Manning seeking redress in court
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – The High Court will rule on Friday whether former prime minister Patrick Manning will be allowed a judicial review challenging the decision to send him to the Privileges Committee of Parliament.
The Trinidad Express newspaper today reported that the application was heard in the court this week and that Justice Charmaine Pemberton has instructed that the parties file and exchange submissions on Tuesday.
She said she will rule Friday on whether the courts have the jurisdiction to entertain the application filed by Manning before proceeding further.
On November 26 last year, during a debate in Parliament, Manning claimed that Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar’s private house was being built at a cost of millions of dollars and was even larger than the official residence of the Prime Minister.
He also claimed that construction activity had increased dramatically since the May 24 general election election and levelled allegations against the Government for carrying out an agenda by rewarding those who had assisted in financing its election campaign.
Manning, through attorney Senior Counsel John Jeremie, filed an application for leave to apply for judicial review claiming the Committee’s decision to refuse him proper representation at the disciplinary hearing. He is seeking to have his legal representation question members of the Privileges Committee and is also seeking relief that the decision to have him sent to the committee “is unlawful, null, void” and should be of no effect.
Manning argues that the decision to blank him proper representation contravenes his right to a fair hearing.
Senior Counsel Deborah Peake and attorney Ricky Harnanan, who are seeking the interest of the Committee, say it has been the custom and practice to have a lawyer present to advise. However, the lawyer cannot question since the forum is not within a court of law and it is a well known fact that Parliament and the judiciary can in no way intertwine.
Peake argued that the Committee is ready to proceed and questioned whether this legal intermission was a diversion.
The Privileges Committee, which is chaired by House Speaker Wade Mark, has the majority of Government members.
“We came here as soon as possible to indicate a breach of our rights. We came asking the court to hear the matter …as a matter of urgency,” said Jeremie, who served as the attorney general in the last Manning administration before it was removed from power in the May 24 general election. (CMC)