To date, the Enquiry has been fascinating and compelling TV. It has shown us the nuts and bolts of the extradition process and exposed some of the workings of the Government.
The lawyers and witnesses have uncovered, or tried to keep covered, various matters of importance (principally, who did what when……). That has been compelling viewing too.
Commissioners Anthony Irons, Emil George and Donald Scharschmidt arriving at the Enquiry
The worst moments so far have all involved politicians placing the blame on public servants/civil service employees. This week began in the same vein.
The first witness was Marcia Beverly, a Consultant/Advisor in the Ministry of Justice, who was responsible for the physical receipt and documenting of the extradition request. She confirmed that everything was done as usual by Deputy DPP Jeremy Taylor (the poor relatively junior lawyer who Dodo says is responsible for the “whole debacle”).
Later on in the week the “missing” log book turned up and Lord Gifford was able to show that Jeremy Taylor had given an accurate account of what happened on the day the extradition request was received i.e. everybody except Dodo did their routine tasks routinely…..
Next up was Verna McGaw, one of Dodo’s former secretaries (K.D. Knight put in evidence that Dodo has had more than 20 secretaries since taking office in 2007…..). She testified that Dodo had sent an email to Solicitor-General Douglas Leys and Harold Brady about the extradition request on September 16, 2009. This was the bombshell (or rather, hand grenade) that scattered the remaining splinters of Dodo’s credibility. Dodo’s own testimony had already done the permanent damage to public perception of her intelligence, abilities and her character.
Then Dr. Adolph Edwards, Dodo’s lawyer along with Dr. Lloyd Barnett, had the thankless task of trying to show that McGaw was not a credible witness.
Having done with the ladies, we waited for the main course, the pork and yam of the Commission of Enquiry being the cross-examination of the Prime Minister himself. He it was who hired Manatt, he it was who set up the Enquiry.
As K.D. Knight began his cross-examination it became clear that the Enquiry had fully descended into the realm of Jamaican party politics. The Prime Minister came there to lie and defend his activities on behalf of Christopher “Dudus” Coke and the JLP.
Prime Minister of Jamaica Bruce Golding
Hugh Small, the Prime Minister’s lawyer, was there to make sure that any attempt to expose the lies of the Prime Minister would be met with cries (or whines) of disrespect. K.D. Knight, the lawyer for the PNP, was there to remind us that the Prime Minister was lying about the whole Dudus extradition matter and the hiring of the U.S. law firm, Manatt, Phelps and Phillips.
Turns out we didn’t need reminding because the Prime Minster came to the Enquiry to assert the following impossible-to-choke-down-lies:
He did NOT hire, on September 6, 2009 (16 days after the request for extradition had been received) the U.S. law firm, Manatt, Phelps and Phillips to lobby the U.S. Government to delay (or prevent) the extradition of his West Kingston constituent, Christopher “Dudus” Coke. More likely ? He DID hire MPP to ensure that Christopher “Dudus” Coke would still be around to deliver votes for the JLP in the 2012 election (or that Christopher “Dudus” Coke had time to leave the island for Venezuela or other unextraditable points south)
Manatt was hired because (16 days after the request for extradition had been received) the Prime Minister already knew that Coke’s constitutional rights had been violated and was determined to start high level negotiations to prevent the violation of Coke’s constitutional rights. More probable ? He knew that thwarting the combined efforts of the Jamaican security forces and the U.S. DEA would require money and high level contacts
Manatt was hired because (16 days after the request for extradition had been received) the Prime Minister had already been advised by “two foreign diplomats” that there was no point in trying to deal with the U.S. Embassy in Kingston. More likely? The U.S. charge d’affaires Isaiah Parnell had already made it clear to Dodo that the U.S. wasn’t going to listen to any crap
Nobody in the Jamaican justice system (Lightbourne, Leys) who was handling the extradition request was privy to the Prime Minister’s efforts to use Manatt to protect Christopher “Dudus” Coke’s constitutional rights. More likely ? The Prime Minister, Dodo and Harold Brady cooked up the whole fiasco circa August 2009 as soon as they knew for sure about the extradition request
In any case, the testimony of Dodo, Douglas Leys, and various civil servants, have already confirmed what most Jamaicans already suspected:-
As conspiracies go, this one was large, employed all sorts of numbskulls (Brady, Robinson, Lightbourne, Leys et al) and was spectacularly unsuccessful (73 dead plus Mr. Coke extraditing himself…).
