Questions have been raised over a decision taken by the council of the Chaguanas Borough Corporation to retain a law firm, which represented Chaguanas Mayor Faaiq Mohammed in a private defamation case several years ago.
Guardian Media obtained documents in which attorney Richard Jaggasar, who represented a corporation worker in the case in which Freedom Law Chambers and its head Anand Ramlogan, SC, were appointed by the corporation, requested information on the retainer under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
In the letter sent in November, last year, Jaggasar quoted the judgement in a landmark case over the disclosure of information on the names of attorneys retained and the State funds and the payments they received.
“There is no privilege in the name or the fees paid with public funds,” Jaggasar said, as he quoted Appellate Judge Ronnie Boodoosingh.
In response, the corporation revealed that the chambers was placed on its general list of approved external attorneys on October 26, last year. It later confirmed that Mohammed had read the note to include the chambers, which was eventually passed by a majority vote.
Edinburgh/Longdenville Councillor Janelle Joe-Ryan and Alderman Stacey Mc Sween abstained.
Contacted yesterday, Mc Sween confirmed that her and Joe-Ryan’s decision was based on the fact that the council’s approval was being sought after the firm had already been retained for the case.
Contacted for comment, Mohammed denied any wrongdoing as he noted that he only hired Ramlogan and his firm several years ago to represent him in a defamation case against former Independent Liberal Party (ILP) chairman Jack Warner.
Mohammed won the case in the High Court and on appeal to the Court of Appeal, which increased his compensation from $220,000 to over $650,000.
Mohammed noted that Ramlogan and his firm was selected to defend the corporation in the case brought by Jaggasar’s client because of their expertise and reputation in handling judicial review cases. He noted that there were many other attorneys and law firms utilised by the corporation for other legal matters.
He also noted that Ramlogan and his firm won the case at a preliminary stage and without the need for a costly trial.
“It is clear that this is just a case of sour grapes and mischief by the losing party,” Mohammed said.