PORT OF SPAIN – St. Joseph MP Herbert Volney says Cabinet approved the note to proclaim Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act while he was out of T&T on vacation in August, and acting Justice Minister Prakash Ramadhar or others who were present could have halted the amendment if they wished, as it passed through their hands. “That’s why I have maintained that I was the fall guy in this issue and unjustifiably fired,” he added.
Volney, who was dismissed by the Prime Minister on September 20 for misrepresenting information to the Cabinet on the controversial section, explained yesterday what took place with the proclamation. He did so as he sent a letter to Speaker Wade Mark to say he had removed himself from under the People’s Partnership whip in the Parliament and was now operating as an Independent UNC‚MP. Volney decided on the move on‚Wednesday after doing sample polls of his St Joseph constituents in the last week.
He said yesterday one of the reasons for his decision was the way the proclamation of Section 34 had occurred in the Cabinet. Volney said at the time the Cabinet worked on the proclamation for the amended Section 34, on‚August 14, he was in Florida on vacation. He said the clause was approved the week before. He said Attorney General Anand Ramlogan was present at that Cabinet session but Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar was not.
He added: “I‚left T&T on the Tuesday (14) and Ramadhar became acting Justice Minister and on the Thursday the issue was dealt with at Cabinet. He was the one who confirmed the minutes on the proclamation. “I was not there for that critical meeting. I‚don’t know what happened at that meeting but it was passed and by the time I‚returned, about August 27, the President had already signed the proclamation order.”
Volney said the Cabinet note was very short.
He added: “It was the amended clause which had come from the Parliament and once they examined it, they could have halted the process if they felt something was out of order. “But it seemed I was an easy target. The COP‚exonerated themselves on the issue and everyone threw the blame on me.”
Volney said Ramadhar had the opportunity to speak out on the issue and point out any shortcoming if he wanted, as he was acting Justice Minister.
Ramadhar didn’t respond to calls yesterday.
Volney said it was difficult being continually described as a “fired” or “sacked” minister, adding: “But I take it, with God’s grace. If I could have taken the Cabinet to court I would have done so on the discussions that were had in relation to my involvement in the Clause 34 issue. I‚now know what I will say when I speak.” (Guardian)