Judge throws out Paula
By AZARD ALI Saturday, January 12 2013
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KICKED OUT: Point Fortin MP Paula Gopee-Scoon leaves San Fernando High Court yesterday after a judge ordered her to vacate a bungalow owned by State-c...
OPPOSITION People’s National Movement (PNM) Point Fortin MP Paula Gopee-Scoon has been ordered by a High Court judge to vacate a bungalow owned by State-entity Petrotrin at Clifton Hill in her constituency.
Petrotrin sued Gopee-Scoon for Bungalow No 130, stating the premises was needed to house Petrotrin staff. Justice Vasheist Kokaram, in the San Fernando High Court, ordered Gopee-Scoon to leave the bungalow by March 9.
Gopee-Scoon was present in court yesterday for the hearing after she refused to vacate the bungalow even after Petrotrin wrote her a letter. In dealing with the issue of rent which the company lost as a result of Gopeesingh-Scoon’s failure to vacate the premises, Petrotrin attorney Prakash Deonarine told the judge that Gopee-Scoon’s defence to the lawsuit was nothing short of political patronage.
Gopee-Scoon contended that she entered into a licence agreement, a year after she was elected MP for Point Fortin in 2007, to occupy the bungalow in her capacity as Parliamentary representative for the area. She refused to leave even after Petrotin sent her a letter.
In a lawsuit filed by law firm Girwar & Deonarine, Petrotrin contended that through its Policy/ Procedure Guide on Housing (Residential Properties), Petrotrin granted a licence to the defendant, dated November 26, 1998, to occupy the bungalow.
She was made Minister of Foreign Affairs and remained in occupation of the bungalow until her Parliamentary term ended. Gopee-Scoon was re-elected and remained in occupation of the bungalow.
On September 29, 2011, Petrotrin served notice on Gopee-Scoon to quit the premises, giving her until December 31 of that year to do so. Petrotrin stated that she refused to leave the bungalow and instead sent a letter to Petrotrin president Ken Allum, challenging the company’s decision to ask her to vacate claiming that although the PNM was no longer in office, she was still MP and was entitled to use of state property.
Petrotrin attorney Louise Poy Wing filed an affidavit stating Gopee-Scoon’s refusal to leave, cost the State company $1,260 per month in rental.
Yesterday, attorney Prakash Deonarine instructed by Deedra Maharaj and Poy Wing, represented Petrotrin in a management conference hearing in which the attorney for Gopee-Scoon, sought an opportunity to put in a defence on her behalf.
“Mi’lud, when one looks at the matter there is no defence. Political patronage is not a defence,” Deonarine told the court. Justice Kokaram allowed both sides to discuss the matter and an agreement was reached which the judge ratified into an Order, that: Gopee-Scoon deliver vacant possession of the premises situated at Bungalow No 130 Clifton Hill, Point Fortin, on or before March 9. The parties are to engage in discussion, the judge ordered, in relation to Petrotrin’s claim for profit from rental and to submit to the court a Consent Order on or before February 14.