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Integrity Commission gives ‘emailgate’ verdict; but was justice served?

Not since Roman prefect Pontius Pilate made a grand show of washing his hands—during a dodgy and memorable case immortalised in the New Testament—has a legislative body shown so much enthusiasm for ridding itself of a matter and so little stomach for taking responsibility for its decision.

Rather than make a public pronouncement on the “emailgate” scandal that has hung over Parliament for the past two years, the Integrity Commission yesterday sent its verdict to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s lawyer, Israel Khan SC, in a letter curiously marked “private and confidential.”

Naturally, the Prime Minister promptly ushered the correspondence into the public arena.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. (Copyright AFP 2014/Frederic Dubray)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Frederic Dubray)

The Integrity Commission used merely one line to present its verdict, which was that “there was no or insufficient grounds for continuing the investigation into the above matter and accordingly this investigation is hereby terminated.”

But the commission, chaired by Justice Zainool Hosein, used two paragraphs to explain why it did not need to justify its decision.

Pilate, at least, abdicated responsibility with a better soundbite.

“I am innocent of this (case),” said Pilate, as he symbolically washed his hands in a basin, “see you to it.”

When taken in the context of the Prime Minister’s stance against the last release she did not fancy—she initiated moves to remove the deputy DPP, just 24 hours earlier—is it any wonder that the Integrity Commission had its foot on the gas and was reluctant to look in the rearview mirror?

For the umpteenth time then, the Prime Minister was cleared. We do not know how or why that is so.

But who are we to question such a questionable ruling—at least in the absence of accompanying information—in an era when the Prime Minister has ordered the heads of deputy DPP Joan Honore-Paul, director of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) David West and the NGC served a pre-action protocol letter to a Trinidad Express journalist for an investigative story that the State board admitted was based on factual information.

Photo: PCA director David West (left) is sworn in by President Anthony Carmona. (Courtesy thepresident.tt)
Photo: PCA director David West (left) is sworn in by President Anthony Carmona.
(Courtesy thepresident.tt)

Discretion, Hosein might say about his hasty exit, is the better part of valour.

Persad-Bissessar enjoyed her victory. Again.

“This is a major victory for the Office of the Prime Minister and the sovereignty of the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago… Now we can move on to the real issue here. That is the Opposition Leader’s arrogant actions in misleading the Parliament and impugning members of the Government…

“If he will do this to the Office of the Prime Minister, what would he do to those less able to defend themselves? If elected, whom would he bully and harass?

“Now that the Integrity Commission has pronounced and concluded their investigations… the Opposition Leader’s leadership is again called into question and once again it shows that he is unfit to lead our country.”

The Prime Minister’s statements, if she believes them, again arguably shows her failure to grasp the mood of the people.

If having persons in authority answer to investigative bodies for their conduct is bullying, then where can Wired868 sign up for a pro-bullying campaign? And, mind you, we want it applied to politicians on both sides of the fence.

Photo: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (left) and Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley.
Photo: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (left) and Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley.

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley would have been deemed reckless in the extreme if he took emails to court that were found to be fake within a day. As was the case with the evidence of rape that Persad-Bissessar’s own team carried to Parliament to sully Rowley and his deceased father.

Had Rowley edited or manipulated those emails in any way, he should have been charged with criminal misconduct.

But this is a case that took two State-funded investigative bodies over two years to make headway on; and a matter the Prime Minister could not even get a favourable decision on through the Parliament’s Privilege Committee, chaired by her Speaker of the House Wade Mark.

It is difficult to see how the Diego Martin West MP could be blamed for failing to solve such a complex affair on his own.

Emailgate has one of two possible outcomes: guilty or not guilty. And it is not Rowley who is on trial.

Thus far, Persad-Bissessar has tried to charge and convict Rowley in the court of public opinion and through trial by media and everywhere but a court of law and the Privileges Committee.

If the Prime Minister is so certain of the Opposition Leader’s wrongdoing over this affair, then, by her own admission, she has enough court clothes, and the People’s Partnership has never been shy about filing litigation.

Photo: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (left) and Leader of Government Business Roodal Moonilal. (Courtesy Baltimore Post)
Photo: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (left) and Leader of Government Business Roodal Moonilal.
(Courtesy Baltimore Post)

The IC made its ruling yesterday and fled the scene. Eventually, the Police Service will have its turn at the crease.

“Justice should not only be done,” said British Lord Chief Justice Hewart in 1924, “but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.”

There is a case to be made that Trinidad and Tobago got a verdict from the Integrity Commission. But not justice.

Just as the Jews did with Pilate in that historic case.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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148 comments

  1. Are another intelligence person. And also Integrity person. Their u go running u mouth.like Mister Integrity. Bring it on.William Ross.

  2. Lasana in addition to the TTPS investigation into Emailgate, I would add they should also charge Leela Maraj with murdering the English Language!

  3. Yes our future prime minister MR Rowley is anointed by the creator off the universe.

  4. Rowley have to be really crazy to know something to be fake and bring it in public just to hurt the prime minister if that is he needs head to be examine people think about it.

