Yesterday Karl Hudson-Phillips, QC, called on Attorney-General Kamla Persad-Bissessar to remember the Code of Ethics contained in the Legal Profession Act 1986 to which even the head of the Bar (the AG) is subjected to, when she is making statements. He was responding to comments she made in a political meeting in Couva on Wednesday night in which she asked about the terms of his engagement as Special Counsel to the Anti-Corruption Squad investigating Government projects.
The text of the letter is as follows:
November 30, 2001
The Hon Kamla Persad Bissessar, MP
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs,
25-27 St Vincent Street,
PORT OF SPAIN.
Dear Attorney General
My attention has been drawn to certain reports attributed to you on page 3 of the Express Newspaper of today's date. These statements appear under a bold headline "AG queries contracts for Lindquist and Karl."
You are reported as indicating that there is nothing on file in your Ministry concerning the terms of my engagement as Special Counsel to the Anti Corruption Squad investigating certain Government projects. By letter of the 20 November, 2001 you wrote to me indicating that you did not "have sight of the Letter of Agreement" covering my appointment. You requested me to supply you with "a copy of the document." I immediately replied by letter dated 22 November 2001 forwarding for your information my letter of appointment dated 7 November 2000 under the hand of your predecessor, the Hon Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj. From the newspaper report referred to above, it appears that you have either not received my reply and its enclosure or that you require further information which you are soliciting from me via the Press.
I am more than a little taken back and disappointed at the reports attributed to the titular head of the Bar of Trinidad and Tobago particularly with respect to the further statement attributed to you that the briefing of counsel by the Attorney General or for that matter any Government Ministry is subject to the tendering process supervised by the Director of Contracts.
I cannot believe that you are not aware that the briefing of counsel has never been subject to such a process. Nor is briefing of counsel referred to as "Letters of Agreement". I might have been confused by the use of the term.
Since you appear to be in doubt as to the circumstances in which I accepted the brief as Special Counsel offered me by your predecessor, I forward for your information my letter to him of the 8 November 2000. I think it is salutary for me to quote the penultimate paragraph of my letter as follows:-
"Given the present circumstances, I think that it would be prudent and ethical for me to limit my retainer to cover matters which I anticipate that I can accomplish prior to the 11 December 2000 (election day).
The Attorney General may wish to review my appointment after that date. In the circumstances, I attach for your attention a retainer which I anticipate will cover work which I can reasonably expect to accomplish in that period."
It is my wish that further statements by you concerning the above are made bearing in mind the Code of Ethics contained in the Legal Profession Act 1986 to which even the head of the Bar is subject.
Because of the publicity given to your statements I feel constrained, regrettably, to copy this letter to the Press.
Karl T Hudson-Phillips, QC
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