Home News Jagdeo accuses Granger of “covering up” for Ministers
…as AG issue goes unresolved
President David Granger is being accused of covering up for his Ministers by sweeping serious issues under the carpet, as appears to be the case regarding the Attorney General, Basil Williams and his unruly behaviour towards a High Court Judge.
This is the view of Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, who is urging the Head of State to take disciplinary actions against Williams over his unacceptable conduct, noting that failure to do so would ultimately expose the true nature of the President.
“I would expect that the President would treat this matter seriously and if he sweeps it under the carpet, it is one more very telling trait of the President that exposes his real nature about how he deals with matters when they concern people in his inner circle,” Jagdeo stated during a press conference at the Leader of the Opposition Office on Monday.
He outlined similar situations where President Granger failed to take action against Cabinet colleagues who made major blunders in the execution of their duties, including the infamous D’Urban Park scandal and the $605 million drug procurement fiasco.
“People say the President is aloof and does not concern himself with those matters, but when he does, he doesn’t do these things with a view of bringing them to their conclusion or establish an independent process that will guide him,” Jagdeo said as he lamented the many free passes being given to Ministers who constantly slip up.
Regarding the AG incident, the Opposition Leader had called for investigations at both the level of the Executive and Judiciary, since the matter brought into disrepute the State’s Minister of Justice and revolved around his conduct in a courtroom.
Guyana Times attempted to ask President Granger, on the sidelines of a book launch on Monday evening, about his thoughts on the Attorney General’s behaviour, but was advised by an officer of his Press and Publicity Unit that he would not be taking any questions.
Such a position flies in the face of the President’s claims that he is accessible to the media, even though he has not held a press conference for more than a year.
Responding to questions posed to him during the recording of the December 20, 2016 edition of “The Public Interest”, the President had said he remained accessible to the media through a number of media engagement options, including engaging with reporters at various public forums.
When Guyana Times attempted to engage with the Head of State after the book launch, the press officer advised that questions be sent to an email address – and that was done, but up to press time, no response was forthcoming.
President Granger had recently expressed confidence that the matter involving the Attorney General would be resolved soon.
However, he did not elaborate on when or how the issue would be addressed.
Guyana Press Association (GPA) President Neil Marks only recently stressed the need for the Head of State to host press conferences in order to engage the media, outside of his televised programme.
High Court drama
The issue between the Attorney General and Justice Franklin Holder stemmed from an exchange, which caused the High Court Judge to storm out of the courtroom without adjourning the proceedings that were before him. The following day, Justice Holder formally informed the Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag0 that he had abruptly walked out of the courtroom on March 23 because of statements made by the Attorney General.
The Judge said in his complaint — which has since been leaked to the public — that after hearing the AG utter the words in question, “I rose from the Bench and went into my Chambers. I did not adjourn the matter, nor did I give any instructions to the parties. I recognise Mr Williams’ behaviour as I have related to be insulting, disrespectful, and calculated to scandalise and lower the authority of the Court, in the face of the Court. Mr Williams’ behaviour was highly contemptuous and deserving of him being cited for contempt in the face of the Court. Instead of doing so at the moment, I chose to leave the Bench.”
Despite the Judge clearly stating that the Attorney General’s behaviour caused him to walk off the Bench, Williams is holding out that he is not to be blamed for what happened. In fact, the Attorney General has even defended his actions and his statements. He believes that the Judge fell prey to “transferred frustration” as a result of the defence lawyer in the matter, Anil Nandlall’s “barracking” of nearly three hours during the proceedings.
Williams is also insisting that his comment was not a threat, and he has refused to apologise to the Judge, saying to reporters at a subsequent press conference, “I don’t know about apology.”
The High Court Judge has said in his complaint that he felt disrespected by the Attorney General’s behaviour and has called for an apology in open court.