Former AG calls for resignation of three senior T&T government ministers


Former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Monday February 9, 2015, CMC – Former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj has called for the resignation of three senior government ministers as the fallout continues from the police investigation into former attorney general Anand Ramlogan on charges of seeking to pervert the course of justice.

He said the law states that “where persons are present witnessing the commission of a crime and even if they remain silent, they were present, they could aid and abet the commission of a crime. Both the Prime Minister and the Commissioner of Police have a duty to the public to act swiftly,” Lawrence told reporters Sunday.

Media reports Sunday reported that dismissed national security minister Gary Griffith had presented police with a report of a meeting at which he was being pressured to withdraw a statement he made in support of the Director of the Police Complaints authority (DCA) David West.

Griffith told the police that Communication Minister Vasant Bharath, Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal and Labour Minister Errol Mc Leod, who was then acting prime minister, were present at the meeting, but that McLeod and Moonilal kept quiet while Bharath sought to have him withdraw the statement that he had been asked by Ramlogan to contact West in relation to a witness statement filed in the lawsuit between the former government minister and the Leader of the Opposition Dr. Keith Rowley.

Maharaj told the news conference that “if what I read in the newspapers are true, there is an obligation for the three ministers of government to offer their resignations to the Prime Minster”.

He said failure to do so would mean Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar would have to act and “in any event there is a firm duty on the acting Police Commissioner (Stephen Williams) to announce that the probe would be extended to cover these three ministers”.

Maharaj said while an offence may or may not have been committed “there is an allegation and if there is such an allegation then the minister has a duty to resign and if he does not resign, under our Constitution the Prime Minister takes full responsibility for all actions.

“If there is, under the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago a corrupt government, then every member of the cabinet is collectively responsible for that. If there is an honest government then every member of the cabinet is responsible for that,” he added.

Maharaj said Prime Minister Persad Bissessar had treated Griffith unfairly “and undermined and subverted the values of integrity in public office, the values of the Constitution and the rule of law by putting Mr. David West, Mr. Gary Griffith and and the Leader of the Opposition in the same category as Mr. Anand Ramlogan when in truth and in fact it is only Mr. Ramlogan who is the subject of a police investigation.

“The others have done no public wrong,” he said, questioning why Persad Bissessar had taken so long to deal with the matter involving Ramlogan.

Last Monday Prime Minister Persad Bissessar removed both Ramlogan and Griffith from her Cabinet and called on the President Anthony Carmona to set up an independent commission to probe West.

Maharaj has already said that West cannot be removed from his office based on the statements of the prime minister.

Meanwhile, Griffith has said he intends sending a pre-action protocol letter to Bharath in the next few days following statements made against him in a press release.

“Mr Bharath was not speaking the truth when he said that I breached Cabinet confidentiality. The truth is going to come out. I maintain I did nothing wrong and took a stance on principle,” Griffith said.

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