception that the charges were politically motivated by the PNM and wives ran the finances in Hindu families, and in his view what the Defendant said was the truth. He further went on to tell me that I should prepare a draft right away as soon as I returned to my office that day and that I should show it to him before I gave my decision.”
(4) “I arrived around 8:30 a.m. and the Chief Justice greeted me warmly and then said Mr. Mac (as he normally called me) he heard that the PNM influenced me in the decision I made. He further told me that he heard that the Prime Minister had said to someone that he (the Chief Justice) tried to influence me in the matter, to which I replied that no one influenced me in the decision I made. He then asked me whether he ever influenced me in any matter, I gave a non-confrontational response to avoid an unpleasant scene in his office. If I were a weakminded Magistrate, I would have been persuaded to find a favour of the Defendant. He then asked me whether I owned land at Millennium Park to which I said yes. He inquired about payment of same and I told him I purchased same with a loan I obtained from Republic Bank L1mited, Princes Town.”
(5) “He then asked me for a statement that he never influenced me in any matter and I said okay to satisfy him at the time but on reflection I decided against giving it because if I had to give it! I would state the truth and it would be devastating to him. My office has since been besieged by calls from his office and I have deliberately not responded to them except in one instance when I was told that he want to see me at 11:30 a.m. that day and I told my Assistant to let his office know that I would be in court at that time and would let him know when I could attend. I was also told in a call from his office during the lunch break that said day that he wanted me to come with the Deborah Felix file, “
(6) “I am indeed saddened by the conduct of the Chief Justice which I find to be reprehensible and I am satisfied that the words spoken by the Chief Justice were intended to interfere with my judicial independence and I submit this delicate matter for your attention and consideration,”
(7) “At no time was my judgment compromised in any way either the by the media or the Chief Justice or anyone else in influencing me in the decision I made in the Panday matter.”
27, The Chief Magistrate’s account therefore comprised six alleged utterances by the Chief Justice namely:
(1) the Chief Justice’s alleged statement to Mr, Cassell that “it was the practice in Hindu families to have the wife take care of the family finances.”
(3) the Chief Justice’s alleged advice in relation to the points which the Chief Magistrate should note in his judgment,
(4) the Chief Justice’s alleged direction to the Chief Magistrate to produce a draft of his decision before it is given,
(5) the Chief Justice’s alleged repeated requests for a statement from the Chief Magistrate confirming that the Chief Justice had never influenced him in any matter, and
(6) the Chief Justice’s alleged interrogation of the Chief Magistrate in regard to the land owned by the Chief Magistrate at Millennium Park.
28, We come to the second statement, dated 11 May 2006. This was substantially longer than the first, covering similar ground but adding some extra material. It described four meetings between the Chief Magistrate and the Chief Justice: (i) on an unspecified date before the start of the Panday trial; (ii) on 21 March 2006 (the second day of the trial); (iii) on 28 March 2006 (the last day of the trial); (iv) on 1 May 2006, one week after the verdict and sentence.
29. It is convenient to isolate the new from the old in the materials presented in this statement. The allegations about what the Chief Justice said to the Chief Magistrate already contained in the first statement, and also reflected in the second statement, were as follows:
(a) Comments on the role of Hindu wives in family finances. (First and Third Meetings).
(b) What the Chief Justice had said to Sir Timothy Cassel about Hindu wives (First and Third Meetings) (See para, post).
(c) A recommendation that the Chief Magistrate should prepare a draft judgment and show it to the Chief Justice. (Third Meeting).
(d) A commendation of what Mr Newman QC had to say because he was very good. (Second Meeting).
(e) Enquiries by the Chief Justice about the Chief Magistrate’s land transactions. (Fourth Meeting).
(f) A request by the Chief Justice that the Chief Magistrate should make a statement that the former had never influenced him, a request with which the Chief Magistrate did not comply, (Fourth Meeting).
What was new in the Second Statement was that -
(a) The Chief Justice congratulated the Chief Magistrate on his conduct of the trial. (Second Meeting, which took place when the trial had only just begun),
(b) The Chief Justice conveyed the opinion that the evidence of Basdeo Panday was true. (Third and Fourth Meetings).
30 This account of the two statements is we believe enough to show that a close linguistic analysis of the Prime Minister’s letter is unlikely to prove decisive. Significant differences between the statements there undoubtedly are, but in the main the second is an “embellishment” of the first, rather than a major departure from it. This being so, there is no incentive to rule on whether the scope of the Enquiry is defined by the first statement, or by the two together. On either view the issue is one of credibility. Either we believe the Chief Magistrate’s story in its essentials, and give credit to his perception than he was the victim of improper efforts to unbalance his verdict, or we do not. If we do, there is in our opinion no alternative to a finding of misbehaviour. Otherwise, the charge must fail.
E. Two Weeks in May 2006
31 To understand the criss-crossing of accusations and investigations of which the narrow dispute before this Tribunal formed part, it is necessary to know something of what happened during the first two weeks of May 2006. It will be recalled that by the start of this period the Panday trial was over; the Chief Magistrate had gone to see the Attorney General with an account of improper pressure by the Chief Justice; the Chief Magistrate was trying to unload his unwanted land, but had not secured either a sale to a third party or a repurchase by HML; the Chief Magistrate had received the cheque for $400,000 and was in the course of returning the money; plans were afoot, allegedly at the instance of the Attorney General, to procure via Mr Montiel that the CUCO group would get the Chief Magistrate out of his difficulty.
2 The events in question may conveniently be summarised by reference to the activities of the three protagonists.
(1) The Chief Justice
(a) On or about 1 May the Chief Justice learned from Justice of Appeal John of a rumour that the Chief Magistrate’s name had been mentioned in connection with a “colourable” land transaction concerning Millennium Park.
(b) On the same day he was visited by the Chief Magistrate in connection with another matter. This was the fourth of the relevant meetings. He took the opportunity to mention the land transactions; to ask whether he had influenced him (the Chief Magistrate); and on receiving a negative answer to ask for a written report to that effect.
(c) During the next few days he made attempts to find out why the Chief Magistrate had not furnished the statement that he had not been the subject of improper pressure which (according to the Chief Justice) he had promised during the meeting.