(Trinidad Guardian) Former Justice Minister Herbert Volney says he accepts full responsibility for the proclamation of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act, which caused a scandal that might have allowed a number of people, including two United National Congress financiers, to avoid facing the courts on serious criminal charges. He also hoped that the country would move past the fiasco. Volney, who spoke at a press conference held by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan at his ministry on St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, apologised to Ramlogan and said he had failed the Cabinet and could understand why the Prime Minister decided to dismiss him. His apology followed the settlement of a lawsuit, resulting in his public apology to Ramlogan, payment of an undisclosed sum to a charity of Ramlogan’s choice and agreeing not to repeat the defamatory remarks in future.
Ramlogan’s lawsuit stemmed from an on-line blog posted by Volney commenting on his dismissal from Cabinet over the Section 34 matter. In 2012, after his dismissal from Cabinet after public uproar and demonstrations following the proclamation of the law, Volney sought to lay blame on Ramlogan. He said yesterday: “Let me make it abundantly clear to you all that I take full responsibility for Section 34.
“I was the line minister at the Ministry of Justice and having come from a background in the criminal justice system as a judge and as a former prosecutor, I was one who not only helped to calibrate Section 34 and to bring it about but also to have it amended in the Senate during the course of debate and also at the time it was proclaimed.
“It was obviously an oversight and without the necessary information from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions I was unaware of the fallouts. I should have undertaken more careful consideration of the proclamation which I did not and I failed the Cabinet in that regard. “The Attorney General had nothing, I repeat nothing, to do with Section 34 other than as a parliamentary colleague to assist me on the floor, during the committee stage in particular.”