Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
An investigation ordered by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is now under way to determine how a witness statement at the centre of the bribery case involving three high-profile Jamaicans was leaked to the media before defence attorneys were given a copy.
But with the probe still in its early stages, DPP Paula Llewellyn has sought to distance her office from the leak which has outraged defence attorneys, who have blasted it as "an unethical breach".
"As far as I am concerned, this improper disclosure did not come from my office. In this case, we followed the procedure," Llewellyn insisted.
"This particular file was kept under lock and key by the members of the team that were doing the preliminary research and work for the 23-page opinion that was produced in the matter for our review," she added.
The investigation, which is being led by a high-ranking member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, was set in motion this week after one defence attorney wrote to Llewellyn last Friday to complain.
In the letter, the attorney charged that extracts from the statement were reported on in a television newscast last week, even though lawyers for the three men had not been given full disclosure of all the allegations in the case.
Llewellyn told The Gleaner yesterday that she immediately gave instructions for the statements to be copied and served on defence attorneys.
In addition, she said, her office requested that Police Commissioner Owen Ellington launch a departmental probe "to ascertain if there was any breach by anyone within the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) who would have had custody of the statement".
"I viewed it (the leak) with alarm because I know that improper disclosure of statements to members of the media will be inimical to the interest of justice for all of the parties," she said.
"These allegations are unproven in a court of law … and, put out in that way, it can tarnish the reputation of the accused, it can act as a security threat to the witnesses for the prosecution, or at the very least, it can intimidate or render them less than enthusiastic in giving their evidence," Llewellyn explained.
SHOULD NOT AFFECT CASE
Despite the concerns, the DPP said the leak would not adversely affect the case because it would be heard by a judge alone.
"It's a judge who will be the judge of the facts of the law. And because of the high professional standard that the judge has to maintain, the judge cannot allude to anything in the media," she explained.
In the meantime, Llewellyn declined to say whether prosecutors still want a statement from Ellington.
"It would not be prudent for me to comment on that issue at this time. But I can assure you that at the appropriate time in the very near future, the appropriate comment will be made," she said.
"The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the commissioner of police have always enjoyed a cordial, professional and cooperative relationship and that remains," she added.
Parliamentarian Daryl Vaz is charged with breaching the Corruption Prevention Act while businessman Bruce Bicknell and Senior Superintendent of Police James Forbes are charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice arising from a traffic stop in east Kingston in April.
They are scheduled to return to court on September 5.