A solid PNM history of conflict with the DPP and other independent offices. That was Attorney General Anand Ramlogan’s pronouncement yesterday as he reiterated the 2006-2007 war of words which exploded, via letter between former PNM Attorney General John Jeremie and former Director of Public Prosecutions Geoffrey Henderson.
In an excerpt from one letter, Jeremie is quoted as telling Henderson a situation was “none of his business” and in another, Henderson is quoted as warning Jeremie his continued efforts to make the former DPP charge certain people was “improper.” Ramlogan read out the excerpts in the Senate yesterday during debate on a PNM motion calling on the PP Government to reaffirm its commitment to the practices of democracy.
He said PNM’s Fitzgerald Hinds, who piloted the motion, had the “temerity and gall” to do so when “the PNM went after every institution that had the independent power to rock them. That’s why this motion is so ironic,” he added. Ramlogan, who noted the offices of Solicitor General, DPP and Chief Parliamentary counsel had remained vacant during parts of the PNM’s tenure, called on the PNM to say why it had refused to appoint Roger Gaspard and Carla Brown-Antoine to the post of DPP during its tenure.
Gaspard is now DPP. Noting recent speculation about bugging of the DPP’s office, Ramlogan added: “They’re insinuating this sort of thing when there’s no basis for it but these are the same people who twice vetoed Roger Gaspard without giving him any explanation. “The country has never been given any explanation on why those candidates were vetoed and the time has come. Tell the country what the PNM has against Roger Gaspard and Carla Brown-Antoine. Why the veto then?”
Ramlogan noted that the veto of Gaspard and Browne- Antoine occurred after Henderson was “hounded” out of office by former PNM Attorney General Jeremie by virtue of a public war between them. He said: “I was amazed when I took office and I opened some of the files and I saw the exchange of correspondence—copies of which I have here today—to see the tone, manner and attitude (with) which the PNM conducted itself with public officials who tried to stand firm and do their work.”
Ramlogan, reading out the letters between Jeremie and Henderson said of Jeremie’s December 2007 comments: “This is the PNM (AG) telling the then DPP that the view they are expressing on the office of the DPP and the powers of the DPP are none of the DPP’s business—not a damn dog bark! That is John Jeremie, PNM AG,” he said.
Ramlogan said Jeremie’s December 18 letter to Henderson on another issue was unprecedented. “The AG of the country had no right to appoint anyone to prosecute a case. It’s the DPP’s function to do that,” he said. He described Jeremie’s 2006 order to Henderson to channel all dealings with the Anti-Corruption Squad through the AG’s office as an alarming development.
Ramlogan said the strain between the two also came out in May 2009, when, he said, Jeremie tried to force Henderson to charge former UNC leader Basdeo Panday and Clico jefe Lawrence Duprey.
January 25, 2007: AG John Jeremie to DPP Geoffrey Henderson:
“Dear director, I sincerely trust that you have pressing matters to attend to which will occupy you such that you are fully engaged with the work of the State. “I find it disturbing you can quote newspaper articles for me on the nature of the relationship between our two offices, particularly at a time when the nation faces a crisis in the criminal justice system which is without precedent.
“My public utterances on the matter are not in any way to be construed as expressing a view one way or the other on the constitutional question and quite frankly they are none of your business.”
December 20, 2006: Jeremie to Henderson:
“Dear director, as our respective roles seem to be attracting a great deal of public debate I think a measure of clarity is now essential. “I have noted with concern your unfortunate public expression of a victory in the face of defeat in the Narayansingh matter in the Court of Appeal. “Effective immediately any and all dealings or proposed dealings which you have with the Anti-Corruption Investigative Bureau should be channelled through the office of the Attorney General.”
December 18, 2006: Jeremie to Henderson:
“I have appointed Mr Khan, SC, to prosecute on behalf of the State in the Monos Island drug bust. Please desist from pointing out to me matters which, with respect, are not only wrong in law, but quite frankly, out of your place.”
November 9 , 2006: Henderson to Jeremie:
“The advice recommended that criminal charges be laid against Mr Basdeo Panday, at that time I was not satisfied that charges could be properly laid. This view was also held by Sir Timothy Cassel, who led the prosecution in the Panday trial.”
November 26, 2006: Jeremie to Henderson:
“I should remind that you have been at the helm of your department for over four years. It does not lie within your mouth in my view to lay criticisms against the criminal justice system.”
December 11, 2006: Henderson to Jeremie:
“In deciding to initiate charges against any citizen of this country, I shall be guided by the law and the facts which persuade me that there is a proper basis to prosecute. “I am not subject to your directions. Your continued efforts to have me initiate charges against certain persons are highly improper and should they continue, it can imperil the successful prosecution of any charge initiated in the matters under investigations.
“You are referring to persons who are associated in one way or another with a political party that is in opposition to the government. It is, therefore, even more imperative that any decision to prosecute is not only independent but must be seen to be.”