(Trinidad Express) Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley yesterday charged that he was in danger of bankruptcy as Attorney General Anand Ramlogan was making select lawyers millionaires to wage legal battle against him (Rowley) as he conducts his public duty.
Ramlogan told the Express yesterday that he will not comment on Rowley’s statements as these matters were before the courts.
Speaking at a press conference at the Opposition Leader’s office, Port of Spain, Rowley disclosed he has received three pre-action protocol letters from lawyers representing the Attorney General over comments and questions raised over three separate issues.
The first, he said, involved his questions surrounding the role and conduct of the Attorney General in the extradition process of businessmen Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson.
The second was his questions with respect to the role of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) with respect to the State of Emergency, and the third involved his (Rowley’s) comments in relation to his questions over the increase in the budgetary allocation in the Attorney General’s office to pay lawyers.
Rowley said rather than explaining to the country and responding to the questions asked, Ramlogan sought to hire lawyers, at the expense at the State, to go after him.
Rowley pointed out that the budget for hiring private lawyers at the Attorney General’s office increased from TT$30 million in 2010 to TT$108 million in 2011 and a further TT$95 million in 2012.
He said Ramlogan was using State resources to “pursue his pet project of seeking out and hunting, and of generating pre-action protocol”.
“We view this development as a very serious development where the Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago by order of the Constitution, instead of being the office that protects the rights of citizens with respect to the management of the legal affairs of this country, is using the taxpayers money to make millionaires of selected lawyers, to pursue lawsuits and in fact to undermine our democracy if we allow it to happen by seeking to intimidate the office of the Leader of the Opposition…in that if you annoy me or if you ask questions that make me uncomfortable or expose my conduct, I will sue you,” said Rowley.
He asked citizens to take note that it was taxpayers’ monies being used every time Ramlogan takes legal action against him.
“If the Attorney General wants to sue me in his private capacity as Anand Ramlogan suing Keith Rowley, fine, the court will determine that, but what we object to and which has to be wrong is for Anand Ramlogan to use the office of the Attorney General and use public resources to seek to intimidate me and I have to respond in my private capacity,” said Rowley.
The Opposition Leader, he said, has no public budget to hire lawyers neither does the Parliament provide any legal defence for the Opposition Leader.
“I, in requirements of discharging my duty without fear or favour, I’m in danger of bankruptcy because the Attorney General is headed to use the treasury, to use public money to hire lawyers to take issue with me whenever I raise matters of public concern,” said Rowley.
Rowley reiterated his concerns over allegations of corrupt practices at the Education Facilities Company Ltd (EFCL) as he called for a forensic audit into the State enterprise.
Rowley also called on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to clarify whether two oncology centres will be built—one at Mt Hope and another in Penal.
He noted that Persad-Bissessar had said that an oncology centre will be built at Penal while a foundation was already laid for one to be constructed at Mt Hope.
He said the Mt Hope site was chosen to construct the oncology centre because of its location to the population.