Twentythree years after it was laid in Parliament, the controversial Scott Drug Report has surfaced on the 2010 election campaign.
Prime Minister Patrick Manning, speaking at a People's National Movement (PNM) meeting at Tabaquite Wednesday night, raised issues in the report concerning the current Tabaquite MP, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, and deputy political leader of the United National Congress (UNC), Dr Suruj Rambachan. Yesterday, both Maharaj and Rambachan responded to Manning, with Maharaj even threatening legal action if the Prime Minister persists. Rambachan said if Manning has evidence he was involved in a criminal act, then he should cause him to be charged.
Yesterday, Rambachan said he was never found guilty of any offence. He said: "I heard something like that (was said). If I was guilty of anything they should have charged me. "If he (Manning) has any evidence that I have done something wrong then he should cause me to be charged." Holding up a document at the meeting, Manning said he was quoting from the report which was laid in Parliament in February 1987 after a one-man commission of enquiry was held. He said then Prime Minister ANR Robinson exonerated Rambachan without a proper investigation. Maharaj, who is seeking a second term as Tabaquite MP, called a press conference hours later to refute the allegations.
"The allegations made against me and Dr Surujrattan Rambachan were subsequently shown to be false." He said the charges in respect to these allegations were dismissed by a court of law since the 1980s. He said those allegations surfaced at a time when he was the president of the T&T Bureau for Human Rights. He said he fought battles against the Government for injustices and was a corruption buster. Maharaj said Manning was aware he was arrested and prosecuted in the 1980s in an attempt to silence him.
He added: "The allegations made against me in the report referred to by Mr Manning were fabricated. It was wrong, therefore, for Mr Manning to make these false allegations both against me and Dr Surujrattan Rambachan. Maharaj warned Manning any continuation of these false impression of the facts without the protection of parliamentary privilege, entitles him to consider taking legal acton.
?THE SCOTT DRUG REPORT
The Drug Report was commissioned by then President, Sir Ellis Clarke, on a recommendation of the late Prime Minister, George Chambers. The one-man commission was conducted by former Justice of Appeal, Garvin Scott. The commission took evidence in secret and from a number of suspicious underworld characters. A number of people were implicated without being able to defend themselves. The report was leaked in Barbados, and then found its way in the T&T Parliament. Fifty-two police officers were implicated and they were suspended. After more than two years, no one was charged and all 52 officers were exonerated. Some returned to active duty while others decided to leave the service.
Taking the fall, however, was then Commissioner of Police, Randolph Burroughs, who was charged with two offences - trafficking cocaine at Cali Bay, Couva, and conspiracy to murder two persons at Lady Young Road, Morvant. He was acquitted on both charges, but he never returned to the Police Service. After being labelled a hero and ace crime fighter, Burroughs' spirits were broken and he grieved to death.