Leys adamant Government did not hire US law firm
Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter
SOLICITOR GENERAL Douglas Leys has defended his decision to have allowed a representative of American law firm Manatt, Phelps and Phillips to sit in on his meeting with United States State Department officials on the Christopher 'Dudus' Coke extradition matter.
Leys has also disclosed that he was approached by attorney-at-law Harold Brady to engage the services of the law firm months before the December plane ride reported by Prime Minister Bruce Golding.
Responding to questions from The Sunday Gleaner, Leys said he was approached by Brady sometime in September with the suggestion that the Government should engage the services of Manatt, Phelps and Phillips.
Golding claims that this approach was made in December when Leys and Brady were on a flight headed to Washington.
"From my recollection, it was sometime in September that Mr Brady started to suggest that the Government should consider engaging the services of Manatt, Phelps," Leys said in his response to The Sunday Gleaner's questions.
no signed contract
He said while Brady maintained that he had a relationship with the law firm, there was no indication that he had a signed contract.
Leys said he met with representatives of Manatt while in Washington where a discussion was conducted on the possibility of Jamaica engaging the services of the law firm to assist the country in extradition matters.
"The representatives of the firm were told by me in the meeting in the presence of Mr Harold Brady that we did not need their services now, but we would consider engaging the firm if the need arises," Leys said.
He told The Sunday Gleaner that the firm offered to attend the planned meeting with the State Depart-ment officials as an observer.
"At the material time, I did not see anything wrong in having a representative attend the meeting at the State Department for the following reasons: he was only an observer: there was no cost to the Government of Jamaica; the individual who sat in on the meeting was well known for his expertise in this area."
According to Leys: "If during our continued discussions with the US State and Justice Departments issues of US law were to arise which necessitated advice from US lawyers, this was a firm which could provide quality advice."
The solicitor general was adamant that the Government had not engaged the services of Manatt, Phelps and Phillips and said he was not aware of any plan to contract the company in the future.
Leys pointed out that if a person misrepresents the Government and causes the country to suffer loss or damage, action can be taken against him or her.
But he was not in a position to say if that was the case with Brady, or if the documents posted by the US Department of Justice in which Manatt purports to represent the Government of Jamaica had been corrected.
"I have seen a copy of a document which is an engagement letter between Harold Brady and Company and Manatt, Phelps. I have asked Mr Brady to allow me to inspect the original documents. Arrange-ments are now being made for an inspection early next week as I have not been in Kingston from Tuesday of this (last) week," Leys said.
Brady was mandated by the Government to provide evidence of what he claims was the correction of an error that the law firm was acting on behalf of the country.