The judgment in a nutshell: PNP officials lose Trafigura appeal
Following a ruling of the Privy Council this morning, five functionaries of the People’s National Party (PNP) will now have to testify in open court in the long-running Trafigura bribery.
The Privy Council upheld the rulings of local courts.
In their 21-page judgment, the British law lords said the nature of the matter under investigation "is one which is capable of affecting the polity of the country".
Former Prime Minister and former PNP president, Portia Simpson Miller; former chairman Robert Pickersgill; current chairman Phillip Paulwell; former general secretary Colin Campbell and businessman Norton Hinds are the persons to testify.
Lawyers for Simpson Miller and the other PNP functionaries challenged the decision that they are to answer questions from Dutch authorities in open court about a $31 million donation from Trafigura with which the government had an oil lifting contract at the time.
Here's what the 21-page judgment said in a nutshell:
- The nature of the matter under investigation "is one which is capable of affecting the polity of the country". "This is highly relevant to whether the evidence should be taken in public and was not a matter given undue weight."
- The PNP officials were given the opportunity to give their evidence in private but did not take it up. "There was no material before the court to lead to the conclusion that a public hearing might jeopardise the investigation in the Netherlands, or any subsequent investigation or proceedings which might follow in Jamaica," the judges said.
- The appellants had argued that the Dutch investigation was politically motivated and requiring them to give evidence openly supported that alleged agenda. However, the Privy Council dismissed that, agreeing with the Jamaican Supreme Court, which first ruled on the matter, that the status of the PNP five, among other factors, was important. "The court was entitled to consider that the public importance of, and interest in, the investigation, together with the public profile of the witnesses, were relevant to the question whether the proceedings should take place in public," the judges said.
The case was heard by Lady Dorrian, who wrote the judgment, and Lords Lloyd-Jones, Hamblen, Leggatt and Stephens.
There was no dissent.
Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.