To my mind, the only fig leaf left to cover the Prime Minister’s incompetence and denial in the Dudus’ affair is that his predecessor as leader of the JLP, Edward Seaga, had great success in the 1980’s in protecting Christopher Coke’s father, Lester Lloyd Coke aka Jim Brown, from the wrath of the U.S. authorities. Mr. Coke Sr. bounced around between Jamaica and the U.S. with the apparent full knowledge of both the U.S. and Jamaican governments. One minute he was in jail in the U.S., the next minute he was in Kingston being released by the Jamaican Supreme Court into the arms of gun saluting supporters.
So, possibly, Bruce Golding thought that the same could be done for his son. As Ian Boyne pointed out, perhaps the Prime Minister “doesn’t recall” that the Soviet Union collapsed more than 20 years ago and “the war on drugs” and “the war on terror” have long since replaced anti-Communism as the main planks of U.S. foreign policy.
Jamaica is of zero strategic importance today – Castro’s Cuba notwithstanding – and only of concern inasmuch as it is a transhipment point for drugs into the United States. Even cunning old Eddie Seaga would get short shrift from the U.S. authorities nowadays.
Poor old K.D. Knight, poor old Hugh Small
K.D. Knight representing the PNP
For the past couple of weeks K.D. Knight has looked worn and weary, as first Dodo, and now the Prime Minister have tried his temper and his patience. For his part, Hugh Small has become progressively more whiny and fixated on “the people watching this Enquiry all over the world”…… Both gentlemen are showing their age (70+).
Hugh Small representing the Prime Minister
Only Frank Phipps, who was as old as the hills when he came to the Enquiry, is not much the worse for wear after weeks of testimony and cross-examination.
Frank Phipps representing the JLP
With the Prime Minister on the witness stand, much of the interest has gone out of the proceedings. Hugh Small has successfully prevented K.D. Knight from tripping up the Prime Minister, but it is not as if the Prime Minister is going to say anything new. When he contradicts himself or Dodo he just, like Dodo, continues to assert his truthfulness and love of Christopher Coke’s constitutional rights. Truth and facts be damned, disregarded, dissed, skated over…
Naturally, the Prime Minister is a much better liar than Dodo and the bigger the lie, the more angrily he defends it.
From time to time, the Prime Minister attempts to joust with K.D. by scoring points or making smart replies. This sometimes works and the JLP supporters in the room reward him with laughter, but most times the PM’s timing is off and his jokes fly right over the heads of his supporters, hit the wall and fall flat on the floor…..
Poor old Jamaica
Well, this Enquiry is almost over. It has introduced most of us to the workings of a small part of the government and our judicial system. It has delighted us with the skills of K.D. Knight, John Vassall, Lord Gifford, Frank Phipps and the other distinguished lawyers. It has reminded us (if we needed it) of the high quality of many of our public servants (hats off to the DPP’s office, the JDF and JCF) and of the dismal quality of many of our politicians (take a bow Bruce, Dodo, Dwight, Ronald).
If only we could look forward to flinging these rascals out at the next election….If only we didn’t have Bobby Pickersgill, A.J. Nicholson and Omar Davies sitting behind K.D. Knight day after day to remind us that they, the in-power-far-too-long-PNP, are our only alternative……
Grand finale next week: More from the Prime Minister on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
Terms of Reference for the Enquiry
The Governor-General has today been advised to appoint a Commission of Enquiry to enquire into and report on the issues relating to the extradition request for Christopher Coke by the Government of the United States of America, the manner and procedure in which the said extradition request was handled by the Government of Jamaica, the circumstances in which the law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips was retained and its role in relation to the said extradition request and the role and conduct of various public officials and private persons and organizations in relation to any or all of the aforesaid matters.
The specific Terms of Reference of the Commission are:
To enquire into:
The issues relating to the extradition request for Christopher Coke by the Government of the United States of America;
The manner and procedure in which the said extradition request was handled by the Government of Jamaica and the role and conduct of the various public officials who handled the extradition request;
The circumstances in which the services of the law firm Manatt Phelps & Phillips were engaged in relation to any or all of the matters involved, by whom were they engaged and on whose behalf they were authorized to act;
Whether there was any misconduct on the part of any person in any of these matters and, if so, to make recommendations as the Commission sees fit for the referral of such persons to the relevant authority or disciplinary body for appropriate action.
The Commissioner shall make a full and faithful report and recommendations concerning the aforesaid matters and transmit the same to the Governor-General on or before February 28, 2011.
The Commission shall be comprised of:
Hon. Emil George Q.C., O.J. (Chairman) (Attorney-at-Law)
Hon. Anthony Irons O.J. (Retired Permanent Secretary)
Mr. Donald Scharschmidt Q.C (Attorney-at-Law)