Portia withdraws Trafigura appeal
Lawyers representing Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and other People's National Party (PNP) officials in the Trafigura investigations have withdrawn their appeal against a ruling of the Constitutional Court that their rights would not be breached if they answered questions in open court in the Trafigura investigations.
Queen's Counsel K.D. Knight, in making the announcement yesterday in the Supreme Court, disclosed that the appellants will instead pursue an appeal against a ruling made by Supreme Court judge Lennox Campbell, who had started to hear the case. Justice Campbell was stopped from hearing the case pending an order from the Court of Appeal.
Knight said his team had discussions and came to the conclusion recently that the Constitutional Court was the wrong venue and that that ruling would be very difficult to overturn. He said they were now awaiting the transcripts in Justice Campbell's ruling for that appeal to be heard.
Dutch authorities want to question the PNP members about a J$31-million donation to the party by Dutch company Trafigura Beheer in 2006.
It is illegal for Dutch companies to donate to political parties. When the the donation was made, Trafigura had an oil-lifting contract with the PNP administration that formed the government at the time.
Simpson Miller, party chairman Robert Pickersgill, senior members Colin Campbell and Phillip Paulwell, along with businessman Norton Hinds, had taken the matter to the Constitutional Court.
The lawyers representing them had first argued before Justice Campbell that the PNP members could not be called upon to give evidence in relation to Trafigura, as they have diplomatic immunity. They also sought to have the matter heard in chambers rather than open court, but Justice Campbell turned down their applications.
The court and lawyers representing the respondents, who are the attorney general and the director of public prosecutions, commended Knight and the other lawyers for the appellants for not wasting judicial time.