Lightbourne startles 'Dudus' enquiry with statements
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Dorothy Lightbourne startled the Manatt-Dudus commission when she revealed that she disagreed with interpretations of an eminent attorney-at-law she had engaged to defend her, after she was sued by Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, in the aftermath of his extradition to the United States.
Lightbourne said that she did not agree with some of the interpretations her lawyer, RNA Henriques, tendered to the Supreme Court on her behalf in the case against her.
The Minister also backtracked on claims she initially made to the Manatt-Dudus commission of enquiry that she buckled to public pressure and signed the extradition request for Christopher Coke.
“When you yielded to the desire of civil society to put the matter before the court, you were sued by Mr. Coke’s lawyers?” asked Patrick Atkinson, the attorney for former national Security Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips.
“I did not yield to civil society, but when I look at what happened I signed the extradition request to put the matter before the court,” said Lightbourne.
The Justice Minister said she resorted to Section 13 of the Constitution after circumstances influenced her decision.
Responding to questions from her attorney, Lloyd Barnett last week, Lightbourne said the intensity of the public outcry last year, influenced by political opposition, pushed her to sign the extradition request.
Lightbourne maintained that she refused to sign the extradition request for Coke because it was unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional.
However, she said civil society thought that she was overstepping her authority in her refusal to sign the extradition request.
“That is why I sought a legal opinion,” Lightbourne said in reference to her seeking a declaration from the Supreme Court as to her powers in relation to her discretionary powers to sign the request.
However, Lightbourne said the planned court action did not work out. “The whole thing became political,” she said.
“And so you signed away Mr. Coke, so if civil society brings pressure to bear, you are going to sign away people’s rights?" Atkinson asked.
“It’s not Coke…this thing went way beyond Coke,” Lightbourne said.
Lightbourne also said she could not recall what contained in some of her own affidavits, in response to Atkinson’s queries.
As Patrick Atkinson, fired questions, Lightbourne admitted that while Coke’s affidavits were sent to her, she did not read them.
Lightbourne said she was made aware of their contents when they were read to her by the attorney for the People’s National Party, K.D. Knight, during cross-examination.
Atkinson then asked: “When you yielded to the desire of civil society to put the matter before the court to put the matter before the court, you were sued by Mr. Coke’s lawyers?”
Lightbourne responded: “I did not yield to civil society, but when I look at what was happening I signed the extradition request to put the matter before the court…”I did not agree with sections of the affidavits…”
Atkinson then asked: “You never saw the document in the case against you?”
“I had nothing to do with affidavits,” she replied.
Atkinson then asked: “Did you read the affidavits?”
“I did not read it,” Lightbourne responded.
Atkinson then asked the Justice Minister if she considered the action important to which she replied yes.