The attorney representing former food production minister Devant Maharaj, in a lawsuit against the State, plans to ask the court to scrutinise Government’s conduct in the handling of the Darryl Smith report.
In a letter to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, Che Dindial questioned the Government’s unwillingness and mixed responses towards releasing the findings of a committee set up by the Office of the Prime Minister.
The committee probed a secret settlement of a sexual harassment case against former Sport and Youth Affairs minister Darryl Smith which was brought by his former personal assistant Carrie-Ann Moreau.
Meanwhile, calls to Smith’s phone remained unanswered up too late yesterday.
Dindial said while he and Maharaj were pleased that the Government gave an undertaking to not destroy the report, Maharaj continues to rely on media reports due to the paucity of information from the Government.
He said the conflicting reports have confused the public as several contradictory statements were made by various government officials. It was for this reason that Maharaj applied for a judicial review of the Government’s refusal to release the report.
“It is difficult to reconcile the decision to deny Mr Maharaj access to this report with these statements. We are therefore pleased to note that copies of the report will be retained by the OPM and your office pending the hearing and determination of our client’s case.
We are well aware of the duty to make full and frank disclosure and have every intention of placing our exchange of correspondence before the court because we intend to rely on same to ask the court to draw certain adverse inferences about the Government’s conduct in this matter,” Dindial said.
On Monday, Al-Rawi said it was preposterous to think that the Government would entertain the idea of destroying the report while it was the subject of a court matter.
Responding to Maharaj’s application for an injunction to stop the destruction of the report, Al-Rawi requested that Dindial present a copy of his letter before the courts so that the State could apply for wasted costs against all counsels for the State.
Describing this as a threat, Maharaj suggested that the AG focus on the amount of money that the Government “wasted” in an attempt to convince the public that the report was useless and should be dumped.
In his letter, Dindial included a June 2017 excerpt from the Hansard, in which Smith’s successor, Shamfa Cudjoe said that “the investigation is still ongoing and we are at the point in the investigation where the people mentioned in the report are being contacted and questioned and provided with the necessary information that is present in the report, so they have that opportunity to respond.”
Dindial said: “Such wasted costs include the money you have spent to obtain legal advice to tell you that there was a breach of natural justice because Mr Smith was allegedly not given the opportunity to be heard—a matter that should be obvious (if it were true) to even the most average of lawyers.”
Reporter: Kevon Felmine