ROWLEY : IT'S ALL LIES
By SEAN DOUGLAS Thursday, March 29 2012
JUSTICE Minister Herbert Volney yesterday said a Tobagonian haulier was prepared to give evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Attorney General (AG) on the Landate affair which Volney claimed could lead to the loss of office by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley.
In reply, Rowley said the Landate matter has been queried since 2003, and he has been cleared by a commission of inquiry and by two investigations by the Integrity Commission. Rowley also scoffed that Volney’s “source” was a UNC official whose evidence had in the past already been dismissed by the courts as being “a pack of lies”.
It all began when Volney, piloting the Legal Aid and Advice (Amendment) Bill 2011, hit out at Rowley’s earlier question about the credit card use by Minister of Tobago Development Vernella Alleyne-Toppin.
Saying people who allegedly live in glass houses must not throw stones, Volney said if the information he has is carried to its full length, the House would soon have a new Leader of the Opposition.
Volney said his source – a Tobagonian owner of dump-trucks, back-hoes and heavy equipment – has asked him if he could get legal aid if needed, in making his allegations. Volney alleged his source told him that certain materials were picked up at Scarborough Hospital and taken to Landate and the source’s name has been passed on to the Attorney General.
“I have had to advise this goodly gentleman, who now resides in Trinidad in my constituency, whose word I have no doubt I can believe...” began Volney, stopping short. “The Member (Rowley) should not push his head in a shell like a tortoise because these are facts that have every bit of evidence to believe to be true.”
Rowley, speaking to reporters at the tea-break, scoffed at Volney’s source and questioned Volney’s judgement in making the charge.
“As a citizen, it really bothers me to think Mr Volney was a judge in this country. I wonder what used to go on at the bench when he was a judge,” hit Rowley. “One associates a judge with a certain kind of perspective and behaviour and Mr Volney falls far short of that.”
Rowley related that the Landate allegations were made by former UNC MP Ganga Singh that Rowley was getting a facility from NH International to do his own construction in Tobago. “The fact is there was no construction taking place in Tobago, building any ‘apartments’ or whatever. My wife bought a piece of land, hired a contractor in Tobago to do a road development, land development.”
The matter was the subject of a commission of inquiry and was investigated by the Integrity Commission.
“The commission of inquiry found that the person to whom Mr Volney made reference today, this person who has asked him to come and lay charges against me, that person - the sole person making allegations against me in this matter - happens to be an executive officer of the UNC who was just re-elected not surprisingly, a former UNC candidate in Tobago, a fellow called Barrington Thomas,” said Rowley. “In the court of this country, his allegations have been described in an affidavit by Justice Annestine-Sealy as ‘a pack of lies’.”
“Annestine-Sealey’s affidavits in the court - as presented by Mr Douglas Mendes senior counsel - is that the allegations about Landate and me, and receiving facilities from NH, is a pack of lies. That was the outcome of the commission of inquiry.”
He said the commission of inquiry had not planned to call him, but he demanded to appear after his name was called by Singh and Thomas. “I sat there and was cross examined by Robin Montano, and notwithstanding what my political opponents may think or the tomfoolery of Volney, the outcome of that commission of inquiry was that I was found guilty of no wrongdoing and the testimony of the sole person making the allegation - Barrington Thomas - was deemed to be a pack of lies.”
Rowley said that at the urging of former elements in Udecott, the then Integrity Commission had picked up rumours and tried to make them into a case against him.
“That caused me to go to court, and I challenged the Integrity Commission in court, for accumulating rumour and ascribing it to me. It resulted in the Integrity Commission having to resign en masse and being found guilty in a court of law of misfeasance in public office.”
He said the court, in the proceedings, demanded that the Integrity Commission proceed to conduct an investigation to completion. The Integrity Commission complied.
“(The Commission) issued a document to me, which was published in this country, stating that having completed their investigations, they have found no basis to suspect I have been in breach of the (Integrity in Public Life) Act or have done anything wrong. So I don’t know what Volney is talking about.”
Rowley alleged that the Government’s stance is that their actions must not be queried because the Opposition somehow has some sort of “cocoa in the sun” and must stay quiet. He alleged that Government is letting its lawyer friends earn millions of dollars under the guise of investigating corruption. “Wouldn’t it be a hell of a thing in this country, where taxpayers are paying millions to ferret out corruption, when in fact the very corruption might well be the investigating of the corruption?” Saying the Landate charges have been made since 2003 to 2012, Rowley said, “If one is not going to be exonerated in this country by a commission of inquiry and two Integrity Commission investigations, where does one get exoneration?”
Newsday sources yesterday said a police probe into the Landate matter is still ongoing and should be completed soon.
The probe is being conducted by the Anti-Corruption Investigations Bureau (ACIB).
ACIB sources said a file on the Landate probe is to be sent to Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard SC for directions.
However, ACIB sources denied any knowledge of Volney’s information about a new witness stating that yesterday was the first time they had heard of new information coming forward.
Landate was a private housing development project at Mason Hall, Tobago which is owned by Sharon Rowley, wife of the Opposition Leader.
It was alleged during the commission of inquiry into the health sector that materials for use in the construction of the Scarborough Hospital were siphoned to the Landate project.
The police investigation of the Landate issue began in August 2006. On January 27, 2011, then Integrity Chairman Dr Eric St Cyr revealed there was no probe into Rowley. St Cyr had said the matter had come to an end and he knew that a letter was issued to Rowley. The matter was referred to the Integrity Commission by former Prime Minister Patrick Manning.