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MPs must adhere to rule of law, says contractor general

Published:Wednesday | September 18, 2013 | 12:00 AM
AZAN

Contractor General Dirk Harrison has recommended that "due consideration is given to instituting appropriate disciplinary action against the Hon Richard Azan, in accordance with the Westminster model of governance".

The suggestion has been made in a 140-page report into what Harrison described as a web of conspiracy, which The Sunday Gleaner brought to light in April this year.

Harrison said State Minister Azan's actions were, at best, politically corrupt and has referred the matter to the director of public prosecutions to determine if the politician and others should be charged for conspiracy to defraud the revenue of the Clarendon Parish Council.

The contractor general said Azan, who is junior minister in the transport, works and housing ministry, through his actions, has brought into disrepute the Clarendon Parish Council. He said Azan's actions are, "at best, tantamount to being politically corrupt as defined by Transparency International".

"His actions have resulted in: the violation of internal approval processes at the Clarendon Parish Council; the invitation and facili-tation of the erection of illegally constructed wooden shops; Mr John Bryant's unauthorised entry upon Government of Jamaica property; and the usurping of the authority of the Clarendon Parish Council," Harrison summarised.

REFERRED TO THE DPP

The contractor general, pursuant to Sections 21 and 29 of the Contractor General Act, "refers to the Honourable Director of Public Prosecutions, for due consideration, whether the conduct of Minister Richard Azan, MP (member of parliament) for North West Clarendon, Mr John Bryant, Bryant Construction, and Mrs Bridget Daley-Dixon, constituency secretary, give(s) rise to a conspiracy to defraud the revenue of the Clarendon Parish Council and/or any other criminal acts", the special report continued.

The contractor general argued that that irrespective of the arguments presented regarding the need for the referenced wooden shops, and the benefits which have been derived from them, it was the OCG's considered opinion that due process and the rule of law must be adhered to, primarily by MPs and other elected officials.

"Due consideration must also be given to the fact that Minister Azan, in convening and/or participating in a meeting, where herein, rates were set for the lease of the illegally constructed wooden shops and the designation of the person responsible for the collection of the rent, further implicates the Hon Richard Azan in the web of conspiracy," the CG said.

Harrison also made it clear that Azan meddled in a matter over which he did not have jurisdiction and should have known better, seeing that he had served as a councillor for a number of years.

"The CG has concluded that Minister Richard Azan overstepped his bounds by directly and/or indirectly usurping the rightful authority of the Clarendon Parish Council and then expecting/indicating that the matter would later be regularised by the parish council and the contractor.

"The CG's conclusion is buttressed by the fact that the Hon Richard Azan, being a former councillor at the Clarendon Parish Council, ought to have known the proper process and the distinction between the activities and authority of the political arm of the parish council and that of the administrative arm of the parish council," read another section of the special report.

In his defence, Azan, under oath, said he received no personal benefit from the clandestine arrangement.

"Well, I am telling you now, I swear I never get a cent, or a sweety, or even a drink of water from anything that was collected from the Spaldings Market," said Azan.

tyrone.reid@gleanerjm.com