Jairam: He’s trying to destroy me
By Andre Bagoo Sunday, October 21 2012
click on pic to zoom in
Seenath Jairam ...
THE WAR of words between Karl Hudson-Phillips QC and Seenath Jairam SC flared dramatically yesterday, when Jairam responded to Hudson-Phillips’ criticisms of him last week by accusing Hudson-Phillips of violating professional codes of conduct, showing crass and classless behaviour and of viciously trying to destroy him.
Referring to a letter Hudson-Phillips sent to Jairam last week, in which Hudson-Phillips criticised Jairam for accepting the brief from the Ministry of Finance for the Sir Colman Inquiry, Jairam said, “While you sought to berate, denigrate and belittle me by your letter, you demonstrated crass behaviour, not class, which is most unfortunate. As we get older, we should become wiser and gentler. Those are the hallmarks of a gentleman and a statesman.”
He added, “As you have done I am forwarding a copy of this letter to the press.” Hudson-Phillps had alleged Jairam breached professional ethics by accepting the brief earlier this month without conferring first with the previous lawyer, Fyard Hosein SC, and his team.
The QC had also alleged a conflict of interest because Jairam has acted on behalf of a team of policyholders in a class-action lawsuit against the State on the Clico matter, in what is known as the Farrell case. Hudson-Phillips also alleged a telephone conversation with Jairam shortly before Jairam ran for the post of Law Association president, in which the QC allegedly told off Jairam.
All of these claims were rejected by Jairam, who cited correspondence he sent to Hosein, said his involvement in the Farrell case ended before he took up the brief and denied details of his telephone conversation with Hudson-Phillips.
Jairam further lashed out at Hudson-Phillips, stating he was guilty of improper conduct in past cases and was “the last person in a position to castigate me for failure to uphold the highest traditions of the Bar”. Rather, Jairam said Hudson-Phillips’ actions were designed to destroy him.
“I was tempted to address you as ‘Dear Mamoo’ (Uncle), as I have for more than two decades at your insistence,” he said.
“However, you are not deserving of such accolade or reverence, as I cannot imagine my mother’s brother would want to destroy his nephew as you are attempting to do to me. It is clear to all that your letter dated l 8th October 2012, although addressed to me, was really meant for the press so as to enable you to obtain the fullest publicity of your vilification of my character and reputation by these unfounded and vile accusations against me; this was obviously your intention.”
He added, “Perhaps because of your insatiable craving for the limelight despite our close relationship and your high regard for me over the years, you saw this as an opportunity to get back to centre stage once again. Karl, you denigrated me and used me as a scapegoat despite our long and close relationship over the years to seize media coverage.”
Jairam said Hudson-Phillips had praised him at his 60th birthday party as someone who had touched him. He thus accused Hudson-Phillips of hypocrisy.
“You claim to be the epitome of moral rectitude, but it is clear to those of our colleagues who know you well and have seen behind your façade that you are using me as a pawn in your quest for self-aggrandisement.”
Jairam noted he was in court very late last Thursday and queried whether Hudson-Phillips tried to send his letter to him before leaking the letter to the press, adding the letter contained “vicious and unfounded” allegations against him.
“Did you, send copies of this letter to the press? Did you not think that as a courtesy to a fellow attorney, you ought to have contacted me for a response before going to the press?” Jairam asked.
This, he said, was tantamount to a breach of the Legal Profession Act, which holds that a lawyer must, “maintain his integrity and the honour and dignity of the legal profession and encourage other attorneys-at-law to act similarly both in the practice of his profession and in his private life, and shall refrain from conduct which is detrimental to the profession or which may tend to discredit it.”
Jairam denied seeking Hudson-Phillips’ backing for the Law Association president post, as well as Hudson-Phillips’ claim that he had told off Jairam for contesting the post.
“I never solicited your support for my candidacy as president of the Law Association. Your memory of the telephone conversation I had with you in June of this year is either flawed, or you have deliberately distorted what transpired between us on that occasion; in view of the vicious charges and the hostility you have displayed towards me, the latter is more probable.”
Jairam said it was Hudson-Phillips who had his eye keenly on the post.
“It was well known in the profession that at one time you were interested in the presidency of the Law Association with Mr Ramesh Lawrence-Maharaj SC as vice-president; you wished to be unopposed,” Jairam said.
“Sometime later, you supported the candidacy of Mr Israel Khan SC for president when he threw his hat into the ring.
You well know, as it was widely publicised, that Mr Israel Khan SC made it clear that if you had decided to run for the presidency, he was prepared to step down and support you.
These matters were common knowledge in the profession.
“Against this background and despite our excellent relationship over the years, when I agreed to contest the presidency, I had no intention of calling you for support. How could I have asked for your support when I knew that Mr Khan SC had indicated he was prepared to stand down if you decided to run?”
Jairam said he “reluctantly” called Hudson-Phillips when attorney Larry Lalla advised him to do so.
“During our conversation, to which you have referred at the second paragraph of your letter, I want to emphatically state that you never told me: that another senior colleague was present; that you could not support me because you did not have confidence that my motivation was purely to advance the standing of the profession; that I was putting myself forward only to ingratiate myself with the executive to get briefs. Those statements are totally false and untrue,” he said.
Jairam accused Hudson-Phillips of “a pathetic lack of knowledge” of professional codes.
“It is clear from your letter and your haste to go to the press before calling me that you were not acting in good faith and demonstrated a patent lack of courtesy and fairness. Such conduct is clearly detrimental to the profession, especially from one who purports to hold himself out as the embodiment of ethical correctness and rectitude.”
Jairam said he fulfilled his duty to ensure Hosein and his team got paid by writing to this effect to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance on October 15. He accused Hudson-Phillips of not getting his facts correct.
“From the facts which I have disclosed it is obvious, and I have been advised by Senior Counsel both of your generation and subsequent, that I have fully complied with Paragraph 48 of the Code of Ethics which you have relied upon to castigate me. The same cannot be said of the contents of your letter,” Jairam said.