The United National Congress calls upon Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to revoke the senatorial appointment of Dr Lester Henry with immediate effect in light of the alarming finding that he suppressed evidence from the High Court in the defamation case brought by former Central Bank Governor Jwala Rambaran.
Justice Devindra Rampersad granted judgment against Dr Henry and ordered him to pay aggravated damages in the sum of Five Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($550,000.00) plus legal costs for Jwala’s legal team led by former Attorney General Mr. Anand Ramlogan SC.
We take serious issue with the fact that Dr Henry misled and deceived the court by failing to disclose that he had an official recording of the very radio talk show on which it was alleged he had uttered the defamatory words. This deliberate omission was crucial as Henry did not admit that he has spoken the words complained of.
The Court rightly criticized Dr. Henry over his attempt to suppress and conceal evidence that was relevant to the case. It said: “Having regard to the defence referred above in which the defendant did not admit nor deny whether the words complained of were words spoken by him, he must have known that a recording of the program obtained from the radio station was directly relevant to the case since it would have identified his voice on it thereby dealing definitively with this issue. His explanation as to why he failed to disclose it was, to my mind, wholly unacceptable as evidence in court. Respectfully, that was not a decision for him to make but, really, it was one for the court. When one considers the scholarliness and academic background of the defendant, who amongst other things, teaches at the University of the West Indies and was a Senator of the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago, this court does not accept that when the disclosure document was signed by the defendant, whether personally or upon his instructions, that he was justified in excluding and or failing to disclose the “official” recording. In fact, the court finds that he has not complied with the provisions of the rules in that the list of documents failed to disclose this recording and this impacts negatively upon his credibility. Further his failure to do so gives the Court the impression that he willfully and deliberately chose to exclude vital evidence by omission and that he chose to suppress evidence which may have been helpful to the claimant’s case or detrimental to his own. The Court deprecates this type of conduct and behavior and confirms that it would have had a negative impact upon his credibility in this matter.”
Rambaran sued Henry over a bitter and malicious verbal attack made during a radio talk show. Henry accused Rambaran of using some $7M in public funds from the Central Bank to pay for repairs to his private home. The court found that Henry “was reckless in making the statements which he did, statements which had no factual basis and which he did not even take the time to investigate or to speak the claimant about prior to him making them on the radio.”
Suppression of evidence is a most serious matter. The finding by the High Court is one that renders Dr Henry unfit for the position of government senator. It is an indictment on his integrity and character as it implies that he was trying to mislead and deceive the court into ruling in his favour. This is a violation of the code of ethics and a betrayal of the public trust.
In the circumstances the Prime Minister must act now to save the government from further embarrassment, shame and disgrace. He has no choice but to revoke Dr Henry’s appointment as a senator. To do otherwise will simply confirm that the government is aware that it lacks integrity and moral authority and hence Dr Henry’s continued presence will cause no further damage.