News Jada Loutoo 39 minutes agoDarryl Smith –
A LEGAL official from the Department of Sport and Youth is banned from participating in judicial review proceedings brought against the Office of Prime Minister (OPM) by former UNC minister and political activist Devant Maharaj.
She was involved in the negotiations and the Labor Court lawsuit brought by former Sports Secretary Darryl Smith’s personal assistant.
Maharaj seeks information about the $ 150,000 payout to the PA, Carrie-Ann Moreau, following her dismissal and the report of an OPM- -pointed committee to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against the former minister.
Maharaj searched the information in a freedom of information request in November and was denied and denied in March 2019. Judge Nadia Kangaloo gave him permission to seek a judicial review of the OPM’s decision to deny or deny access to the information.
The ministry’s legal officer said she had firsthand knowledge of the facts and matters relating to the negotiations and the labor court complaint and -peared before the committee during the investigation.
She also alleged that the content of the report relating to her was completely false and contradicted the documented evidence she had presented to the committee, and several false and grave allegations published in the newsp -ers about her caused one serious and irreparable damage to reputation.
The judge allowed her to move motions in support of her request to be heard and to participate as an interested party in Maharaj’s judicial review suit.
In a written judgment, Kangaloo rejected her -plication on the grounds that she wanted to seek refuge and uphold the OPM’s access decision.
She added that it was not up to her to protect the access decision and that there were no facts to justify her intervention at this stage.
“… And the same is in fact unjustified.”
She said the legal officer would need to show that she was affected by the OPM’s access decision.
“The court finds that it cannot make such a determination,” she said, adding that the decision to deny Maharaj access to the documents had actually benefited her.
The attorney was represented by attorney Justin Phelps.
In contrast to being allowed to join the lawsuit, Maharaj’s attorney Anand Ramlogan, SC, said the substantive lawsuit was about the validity of the OPM’s decision and was a matter of pure law.
He noted that as an alternative remedy to the court that ordered him access to the information, Maharaj had requested that the information be returned to the OPM for reconsideration and it would be in -propriate for the court to perceive the role and function of the prime minister per se to tear under the Freedom of Information Act into a politically highly sensitive matter.
Ramlogan also argued that the ministry’s legal officer could not assist the court because her arguments were identical to those of the OPM.
In support of the refusal to provide Maharaj with the information on the affidavit, the OPM’s permanent secretary Maurice Suite said that based on the report’s findings, it is likely that some of the people the committee interviewed during its investigation would likely be affected by negative criticism.
Suite said it believed that these people should be given an opportunity to speak out in relation to this criticism, which they were not.
He also said that as a result of the legal advice the Prime Minister received after the committee’s report was presented, it was found that the procedure used was unfair and contrary to natural law.
The Prime Minister therefore considered the report to be unusable and unreasonable to publish it.
Suite said the public interest does not require disclosure because the report “has the potential to cause reputational damage if published and is an unreliable record of the truth as those named in it have been unable to tell their side of the story.”
The legal officer had received a Salmon letter – an official letter sent as part of a public inquiry to people criticized after the investigation report was published – and was asked to comment.
However, when she -peared before the committee, she said the questions asked were open and no allegations or conclusions were put forward for answer.
In attempting to assert Maharaj’s claim, she said she had compelling and direct evidence of the committee’s proceedings and the underlying material.
Kangaloo said she was not in favor of the motion to give the legal trainee an opportunity to be heard in the trial before her in order to ensure her procedural fairness and due process that the committee had withheld from her.
She was not convinced that the Ministry’s legal advisor could “make a useful contribution, even more than what the OPM could do”.
Kangaloo said that while the official could certainly provide direct evidence of the proceedings adopted by the committee, she added, “However, this court believes that such evidence can also be provided by the OPM if asked to do so, on its instructions Committee was set up. ”
By denying her membership -plication, Kangaloo called for cost presentations and postponed Maharaj’s substantive request to January 18 for a status hearing.
The OPM was represented by a team of lawyers led by Senior Counsel Fyard Hosein.