The Attorney General wishes to condemn the secret meeting held between the Honourable Leader of the Opposition Dr. Keith Rowley and the Chairman of the Integrity Commission, Mr. Ken Gordon to discuss supposed “urgent” matters. This is a matter of grave public concern and disquiet and several questions must now be asked:
(1) This meeting took place mere days before the Motion of no confidence in the Government which was based on scandalous allegations about an alleged thread of emails which has been deemed a work of fiction.
(2) What was the “urgent business” that Dr. Rowley wanted to raise to the Chairman of the integrity Commission, Did it have anything to do with matters that he was going to raise in the No Confidence Motion.
(3) If Dr. Rowley had nothing to hide, why did he fail to disclose this secret meeting during his contributions in the no-confidence motion when he gave details as to the steps he had taken since he came into possession of the emails.
(4) Dr. Rowley indicated during his contribution that the only person with whom he had shared the fictitious emails was former President George Maxwell Richards. If therefore, he had not shared these fictitious emails with the Integrity Commission, why was he meeting with Chairman Gordon?
(5) The established practice and procedure which governs the making of a complaint and the making of enquiries to the Integrity Commission is via the office of the Registrar of the Commission. That procedure requires interested persons to write the Registrar of the Commission (as opposed to the Chairman) and it is the Registrar who would normally deal with such matters. What was the urgent matter that necessitated a secret meeting over drinks at the home of the Chairman of the Integrity Commission that Dr. Rowley could not raise via the proper channels in a letter addressed to Registrar of the Commission?
(6) This meeting is highly suspicious and a cause for grave public concern because there is in fact no Integrity Commission. The quorum for the Commission is a Chairman or Deputy Chairman and at least two other members. Section 4 (6) of the Integrity in Public Life Act states that
“Three members of the Commission, of whom one shall be Chairman/Deputy Chairman, shall consist a quorum”
(7) It is difficult to fathom why Dr. Rowley would want to meet Mr. Gordon to discuss, in secret, an urgent matter, for the Commission in the full knowledge that there is no Commission. The Integrity in Public Life Act does not give the Chairman any powers in his own right- such powers are only vested in a duly constituted Commission in the circumstances it is virtually impossible to imagine what lawful business Dr. Rowley could have possibly had to discuss with the Chairman.
(8) This meeting is also extremely suspicious because of the newspaper headline that followed. I refer to the stories in the media of June 6th 2013 that a Senior Counsel had advised the Integrity Commission had the power to investigate the thread of fictitious emails. This fact was never in doubt. Furthermore, the disclosure of this information was in breach of the secrecy and confidentiality provisions of the Integrity in Public Life Act, which provides as follows:
“28. Matters of a confidential nature in the possession of persons to whim this Part applies shall be kept confidential unless the performance of duty or the needs of justice strictly require otherwise, and shall remain confidential even after separation from service.”
(9) This secret meeting is outrageous and scandalous because we do not know if Dr. Rowley himself is the prime suspect in the on-going Police investigation into email-gate. This means that he could also be a potential suspect in any investigation that the Integrity Commission may wish to undertake in the future. What was a potential suspect doing holding a private, secret meeting with the Chief Judge (Chairman of the Integrity Commission) to discuss an undisclosed urgent matter.
Several questions must now be asked:
- What was the purpose of this secret meeting which was held under the cover of the night in such a clandestine surreptitious manner?
- Was Dr. Rowley trying to influence the Chairman of the integrity Commission?
- Was he trying to pressure him in light of his desire to shy away from a Police investigation and his constant calls for the Integrity Commission to investigating the fictitious email?
- Was he asking the Chairman to undertake the investigation so that when the emails are proved to be false, there would be no possibility of charges being brought against him because the Commission would have been focusing on other persons?
- Was this meeting a political conspiracy between the leader of the Opposition and Chairman of the Integrity Commission to taint and damage the Government?
- Is this why Dr. Rowley has been so strident in his calls for the Integrity Commission and not the Police to investigate these fictitious emails?
- Is this why he appears to have greater confidence in the non-existent Integrity Commission as opposed to the Police Service?
- How long did this meeting last?
- Was he seeking guidance on the no-confidence motion?
(10) Dr. Rowley’s conduct and actions have compromised the integrity and independence of the Chairman of the Integrity Commission he painted him into a conspirational PNM corner out of which it will be extremely difficult to extricate himself .
(11) The PNM’s history of intimidation and unlawful interference in independent instructions makes this meeting extremely alarming. Examples include:
(a) It was under the PNM that an Attorney General (John Jeremie) held secret and improper meetings with a Chief Magistrate (Sherman McNicolls) and the PNM’s Party Treasurer (Andre Monteil) to discuss the pending criminal prosecution of a former Prime minister and political opponent.
(b) It was under the PNM that an Attorney General intimidated and pressured DPP Geoff Henderson by trying to dictate how he should perform his duties and force him to prosecute certain persons.
(c) It was under the PNM that a Prime Minister held a secret meeting with a sitting Chief justice and threatened to unlawfully evict him from office if he did not quietly resign.
(12) This will further erode public confidence in the Integrity Commission. It provides fertile soil for perceptions of political bias and has compromised the integrity and independence of the Chairman of the integrity Commission. I anxiously await the explanation and reasoning for this bizarre secret rendezvous.
Dated: FRIDAY JUNE 14, 2013
MINISTRY OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO