Armour mum on return of ‘missing file’
The issue of Monday’s reappearance of the Vindra Naipaul-Coolman case file and the matter of who handed it to the acting Solicitor General or who located it continues to be part of Justice Stanley John’s investigation into the matter.
Attorney General Reginald Armour indicated this in the Senate yesterday following queries by UNC Senator Wade Mark who noted Monday night’s reports that the missing file was found. Mark asked where the file was found.
In the Senate there was some noise from the UNC side as Armour rose to reply to Mark’s query.
Armour cited the media release by John of the file being found and read out the release and the continuing investigation.
Armour said, “Against the background of that last statement by Justice Stanley John I do not propose to answer the question which is the subject of a continuing investigation. That is for the investigation team to investigate and to report on in due course.”
UNC senators laughed but PNM senators desk-thumped in support of Armour.
Mark asked for clarification on who in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs had handed the file to the acting Solicitor General Karleen Seenath on Monday which caused John to issue his release.
Armour said there was nothing to clarify, “The subject of the reappearance and who handed the file or located it continues to be part of Justice John’s investigation on which he will report in due course.”
The information on the file’s resurfacing was released on Monday night via a statement from John who is the lead investigator into the file’s disappearance. John and Justice Rolston Nelson were announced last week to probe the file’s disappearance after Armour said the file was missing.
The absent file was cited as the reason for the State’s failure to mount a defence in the recent civil matter where nine former accused in the Naipaul-Coolman case sued the State for malicious prosecution. In a default judgment last week they were awarded a total of $20 million.
John’s release on Monday night stated he was informed on Monday evening by Seenath that the file was “handed to her” on Monday. John immediately instructed Seenath to secure the file for collection by the investigation team and the reappearance of the file forms part of the continuing investigation.
Yesterday, sources told Guardian Media that the investigation was proceeding “apace”.
Attorney: It’s smoke and mirrors
Meanwhile, attorney Martin George is labelling the situation around the missing file and the explanations as “smoke and mirrors.”
George, speaking to Guardian Media yesterday, said he was not pleased with the developments.
He asked, “So if the file was now handed to Ms Karleen Seenath, who handed it to her? That person ought to be interrogated. Okay, where did you get this file? Where was it? Where’s the paper trail? Where’s the record to show? Well, okay, where the file was logged, where it was logged in, where it was logged out? And where was it hiding all this time?”
He said there are more questions than answers on the matter.
“This is beginning to look more like smoke and mirrors, and you know, a one-trick pony, where you basically just come out there like a snake oil salesman and you give a slick explanation and you think that is going to fool the public. But I don’t think that it’s going to work at all, because people are asking questions,” he said.
The former Police Service Commission member also raised the issue of the documents being available electronically rather than the physical file being referred to.
“You have questions such as, okay, look at the electronic trail, all those emails which were revealed, you know, over the weekend, in the newspaper, that, you know, there’s a plethora of email correspondence back and forth. And each time you see the persons from the AG’s Office from the Chief State Solicitor’s office, from the Solicitor General, you see them responding and saying, yes, received, acknowledged, you know, so the question then arises is, what are you telling me about a physical file, when you basically will serve with documents electronically?”
George also took issue with a media release from John emanating from the Office of the Attorney General although he is supposed to be an independent investigator.
“One of the things we must ask ourselves is, where’s the independence in this investigation? If you have a release being sent out from former retired justice of appeal Stanley John and it’s been sent out on the letterhead from the Office of the Attorney General…so that makes it sound almost as if it is one and the same. You know, one would have thought that this would have been sent out independently by Justice Stanley John.”—Chester Sambrano
By: Gail Alexander