Senior Counsel, Tony Astaphan, has said he is troubled with the Integrity in Public Office Commission (IPO), in the manner it is handling a matter concerning Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit.
“Let me go on record to tell you that I am deeply troubled with this Integrity Commission,” Astaphan told privately-owned Kairi FM.
The Prime Minister was brought before the IPO by journalist and radio personality, Lennox Linton, who claimed that Mr. Skerrit had used his official influence as chairman of Cabinet to secure concessions for a business concern in which it is alleged that he holds ownership interest.
The IPO announced earlier this month that it was going ahead with an inquiry into whether the Skerrit breached the Integrity in Public Office Act and hearings into the matter would be begin today (Monday).
This was announced despite the fact that the Skerrit’s legal team, led by Astaphan, had communicated with the IPO that the matter should not go ahead because of certain concerns with members of the Commission.
Having failed to convince the IPO, Astaphan and his team went to court to seek a judicial review and Justice Brian Cottle subsequently ruled that a review would be heard on April 12.
Since then the IPO announced that the inquiry has been postponed until further notice.
According to Astaphan, who is not amused by the twists and turns, the matter is not being handled well by the Commission. He said his team had written to the IPO on several occasions and Senior Counsel Alick Lawrence went before a judge for directions on the question of the application for leave.
“I do not understand why it was necessary for us to call Mr. Kevin Williams (attorney for the IPO), write to the Integrity Commission and in fact as a matter of last resort file an application for interim relief for an adjournment before being informed in writing that the Commission has agreed to postpone the inquiry…” he said.
He pointed out that the rule of law requires that there be a postponement without having to go to the courts. “We do not know why it took so long for this matter to be decided because the rule of law required there be a postponement without it having to go to the court to try to get an injunction,” he argued.
The Senior Counsel also made it clear that now the matter has been postponed, it is going to be a long process and it might go as far as the London-based Privy Council.
“That means that now we must file a fix date claim form, there are going to be affidavits, and further affidavits on the behalf of the prime minister, the Integrity Commission is going to file theirs, there is going to be submissions, there is going to be first hearings and then the matter will be heard by a High Court judge and thereafter both sides have a Constitutional right to have an appeal to the High Court of Appeal and thereafter by the Privy Council,” he explained.