PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad CMC – Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has filed a lawsuit for defamation against his onetime Cabinet colleague, justice minister Herbert Volney.
Ramlogan in papers filed in the High Court on Friday, is accusing the former High Court judge of using the internet to make the defamatory statements in a desire to rehabilitate his own reputation after he was dismissed from the government in 2012.
In his claim, Ramlogan is seeking damages, aggravated and exemplary, for the libel which was published throughout 2013 on the internet chat forum on Yahoo via firstname.lastname@example.org, which the lawsuit contends belongs to Volney.
Ramlogan claims that the statements made by Volney on the chat forum allege impropriety on Ramlogan’s part in relation to the Section 34 fiasco.
Volney was fired by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on September 20, 2012, after she said he had misled the Cabinet in respect of the early proclamation of provisions of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011 and in particular Section 34 that had the effect of allowing people, whose trial has not started after a 10-year period to walk free and a verdict of not guilty entered against their names.
Critics say that the clause was aimed at supporting businessmen Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson, who have been described as financiers of the ruling United National Congress (UNC), the biggest partner in the four-member coalition People’s Partnership government.
The two are facing fraud and laundering charges relating to the re-development of the Piarco International Airport in 2001. They are also wanted in the United States on a number of related charges.
The government later repealed the section and Prime Minister Persad Bissessar dismissed Volney on the grounds that he misled Cabinet into believing that the Chief Justice Ivor Archie and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Roger Gaspard, had supported the idea of the early proclamation.
The lawsuit by Ramlogan alleges that Volney’s statements on the blog suggested the attorney general was the chief architect of the conspiracy to get rid of him from office; incited the Chief Justice and the DPP to participate in that conspiracy and in so doing was guilty of ‘gross constitutional impropriety in seeking to compromise the office of the CJ and the independence of the judiciary as well as that of the office of the DPP.
The claim further contends that the words uttered by Volney were understood to mean that Ramlogan violated the independence of the judiciary by getting the CJ to conspire with him in fabricating false evidence to procure the former minister’s dismissal.
The lawsuit also contends that Volney’s statements were actuated by malice and was motivated by a desire on the part of the former minister to rescue and rehabilitate his own reputation for having been fired for ineptitude in relation to the implementation of section 34 and by seeking to impute blame for his removal from the Cabinet.