Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
OCHO RIOS, St Ann:
CONTRACTOR GENERAL Dirk Harrison has welcomed statements made by Justice Minister Senator Mark Golding against changes to the Contractor General Act to allow for a defamation suit.
Addressing a St Ann Justices of the Peace Association awards banquet aboard the Carnival Breeze cruise ship in Ocho Rios on Wednesday, Harrison said he embraced the comments of the justice minister.
"I have taken note of certain public sentiments regarding the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) in respect of the discharge of its lawful mandate pursuant to the Contractor General Act, especially as in regard to changes to the Contractor General Act to allow for defamation suit," Harrison began.
According to Harrison: "I wish to formally recognise a statement which was attributed to Senator, the Honourable Mark Golding, minister of justice, which was carried in the media, where it was stated he would be cautious over any such change to the rules governing the OCG."
"I wish to use this forum to embrace that statement," Harrison said on Wednesday.
Golding was adding his voice to a debate that has emerged since Harrison, after investigating the Spaldings Market controversy, indicated that member of parliament for North West Manchester, Richard Azan, had breached the government procurement regulations and labelled his actions in the incident as politically corrupt.
After that, Harrison asked Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn to determine if Azan should be criminally charged for any offence in the matter.
The DPP ruled that there was no basis to charge Azan.
Harrison said the OCG, in the conduct of its investigations, would ensure that where there is no evidence to substantiate allegations, the OCG would indicate as such and state as well that the allegations are unfounded.
At the same time, Harrison has defended his office against suggestions that he has an agenda, following the release of two special investigative reports by the OCG.
"It has been suggested in the public domain that I have an agenda. This comment was made in the aftermath of recent release of two special investigative reports by my office. I agree, I do have an agenda, to do what is right at all times," Harrison told the gathering.