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'Leak an attack on the media'

PORT OF SPAIN — An attack on the media. This is how former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj yesterday described the leak of a T&T Guardian reporter’s telephone records to the Chaguaramas Development Authority.

Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj.

He was referring to yesterday’s Sunday Guardian report which said the CDA had launched an investigation to trace the reporter’s source of information for a September 9 article. The reporter’s article indicated that moves were afoot to disband the CDA board.

The article said the reporter’s records were being used to trace incoming and outgoing calls to find out who leaked the information. Maharaj, in his address to a Clico United Policyholders’ meeting at the San Fernando City Hall Auditorium, Harris Promenade, said he was amazed to learn that the Telecommunication Services of T&T handed over of the journalist’s telephone call record.

He said the passing of that information to a government agency “strikes at the root of illegal conduct”. Maharaj said citizens should be concerned by this illegal development.

“Under the laws of T&T it is imprisonment and it is a breach of confidence and it is illegal… Therefore I think that it is a serious attack on the media for the source of information of the journalist to be violated,” he said.

The former AG said under the law, if the government wrongfully tapped “your telephone, the minister who authorises it could be jailed. That is a serious matter”.

He said journalists protect their source of information and had gone to jail in the past to do so. Maharaj said a source of information was integral for journalists.

The former AG also took issue with the impromptu dismissal of attorneys Fyard Hosein, SC, and Michael Quamina, both of whom were representing the state at the commission of enquiry into the collapse of Clico. The two lawyers were hired under then finance minister Winston Dookeran when the commission started.

They have been replaced by president of the Law Association Seenath Jairam, SC, who is leading attorney, Jagdeo Singh and Joseph Toney. Maharaj questioned why the lawyers were dismissed. He said their removal would cost the government more money in legal fees.

Maharaj questioned why the government was dragging its feet to pay the policyholders. He said it cannot be because the state does not have money to pay. He said the Government has turned its back on the Clico policyholders. (Guardian)

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