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CONSPIRACY

By Jada Loutoo Thursday, May 8 2014

click on pic to zoom in

DIRECTOR of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard, SC, says he is of the “unflinching view” that there is more than sufficient material in the ruling of High Court Master Patricia Sobion-Awai in the Jamal Sambury assault claim against the State to warrant a criminal investigation of conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice and conspiracy to defraud the State of Trinidad and Tobago.

Gaspard has since advised acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams to commence “forthwith” an investigation.

The DPP, on April 30, received from the Registrar of the Supreme Court a copy of the Master’s February 5 ruling as well as the transcript of the hearing of the procedural appeal of the proceedings on February 17.

In a statement yesterday, Gaspard said he perused the Master’s ruling as well as the transcript of the procedural appeal and “ethical considerations aside” he was “of the unflinching view that there is more than sufficient material contained therein to warrant an investigation into the commission of several offences including conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice and conspiracy to defraud the State of Trinidad and Tobago.”

“Thus, it is my unyielding and considered view that a criminal investigation should be commenced immediately into the circumstances surrounding the conduct of litigation in these matters,” Gaspard said.

“When I consider the nature and seriousness of this matter, the widespread public interest, the importance of the offices concerned and the necessity to ensure public confidence in them, as well as the fact that the primary body or person, charged with the prevention and detection of crime in Trinidad and Tobago is the Police Service (TTPS), I have decided to advise the Acting Commissioner of Police, Stephen Williams to commence an investigation forthwith,” the statement from the DPP said.

Gaspard added that “quite apart from any constitutional considerations” and “from a practical point of view,” it was clear that an investigation by the Police Service was the “most prudent course” as the TTPS has the resources and investigative experience for “such a serious task.”

Gaspard also said, “It is also clear that in terms of the acceptance of any investigative findings, both in the courts of Justice as well as the court of public opinion, such a course prevents any unfair allegation of bias being made about the Office of the Attorney General or the incumbent and ensures that any police investigation is not in any way contaminated.”

“It cannot be overstated that transparency is essential for there to be a fair and effective criminal justice system, one that will inspire public confidence in the administration of justice generally and in the specific context of due process and the rule of law,” the DPP concluded.

On May 2, Newsday reported the Master’s ruling has also been referred to the Disciplinary Committee of the Law Association by High Court Registrar Marissa Robertson.

Although neither the High Court Registrar in her letter to the Law Association and Gaspard in his statement yesterday called no names, attorney Gerald Ramdeen, who along with Varun Debideen represent Sambury, in an immediate reaction to the DPP’s statement said he welcomed the intervention of the DPP to “finally bring this matter to an end.”

“I am confident my name will be cleared in the end. I trust that there will be a speedy investigation to bring this matter to a conclusion,” he told Newsday. The issue of prison litigation came to the fore after former Solicitor General Eleanor Donaldson- Honeywell wrote to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on August 30, 2013, six months after Master Sobion-Awai found that significant portions of court filings from previous litigation by prisoners making claims against the State, were lifted by Sambury in his assault and battery claim.

The former Solicitor General in her letter to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar also asked her to investigate circumstances, “that may amount inter alia to breaches of professional ethics by the attorneys involved and may have the effect of perverting the course of justice in litigation against the State”.

She also referred to the retaining of lawyers by the Office of the AG who defended the State in civil law claims while going against the State in prison litigation.

In her letter to the Prime Minister, the former SG also referred to the concerns raised by Sobion-Awai.

Persad-Bissessar last week, instructed Attorney General Anand Ramlogan to investigate concerns raised by Donaldson-Honeywell as it related to matters involving lawyers engaged in prison litigation.

The start of this investigation was postponed indefinitely following the death of the late Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal on Sunday.

Also calling for an independent investigation was the Law Association “in light of the allegations which may constitute an abuse of process and/or perversion of the course of justice and which have the potential to undermine the administration of justice.”

The Association, however, asked for full disclosure of all allegations and supporting facts.

The Master ruled that Sambury sought to mislead the court as to his injuries and the actual circumstances of his assault and battery.

She found the conduct of litigation by Sambury to be dishonest and an abuse of the court, but did not strike out the assessment of injuries and compensation since she found that he had in fact suffered injuries.

That assessment hearing comes up on May 21 in the Port-of-Spain Masters Court.

Expressing her concerns about the “copy and paste” exercise, the Master held that the similarities were so startling that the only reasonable conclusion was that Sambury copied and presented as his own sizeable portions of the witness statement of Jamal Fortune.

“It was significant that the claimant offered no explanation for the obvious copying and use of another person’s witness statement.

“In the absence of any explanation, I concluded that the copying was done deliberately in an effort to mislead the court and obtain a larger award than that to which the claimant was entitled,” she said.



That assessment hearing comes up on May 21 in the Port-of-Spain Masters Court.

Caption: DPP Roger Gaspard, Gerald Ramdeen...attorney for Jamal Sambury

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