Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley says he faces possible bankruptcy because of legal matters being brought against him by Attorney-General Anand Ramlogan. He also said the Opposition had information that led him to conclude the Government was engaged in illegal spying on certain citizens. Dr Rowley spoke during his bi-monthly news conference at his Charles Street office, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
He said over the past few months Ramlogan had sent him three pre-action protocol letters which he said were sent because he had raised several issues including:
• The AG’s role and conduct in the extradition process for businessmen Steve Ferguson and Ishwar Galbaransingh;
• the role or lack thereof of the Financial Intelligence Unit; and
• the significant increases in the allocation to the AG to engage in legal actions and the need for transparency and accountability in the process
Dr Rowley pointed out that while the AG was using State resources to take legal action, he had to use his personal resources to respond, as the Parliament did not fund his office for that purpose. “So I, in the requirement of discharging my duty without fear or favour, I am in danger of bankruptcy,” he said. “If the AG wants to sue me in his private capacity as Anand Ramlogan suing Keith Rowley, fine, the court will determine that,” he added. The Opposition leader said the PNM objected to Ramlogan’s using his ministerial office “to seek to intimidate me and I have to respond in my private capacity.” Dr Rowley said his office had no public budget and Parliament “will not provide a legal defence for me and therefore everytime he files a suit, I have to find a lawyer.”
Rowley said all the lawsuits were the result of the discharge of his public duty as Opposition Leader. He said the country’s democracy was “at risk because the conduct of certain officeholders is not as it should be.” Dealing with the issue of illegal spying Rowley said he was convinced of it on the basis of “significant information” the Opposition had received. “The Government of T&T is actively penetrating people’s privacy without the legal authority,” Rowley insisted. He declined to elaborate on that matter yesterday. A similar claim was raised in the public domain a few weeks ago about spying on Cabinet ministers, journalists and others. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has accused her predecessor Patrick Manning of using the Security Intelligence Agency to spy on citizens.