Monday 12th June, 2006

 

PM admits talking about Mc Nicolls’ complaint

 
 
 
 
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BY CURTIS WILLIAMS

Prime Minister Patrick Manning has admitted telling retired Justice Ulric Cross that he had a complaint from Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls. Manning told Cross the Chief Justice tried to influence Mc Nicolls in a criminal matter involving former prime minister Basdeo Panday.

Attorneys for the PM filed an affidavit on Friday. In it, they say Manning’s statement to the mediators was done under the confidentiality clauses contained in the mediation agreement brokered between the CJ and the PM late last year.

In an affidavit in support of Manning, attorney Michael Quamina argued that whatever was said in the mediation oath should remain confidential. He pointed to the agreement, which reads, “The mediation process is confidential, and we undertake to maintain confidentiality.

“Both of you undertake to one another that you will similarly maintain confidentiality in respect of all statements and matters arising in or from the mediation, except of course so far as you need to disclose such statements and matters in order to obtain professional advice and to enforce any settlement agreement.”

According to the affidavit, the agreement said: “All documents and statements, whether written or oral, produced or made for the purpose of the mediation will not be admissible or subject to discovery in any court or arbitration proceedings that may subsequently take place.”

The PM’s attorneys are asking the court to strike out several key parts of the CJ’s judicial review application in which the CJ alleged bias on the part of the PM.

Quamina’s affidavit is in support of the application made by Mendes to have parts of the CJ’s affidavit struck out from the proceedings.

Mendes is one of the attorneys representing the PM.

Mendes is also asking the court to deem inadmissible parts of the CJ’s affidavit in which the PM allegedly told Justice Cross that the CJ had to go because he tried to interfere with a criminal matter involving Panday.

Mendes has argued that under the mediation proceedings, several of the CJ’s allegations are inadmissible and are also hearsay.

This is the latest development in the ongoing battle between the Chief Justice and the Prime Minister.

It has been almost a year since the PM has written the President, indicating there may be a reason to inquire into whether the CJ ought to be removed from office.

In his affidavit, Quamina said he was informed by the PM that his statements about the CJ were only made after getting the assurance from Cross and another attorney that whatever he (the PM) told them would be held in confidence. He said he was shocked when he learnt that the CJ knew about it.

©2005-2006 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

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