Without Fear or Favour

Last Friday, we learnt that the Attorney General had decided to intervene in the case involving Mr Boolell, the DPP, against ICAC and the Commissioner of Police. Mr Ramloll, Deputy Solicitor General, swore an affidavit to that effect. That affidavit found its way quickly on the online pages of our daily papers, and this is what we gathered from it.

Mr Ramloll states, and let us not forget, on oath, that he had been duly authorised by the Honourable Attorney General to solemnly affirm the affidavit on his behalf. This is because, he says, ICAC’s affidavit in reply to that of Mr Boolell contains ‘a sinister inference’ as regards the Attorney General and his Office. Mr Ramloll further states that the Attorney General categorically rejects that inference. The Attorney General, says Mr Ramloll, has therefore a personal, legitimate and sufficient interest to intervene in Mr Boolell’s case.

ICAC’s case, as we gather from its affidavit also reproduced on the online pages of our daily papers, is that there is a problem with the advice of Mr Ramloll. ICAC’s ‘sinister inference’, as Mr Ramloll explains, is that in 2012 he (Mr Ramloll from the Attorney General’s Office) would have given advice that went against another advice from the Office of the Attorney General in 2008, and that, to unduly favour Mr Boolell.

Now we know that the Attorney General is the Principal Legal Adviser of Government. All advice given by his office is given precisely because he is the Principal Legal Adviser of Government. All advice given is in fact given on behalf of the Solicitor General, as he is the one empowered in law to discharge the duties of the Attorney General, again, as the Principal Legal Advisor. So when you implicate one of the officers of the Attorney General, you also implicate his Office, his Solicitor General and, ultimately, himself, the Attorney General.

It then makes perfect sense that the Honourable Attorney General would want to intervene in proceedings before a Court where his credibility and repute is directly questioned. Of course, we, as mere bystanders, need him to intervene. We need to be reassured that the Principal Legal Adviser to Government, i.e., the Attorney General, is indeed acting, as the Constitution would have it, in an independent and impartial manner.

On Monday, we learnt that Mr Ramloll applied to the Court to join the Attorney General as a party. ICAC and the Commissioner of Police requested for some time to decide on the request to add the Attorney General as an intervening party.

On Tuesday, a mere 24 hours later, the application to add the Attorney General was withdrawn by Mr Ramloll.

It was also reported  that the actual Attorney General was overseas and that another Minister would be standing in for him. Later on Tuesday, the latter explained that the application was withdrawn because Mr Ramloll ought to have sworn the affidavit in his own name, that is, not in the name of the Office as a member of which he had tendered the advice in 2012.

This cannot be right – and we are not here making any sinister inferences. Mr Ramloll stated on oath that he had the authority of the Attorney General to swear the affidavit on his behalf. Is that not true then?

The truth is that this is not about Mr Ramloll. This is about an advice given by Mr Ramloll, for the Solicitor General on behalf of the Attorney General, the Principal Legal Advisor of Government. It is about a law enforcement agency, ICAC, allegedly making a ‘sinister inference’ that the Attorney General could have given advice to unduly favour anyone.

This is why the Attorney General needed to intervene, especially at a time when certain of our institutions are facing a crisis of credibility.

What the Attorney General did in the end was to backtrack – and we can only hope, without fear or favour.

 

  • Published in print edition on 7 August 2015

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