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Trafigura matter being pursued in futility — Portia lawyers

Published:Tuesday | January 17, 2017 | 12:15 PM

Livern Barrett, Senior Staff Reporter

Lawyers for the People's National Party (PNP) President Portia Simpson Miller have asserted that the Trafigura matter is being pursued in futility.

According to Simpson Miller's lead attorney K.D. Knight, under Jamaican law as well as the Mutual Assistance Criminal Matters Act, his client and other PNP functionaries cannot be compelled to give witness statements to authorities in The Netherlands.

Knight was making submissions in the Appeal Court in the challenge brought by Simpson Miller and the other PNP functionaries following a ruling by retired High Court judge Justice Lennox Campbell.

Campbell had ruled that the PNP president as well as its chairman Robert Pickersgill, regional chairman Phillip Paulwell, then general secretary Colin Campbell and businessman Norton Hinds should answer questions in open court about a $31-million donation to the PNP in 2006 by the Dutch firm Trafigura Baheer.

To support his assertion that the Trafigura matter is dead, Knight cited section six of the Mutual Assistance Criminal Matters Act, which states that a person who is summoned to appear as a witness in Jamaica and fails to do so should not be subjected to any penalty or measure of compulsion.

Knight also argued that the reasoning applied by Campbell in his ruling that the Trafigura matter be heard in open court is flawed.

He says this is because Campbell mistakenly categorised the proceedings as a hearing.

Asserting that it is not a hearing, Knight argued that any decision based on a misunderstanding of law and fact becomes irrational.

He says when that happens the decision ought to be set aside.