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Judgment today on Gafoor’s lawsuit
High Court judge Vasheist Kokaram is expected to deliver his judgment today in the constitutional lawsuit brought by suspended Integrity Commission deputy chairman, Gladys Gafoor, against President George Maxwell Richards. In the lawsuit, Gafoor is challenging President Richard’s decision to suspend her from her post on February 9 amid allegations from three of her fellow commissioners, which were sent to him in three “secret letters.”
Kokaram also has been asked to determine if President Richard’s decision to establish a special tribunal to investigate the allegations was lawful. The members of the tribunal are former Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) president Michael de la Bastide (chairman), Justice of Appeal Humphrey Stollmeyer and High Court judge Maureen Rajnauth-Lee.
On December 19, last year, Gafoor was forced to recuse herself from a matter involving former attorney general John Jeremie who had written to the commission asking for Gafoor and another commissioner—chartered accountant Seunarine Jokhoo—to be removed from all consideration of his matter, her application stated.
Parallel to Gafoor’s constitutional motion is a judicial review suit challenging the decision of her fellow commissioners. The other members of the commission are Ken Gordon (chairman), Prof Ann-Marie Bissessar and Neil Rolingson. Gafoor was suspended after President Richards received three “secret letters” from members of the commission complaining about Gafoor’s behaviour.
According to the evidence in the case before the appointment of the tribunal, President Richards met with Gafoor to discuss the allegations. Gafoor, however, claimed during the meeting with the President, she was not given specific information as to the allegations that were leveled against her and an opportunity to respond to them.
During a hearing of the matter on June 21, Senior Counsel Avory Sinanan, who is representing the State, said during the meeting with President Richards, Gafoor was allowed to take notes. Sinanan submitted that President Richards was not under a duty to fully disclose the allegations which would have been done if Gafoor had gone before the tribunal. He described Gafoor’s lawsuit as premature and stated her constitutional rights had not been breached by President Richards.
During her career as a lawyer Gafoor has held the offices of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), acting Solicitor General and Industrial Court member. She was appointed to the post in the commission in 2009. She is being represented by attorneys Clive Phelps, Frank Seepersad and Nicole de Verteuil-Milne. The Integrity Commission, which is listed as an interested party in the matter, is being represented by a legal team which includes Senior Counsel Deborah Peake and attorneys Marcel Ferdinand and Ravi Nanga.
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