  5. I can’t seem to wrap my head around this…. Everyone knows that the E mails are Fake …. FABRICATED… But people want the contents of the story to be investigated so as to make the Government responsible , guilty , for the fiction ? So I can make up a story about my neighbour whom I do not like and then prove that she is guilty ? Please explain this to me…

    • Wait, wait ..

      you do realize, the contents of the e-mails were in fact investigated, and the contents were found to be just as false as the e-mails ?

  6. Is d IC chairman on d PP’ s payroll?

  7. Even the blind could see that something is just not right come on my people wake up it’s high time you do

  8. She suspend him from parliament and he still have her hot. She is afraid of him

  9. Hogwash get your facts then open your mouth

  10. Ok David. Stop playing with my troll now. Lol.
    I was just having some fun but didn’t mean to encourage all this. My bad.
    Leela, despite the fact that English is obviously your second language, you did a decent trolling job.
    Go get your cookie or box drain or whatever the going rate is these days.
    Take care LM…
    Back to progressive talk everyone else.

  11. Let me hear those who claimed vindication for the PM a few hours ago? Police and DPP investigation still going on and IC letter was not agreed to by all commissioners. Why else would influence be placed on the premature outcome of the investigation? Someone has something to hide.

  12. Rowley is anointed by God.

  13. Hi not really unless the person is open minded not stuck in ole talk

  14. Are u looking for friend sorry no geek.

  15. Is this about syntax and semantics? It seems like there is a new language by Leela.

  16. Get alive or Arrive Alive Leela? Hahaha. I’m sure you mean well.
    Nice of you take an interest in me although I can think of a few other subjects you should pay close attention to. Punctuation couldn’t hurt either.
    Don’t let all the available free education go to waste Leela. I know there is a poet in there dying to get out from beneath the half-baked and badly spelt jargons. 😉

  17. This is for LasanaLibur l would not dignified my spelling with a anwer sound like hateful person like Rowley. And stop try tell. How to spell.and get alive.Ha.

  18. for attemtping to bring down the government with nonsensical data,because anybody with sense would realise that it was foolishness from the start,did Rowley honestly think that Kamla was goin to kill a journalist,of course not but ppl so high on poltical bias and race that objectivity is not part of the equation

    • Would you put your head on a block that they were NOT going to do it, given the track record and history of the persons involved?

    • Rowley did not need this email gate scandal to bring down this Govt…. this Govt brought down itself.

    • agreed,but at the same time he knew very well what he was doing,and why and to pretend otherwise is hypocritical

    • Boodoosingh, you are missing the point…the ‘plot to murder’ is not the key issue, but the Section 34 fiasco which entails the two financiers using this section to evade the course of justice by being extradicted to the US to answer questions on the airport debacle; the bugging of the DPP’s office with spy equipment; the plan to offer him a judgeship to move him out of his constitutionally appointed office as a Public Officer…etc., and I could go on and on…GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT AND STOP LOOK FOOLISH…

  19. Resign Rowley! I love my Prime minister!

  20. First of all Leela, invest in “Spell Check.” It can make people appear smarter than they really are. And I think you need all the help you can get.
    Secondly, you are aware that when a Prime Minister is elected, they must face the poll again in a specified period of time right? If you did, you would understand why a lot of people are anxious to hear the election date.
    My dear Leela, if you cannot grasp a simple fact like elections must be held every five years… How are we going to debate politics?
    Thanks for your effort though. At least you gave it a go. 😉

  21. All Rowley want to win the election so he can thief the people money and put in his pocket. So. He trying to get raid of the PM . so she stop spending the money and helping the people. So all he want to call election but if u people are stupid to believed in him.sit back and take good look at the man .On his mark hatred for the Trini people. He have no respect for his wife. To be in public on Caninvial day with a young girl on the street.And that the man u all people want to be your prime minister of Trinidad & Tobago. Shame on u people. Go Prime minister Kamala Parsad B. Mother Duga blessing on u

  22. The ball is in the DPP’s court

  23. The ball is in the DPP’s court

  24. Could have been using a foreign account. Hmmm!!

  25. Thanks Savitri Maharaj. Learning much through this saga, I’ll tell you that.

  26. Rhona just to let you know “tstt.com” is not a valid domain. It should be “tstt.net.tt”.

  27. She should have been advised to suspend the Speaker instead. Lol.

  28. Yep. The trend has not gone unnoticed.

  29. Desperation breeds all sort of behaviours Rhona.This government is attempting to appeal to the base instinct of the illiterates amongst us.Planting subliminal seeds has been their modus operandi for some time now.

  30. A suggestion?? sounds more to me like a subtle order. Desperate measures from a desperate Party. Something like someone once said “do not go out there and loot.”

  31. We may not, but failing that, then Plan B. Her people.

  32. Lance Noel that is precisely what they are trying to instigate but we eh falling for dat.

  33. So, Lance Noel, she is probably planting a suggestion in the minds of people she has already riled up. Hmmmm…

  34. Very interesting read from Mr Reid. Insightful.

  35. I know that Rhona. Was only making a joke that was probably a bit corny.

  36. Demonstrations could lead to state of emergency,which could lead to postponed elections.