CHAIRMAN of the Integrity Commission Ken Gordon has compromised any possible investigation of the email scandal by the Commission by his private meeting with PNM political leader Dr Keith Rowley at his home on May 15 and through his statement issued on Friday and should re-consider the question of resignation, political analyst Dr Hamid Ghany said yesterday.
“Mr Gordon has compromised the investigation by revealing that he has misdirected himself about his exercise of powers under section 5 of the Integrity in Public Life Act by believing that he, acting alone, is ‘the Commission’ when section 4 of the said Act provides otherwise,” Ghany told Sunday Newsday. “He should reconsider his decision not to resign in the interest of ensuring that the email affair can be properly investigated. He needs to resign.”
Ghany’s comments came ahead of the expected announcement of new commissioners by President Anthony Carmona tomorrow amid persistent calls for Gordon to be removed.
Ghany said Gordon’s statement issued on Friday, in which the chairman declined to resign but instead poured scour over criticisms levied at him for his private meeting at his Glencoe home with the PNM political leader Dr Keith Rowley, raised several issues about Gordon’s judgment.
“Mr Gordon’s statement is based on the premise that the issue of his secret meeting with Dr Rowley on 15th May instant is about his integrity, when clearly it is about his judgment,” he said. “His inability to recognise this simple distinction is what lies at the heart of the matter. Gordon displayed poor judgment in having a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Keith Rowley, at his home on the subject of the email affair five days before it was made public to the rest of the world in a motion of no-confidence debate in the House of Representatives on May 20th instant and at a time when the Leader of the Opposition himself had not laid it before anyone other than the former President.”
Ghany continued, “There was absolutely no nexus between Gordon and Rowley on May 15th as Rowley only later revealed to Parliament on May 20th and May 22nd that the sole person he had dealt with on the matter up to that time was former President Richards.”
The chairman and lone commissioner’s seemingly unilateral actions — confirmed in the three-page statement Gordon issued on Friday — also came under criticism from Ghany.
“Gordon also displayed poor judgment in commencing the investigation into the email affair during the period when the Integrity Commission was not quorate by unilaterally retaining the services of Senior Counsel to determine the jurisdiction of the Commission to proceed with the matter in the period right after the motion of no-confidence debate had been concluded,” Ghany said. He said the investigation was now clearly compromised.
“Based on these two serious errors of judgment, the investigation into the email affair has been compromised by the Chairman alone as there have been no other Commissioners in office since March 14 instant,” Ghany, a senior lecturer of political science at the University of the West Indies said. “Mr Gordon has now handed a gilt-edged legal and political gift to the persons in the email affair being pursued by the Leader of the Opposition by his refusal to resign as a legally and politically compromised Chairman attempting to lead a legally and politically compromised investigation awaiting new Commissioners who, by their acceptance of any appointment under his chairmanship would constitute their acceptance of his legally and politically compromised status.”
Ghany said while some lawyers have suggested Gordon could simply recuse himself from the email probe, such a move would not be sufficient.
“In the first place, the gravity of the error of judgment here means a simple recusal is not the appropriate response,” he said. “Mr Gordon has managed to taint the entire incoming Commission since the incoming commissioners will be viewed as having accepted the post on the basis that they are willing to work with him and under him. Their acceptance of the positions could possibly be viewed as tacit condoning of the Chairman’s actions. How then can he recuse himself and seek to transfer the matter to them? As we speak, the Chairman is legally and politically compromised and the new commissioners are therefore walking in with full knowledge of what has been confirmed publicly.”
Ghany continued, “Furthermore, Mr Gordon appears to have already started the ball rolling on the investigation by unilaterally retaining senior counsel to advise on the question of whether the Commission — as a whole — can probe the purported emails. It would seem, therefore, that the new Commissioners would inherit this. For him to recuse himself would simply be a pretense that would not allay concerns over the process.”
Ghany suggested that the implications could also extend beyond the email probe.
“Also if we say Mr Gordon has to recuse himself from the email probe we have to go further given the fact that Dr Rowley is actually the PNM political leader,” the political analyst said. “Mr Gordon would also have to step down from probes brought by the PNM as well as probes brought by Government or non-PNM parties against the PNM.” Read More