Another civil lawsuit that the Attorney General failed to file a defense costing taxpayers $20 Million in damages… Perhaps Al-Rawi was unaware of the civil matters that required his attention as Attorney General but was focused on usurping the role, function and responsibility of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Taxpayers must now pay $20,000,000.00 in damages for malicious prosecution to nine men who were acquitted by the High Court of kidnapping and murdering Businesswoman Vindra Naipaul-Coolman.
We must all collectively say a prayer for Vindra’s Family who must now relive this ordeal again, knowing that their loved one who was so brutally murdered and after the High Court ruling, it means they will never get justice for her murder.
But what is so astonishing is the order for payment was made by Master Martha Alexander after the State failed to file a defence in the claim.
The Attorney General at the time of this civil action was Faris Al-Rawi. And while the Attorney General entered an appearance in the case, the AG’s Office failed to defend it. “The present matter, therefore, was a substantial one that the defendant chose neither to defend nor to call any evidence, save to appear at the assessment to be heard on quantum,” the court ruled.
And to now adding insult to injury, Acting Attorney General Stuart Young, who is also Minister of Energy and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, has “ordered an investigation into the State’s failure to file a Defense in the civil action.”
Is Young and the Government looking for a scapegoat to blame for this unacceptable situation?
Has Young called his “esteemed” Cabinet colleague Al-Rawi to enquire as why the State did not defend this civil action or is there a serious rift in the Cabinet?
And why didn’t Young wait for the return to AG Reginald Armour and let Armour pursue this investigation since the Assessment of Damages part of the Civil Claim for Malicious Prosecution took place under his tenure after he was appointed AG?
There is a very similar civil court action which this Administration again failed to defend. Two very high-profile PNM members Ashton Ford and Elvin Edwards sued the State in 2014 for “breach of contract” after their appointments were terminated in July 2010 following the May 2010 General Election.
The then Attorney General did put in an appearance on November 5 2014 and submitted a Statement of Defence on January 30 2015 and an Amended Statement of Defence on March 2, 2015. On January 18, 2019, Ford and Edwards filed their Witness Statements. The Office of the Attorney General failed and/or neglected to file any witness statement in support of the Amended Defence.
Even more troubling is when the matter came up for trial in May 2019, no lawyers from the Office of the Attorney General attended Court. As such, the trial was undefended by the Attorney General and the High Court by Judgment dated March 18 2022, awarded Ford and Edwards $2.65 million in damages, cost and interests. The 42 days “Stay of execution order” ended on April 26
Opposition MP Saddam Hosein raised this matter in Parliament and Al-Rawi objected, stating, “I rise on the sub-judice rule. I believe that matter is under appeal. Under the sub-judice principle I am not talking about the written judgment, I am talking about the appeal of the judgment in relation to the judgment. I recall that this matter is a matter that is under appeal.”(http://www.ttparliament.org/hansards/hh20220516.pdf).
And when MP Hosein again attempted to raise this matter on October 4 2022, Al-Rawi again objected stating, “ I rise on Standing Order 48(6), that matter was defended and led by Mr. Russell Martineau.” Well Mr Former Attorney-General, what is status of this appeal or did you mislead the House.
It was under Al-Rawi’s watch as AG that the State refused to accept the advice of SC Deborah Peake to appeal the AV OIL $100million Arbitration award.
These are just three high profile cases clearly calls into question, once again, the integrity, competence and ability of the former AG who now sitsas Minister of Rural Development and Local Government in the Keith Rowley-led Cabinet.
Perhaps Al-Rawi was too busy with his fixation ondrafting and authorising an indemnity agreement with Vincent Nelson to persecute Anand Ramlogan and Gerald Ramdeen.
Perhaps Al-Rawi was unaware of the civil matters that required his attention as Attorney General but was focused on usurping the role, function and responsibility of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
$22,650,000.00 is what taxpayers are paying on these two court judgements because of Faris Al-Rawi’s gross incompetence and negligence.
by Capil Bissoon; January 31 2023