Tue | Jun 15, 2021

Reid and Pinnock granted leave to challenge judge’s decision to order trial

Published:Friday | June 11, 2021 | 1:40 PM
Ruel Reid (left) and Fritz Pinnock are now before the court in a multimillion-dollar fraud case.

The Supreme Court has granted leave to former Education Minister Ruel Reid and Caribbean Maritime University president Professor Fritz Pinnock to go to the Judicial Review Court in a bid to quash a ruling of Senior Parish Judge Chester Crooks in their fraud case.

They are contending that the judge should not have ruled in an earlier matter because of a conflict of interest.

Crooks and Reid are both past students of Munro College in St Elizabeth.

Reid and Pinnock are now before the court in a multimillion-dollar fraud case.

Crooks had heard a preliminary objection from their attorney Hugh Wildman that the trial should not take place because personnel from the Financial Investigations Division did not have the authority in law to arrest or bring charges against the accused.

On February 4 this year, Crooks disagreed and ordered that the fraud case should go to trial.

At the time, however, Crooks revealed that he would not try the case because there was a potential conflict of interest.

Last month, Reid and Pinnock filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking leave to go to the Judicial Review Court to quash Crooks' ruling following the discovery that the judge is also a Munro past student.

In court documents, Crooks, who is named as the respondent, said while he did not openly state the exact potential conflict of interest, he considered that Reid was senior to him at Munro and was the head boy at one point.

Wildman and another attorney, Indira Patmore, had argued in chambers that when Reid appeared before Crooks, the former minister did not know of the connection.

Justice Courtney Daye heard the application and granted leave today.

September 20 is now set for a first hearing so a date can be set for a hearing in the Judicial Review Court.

Wildman said his clients were happy with today's outcome.

Wildman said it was also a vindication of the position that they are on good grounds.

The judge is being represented by lawyers from the Attorney General's Chambers.

Reid, his wife Sharen, their daughter Sharelle along with Pinnock and Brown's Town division councillor Kim Brown Lawrence are facing fraud and corruption charges in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court.

The accused were arrested in October 2019 for allegedly defrauding the Ministry of Education and the Caribbean Maritime University of millions of dollars

The case is set for mention on July 27.

- Barbara Gayle

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