?Another "extraordinary" statement coming from a government minister, this one expressed by none other than Attorney General John Jeremie, who reminded us in his first public utterance of importance on the Calder Hart/Udecott matter that he is the "legal adviser to the Cabinet and the guardian of the public interest."
There is need to place into context the statement of the AG and the allegations surrounding this matter. The allegations started approximately four years ago and the three major interventions by the Government have only been made after tremendous public pressure, even embarrassment, almost as if the Government was intent on not hearing or seeing any evil. The first major intervention by Prime Minister Patrick Manning to establish the Uff Commission of Enquiry was taken only after UNC MP Ramesh Maharaj went to the Parliament in May 2008, almost two years ago, and alleged family connections between the Harts and the Malaysian firm Sunway. The second intervention of significance was initiated when legal action by Udecott and Mr Hart was threatening to derail the Government-appointed commission of enquiry from having its report made public. According to the AG, he found it "necessary then to protect the public interest." He therefore appointed forensic investigator Bob Lindquist to work with the Special Anti-Crime Unit of T&T to investigate the matter. Five months later, it takes the release of documents by the Congress of the People (COP) for the Attorney General to find himself in a position to advise the Prime Minister about the investigation of Mr Hart and to call in the Commissioner of Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions to pursue criminal inquiries against him.
There are two puzzling features which have characterised the functioning of Government and its agencies in these matters: an absence of initiative to "protect the public interest," requiring as it has public embarrassment to act, and the absence so far of efficacy, energy and results from the forced investigations. An opposition MP operating privately gained the initial documentation on the family connection, then two other private attorneys from another political party could find information in short time, while the state machinery is yet to find the compelling information required to confirm or deny the family relation between the Sunway directors and the Harts. Why has Government not initiated government-to-government contacts to bring assured and expeditious results? But also astonishing are the actions and reactions of ministers and the Prime Minister over the period. Surely the point is taken that under the law a person remains innocent until proven guilty. But there must be a balance to that principle: should the ministers and the Prime Minister have been going out of their way to proclaim the innocence of Calder Hart?
In one instance when the former husband of Mrs Hart submitted his statement to the commission fully prepared to be cross-examined on the matter, Prime Minister Manning took the position that Mr Khan's statement was that of a "jilted lover" and could not be trusted. Having dealt extensively yesterday with Minister Dick-Forde and her claims that the citizens of this country hounded Mr Hart out of office, the extraordinary statement from the AG is made, revealing two important matters: it was the AG who mounted criminal investigations against Mr Hart, and it is the Prime Minister who more than likely instigated Mr Hart's resignation. Moreover, and according to the Attorney General, his advice to the Prime Minister was based on the documents made public by the COP, the same set of documents upon which the citizens have been commenting. Is Minister Dick-Forde now going to slam her two colleagues for "hounding Mr Hart" out of office? Surely those who have stood with Mr Hart, proclaiming his innocence at every possible turn, must fall with him if he falls.