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'It was a mistake'

Published:Thursday | March 18, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Phillips ... We need to have the air fully cleared, not so much by Mr Brady, but by the Government.
Vaz ... The Government has no contractual arrangement with Mr Brady, Harold Brady & Company or any other private law firm in relation to the current extradition matter.
Attorney-at-law Harold Brady.
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Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter

Attorney-at-law Harold Brady took to the airwaves yesterday in an effort to blow away the stormy clouds which have hovered above the Government since allegations surfaced on Tuesday that his offices had contracted a United States law firm on behalf of the Government.

However, Brady's defence failed to quiet the Opposition People's National Party (PNP), which argued that he raised more questions than he answered regarding the relationship between the Government and the law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

The Government also continued to distance itself from the deal and the insinuation that the American law firm had been retained to lobby US authorities on behalf of Jamaica in the ongoing imbroglio over the extradition request for Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

"The Government has no contractual arrangement with Mr Brady, Harold Brady & Company or any other private law firm in relation to the current extradition matter," Information Minister Daryl Vaz declared during a post-Cabinet media briefing yesterday.

Vaz's claim was echoed by Brady, who said allegations that he was acting on behalf of the Government were unfounded.

That denial came despite documents submitted to the US Department of Justice which stated that Manatt, Phelps and Phillips was acting on behalf of: "The government of Jamaica through Harold C.W. Brady".

"I have not been retained by the Government to act on its behalf in the matters referred to by the Member of Parliament (Senior Opposition member Dr Peter Phillips)," Brady said in a press release.

Subsequently corrected

He later told The Gleaner that the document which indicated that the US firm was operating on behalf of the Jamaican government was subsequently corrected.

"It was an error through a footnote which was corrected last year," Brady said, even though he gave no explanation as to why he signed the document with the incorrect information.

That is one of several questions which Phillips, the Opposition's point man, believes must be answered.

"We need to have the air fully cleared, not so much by Mr Brady, but by the Government who, on the face of the documents filed with the US Department of Justice, Mr Brady purports to represent," Phillips told The Gleaner.

"If he does not represent the Government, then that would be a serious issue which I would expect the Government to take up in different quarters," added Phillips as he rejected Brady's claim that the link between the law firm and the Government was by way of a footnote.

Phillips pointed to what he said was a damning statement appearing before Brady's signature on the original document.

Authorised

"The undersigned, Harold Brady, consultant to the Government of Jamaica, hereby confirms that he is authorised on behalf of the government of Jamaica to approve of the engagement of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips as set forth in this letter," the statement reads.

Phillips said: "If somebody signs as being authorised by the Government of Jamaica and they do not represent Jamaica, then it begs some action."

That is a position supported by Vaz, who had earlier told the post-Cabinet media briefing that action would be taken if it was proven that anyone falsely claimed to be representing the Government.

"If it is that anybody has signed or done anything indicating that they were acting on behalf of the Government, then they must either provide that evidence or whatever sanctions that need to be carried out are carried out," said Vaz.

Yesterday, The Gleaner was unsuccessful in its attempts to get a comment from Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

arthur.hall@gleanerjm.com