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Opposition, Gov't lock horns over Brady contract

Published:Wednesday | March 17, 2010 | 12:00 AM

FIREWORKS WENT off liberally in Gordon House yesterday after Opposition member Peter Phillips made a startling revelation concerning an alleged contractual arrangement between the Government and a United Sates law firm, which works through a prominent local attorney to provide services in relation to political, economic and treaty agreements.

The sum contracted - US$100,000 per quarter - was contained in a document on the US Department of Justice website.

The issue raised by Phillips was flatly denied by Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who said the Government had not entered into any such agreement with any law firm in the US.

The explosive issue led to an Opposition walkout. Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller accused Speaker of the House Delroy Chuck of displaying bias in his rulings.

Questions about agreement

Controversy began to stir after Phillips raised questions about an agreement he said the Jamaican Government had entered into with a law firm called Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, which has registered itself as the agent of the Government of Jamaica through Harold C.W. Brady of Brady and Company, a local law firm.

Brady is described in the document as a consultant.

Phillips' question arose during a debate on the Sharing of Forfeited Property (United Kingdom) Order Resolution in the House.

"My question is: Does this represent a contractual obligation involving the Government of Jamaica? Does it relate to extradition matters, and is it properly entered into by the individual?"

In a sharp response, Golding said: "Let me make it quite clear. The Government of Jamaica has not engaged any legal firm, any consultant, any entity whatsoever, in relation to any extradition matter other than deploying the resources that are available within the Attorney General's Department, who has a duty and a responsibility to guide the Government in these matters."

Terms of relationship

A letter supposedly signed by Manatt, Phelps and Phillips to Brady on the US Justice Department website said: "This letter describes the terms of our relationship. Manatt, Phelps and Phillips ('we' or 'us') will represent and advise Brady and Company, attorneys-at-law ('you') in connection with political and economic matters, including treaty agreements between Jamaica and the US.

"You agree that we will be paid a flat fee of US$100,000 quarterly which will be remitted at the beginning of each quarter for services rendered."

During the verbal battle in the House, Opposition members rose, raising points of order, but these were dismissed by the Speaker.

Turning to the Christopher 'Dudus' Coke extradition matter, Golding blasted the Opposition for seeking to force the Government's hand in signing the extradition request.

According to the prime minister, the issue was a treaty matter and was not a court matter. Discussions, he said, were still ongoing with the United States.