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Manatt issue returns to Parliament

Published:Thursday | April 22, 2010 | 4:00 AM

Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

THE PARLIAMENTARY Opposition has taken the burning Manatt, Phelps and Phillips affair back to Parliament, as it moves to get answers from Prime Minister Bruce Golding on an issue that refuses to go away.

In three weeks time, the prime minister is expected to respond to a number of questions posed by Dr Peter Phillips, the man who broke the story in Parliament in March.

At that time, the prime minister declared that the Government had not engaged the services of the United States (US) law firm, but used resources in the Attorney General's Department to deal with extradition matters.

Determined to get answers on an issue that has received coverage from local and international media, Phillips has confronted Golding with eight questions on the alleged contractual arrangement that existed between the Government and the US law firm.

Following statements on radio by local attorney Harold Brady in early April chiding Information Minister Daryl Vaz for comments he made in relation to the Manatt saga, the matter has been referred to general secretary of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) party Karl Samuda.

However, despite a Washington Post article on April 15 charging that US officials had no reason to believe that Manatt was representing anyone other than the Government of Jamaica, the administration remains tight-lipped on the ensuing saga.

Facilitated by Brady

Information on the US Department of Justice website indicated that the contract, which was facilitated by Brady, provided services on treaty, political and economic issues.

The former national security minister wants to know whether the prime minister was aware of published reports in the Washington Post that said a minister in the Government of Jamaica attended a meeting with US authorities at which Manatt, Phelps and Phillips was present.

"Is the prime minister aware of such a meeting? If so, who was the minister who attended the meeting?" the question stated.

Phillips also wants to know if anyone acting on behalf of the Government has paid money to Manatt, Phelps and Phillips.

The prime minister has also been asked whether he was aware of the postings on the US Justice Department website which indicated that a contract was entered into by Harold Brady with Manatt, who asserted on the document that he was authorised to do so by the Government of Jamaica.

- edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com