'Nothing to hide' - Hayles says court action not designed to keep OCG report from the public
Member of Parliament (MP) for Western Hanover Ian Hayles is defending his decision to go to court to block the publication of a report by the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) despite criticisms that he is opening a constitutional conundrum.
"The application for a Supreme Court injunction to bar the tabling of a report to Parliament from the contractor general raises serious constitutional questions and should be watched carefully," says former Prime Minister Bruce Golding in a submission published in today's In Focus.
To watch the proceedings carefully, as suggested by Golding, persons should focus on the Supreme Court where the parties are set to return tomorrow as lawyers representing Hayles continue to make their argument that his constitutional rights would be abridged by the publication of the OCG report conducted into allegations of conflict of interest, irregularity and/or impropriety in relation to the construction of buildings without approval from the Hanover Parish Council.
Last week, Hayles pointed to a gag order issued by the court as he refused to discuss the details of the case, but argued that his legal action was not designed to prevent the findings of the OCG from making their way into the public arena.
"There is nothing to hide, but every Jamaican who has lies told on them will seek to clear their good name," Hayles told The Sunday Gleaner. "The reason I am going to court is to protect the good name I have built over the years and the good name of my family, who have been doing business in Jamaica for more than 30 years."
He argued that he could not allow the publication of a report that could have been compiled using unconstitutional methods and would not reflect the truth.
"I have asked some pertinent questions in Parliament, and the people of Jamaica need to know the answers to the questions about the use of wiretapping, foreign entities being involved in investigating Jamaicans, breaking into persons' social-media accounts such as Facebook, and meetings with politicians.
"Jamaicans also need to know if anyone is above the law, and at the end of the day, my quest is to protect the rights of every businessman, every businesswoman and every Jamaican," added Hayles, who tabled 13 questions in Parliament on March 9.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness has 21 days to answer the questions which have been described by Contractor General Dirk Harrison as "at the lowest inflammatory and at highest potentially defamatory, amounting to fake news, as some of the suggestions are without merit and others untrue".
But Hayles is adamant that the answers to his questions are of interest to all Jamaicans.
"Absolute power corrupts absolutely and injustice anywhere was a threat to justice everywhere," said Hayles, as he declared that he was looking forward to the answers from Holness.
The OCG's report on the conduct of Hayles was submitted to Parliament more than a month ago, and was expected to have been tabled when the House of Representatives met last week.
But the unprecedented court action by the Opposition MP put paid to the tabling, leaving Jamaicans to speculate about the contents.
Sunday Gleaner sources have indicated that the OCG has recommended that Hayles be referred to the police for a criminal investigation into his conduct and that of his wife, Charlotte Alexander, and his mother, Pauline Gray.
"There is no recommendation from the OCG on two key areas that it decided to probe, whether there was corruption in the use of his Constituency Development Fund by Mr Hayles and the legality for the purchase or occupation of certain parcels of land by Hayles and his family members," said one source.
EVIDENCE OF FORGERY
The sources say in the 232-page report the OCG claims it found prima facie evidence of forgery with respect to a sketch plan by Mrs Hayles in respect to two plots of land purchased by her in Cousins Cove, Hanover.
The OCG also reportedly referred Hayles and his wife to the commissioner of police for further investigations for possible breaches of the Forgery Act 1942.
In addition, the OCG recommended that the Parish Council Act be used to sanction Hayles and his associates for unlawful building of a plaza, and for consideration to be given to demolishing the plaza.
The OCG has also recommended that the police conduct a probe to determine if Hayles and his wife conspired to defraud the Hanover Parish Council, and if there is truth that the MP attempted to influence the actions of a public officer, former Mayor of Lucea Shernet Haughton, in the lawful conduct of her duties contrary to the Corruption Prevention Act.
But the sources note that the OCG also reported that it saw no evidence to suggest that Hayles has a legal interest in the properties which sparked the investigation, 'Just One Plaza' in Orange Bay, Hanover, or 'The Resort' in Cousins Cove.
Section 30. Contractor General Act
Remedy under any other provision of law unaffected.
30. (1) A contractor general may initiate or continue any investigation and report thereon pursuant to this act notwithstanding any legal proceedings relating to the subject matter of the investigation.
(2) Nothing in subsection (1) shall be construed as preventing a court from ordering the contractor general not to publish a report or part thereof if the court is of opinion that such publication is likely to prejudice any proceedings pending before the court.