Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has urged patience as state authorities investigate former registrar of the High Court Tamara Gibson-Marks, who Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan asked to resign on May 21 during a 30-minute meeting.
Jones-Morgan has also filed an application for Gibson-Marks to show cause why she should not be suspended or barred from practising law in St. Vincent
“That is a very significant development. That process will be managed by the Attorney General and the law courts in the normal way that any of these proceedings are carried out,” Gonsalves told a press conference on Monday.
Gibson-Marks, who was born in St. Lucia, is wife of lawyer Ronald “Ronnie” Marks, a former senator for the Gonsalves-led Unity Labour Party.
Gibson-Marks left St. Vincent for St. Lucia 90 minutes after the meeting with the Attorney General, Gonsalves told the media on Monday.
Sources have said that investigators have found that some EC$300,000 from an account that Gibson-Marks held in trust, is unaccounted for.
Leader of the opposition Arnhim Eustace has written to Gonsalves asking questions about Gibson-Marks’ actions.
Gonsalves noted at the press conference that the Director of Audit, Commissioner of Police, and Attorney General are involved in the investigation of Gibson-Marks.
The Attorney General has told him that she has briefed the office of Director of Public Prosecutions, Gonsalves said.
He, however, said that Eustace asked a lot of specific questions.
“Now, it will be wholly improper for me, even if I have that information, to speak about it. The relevant authorities will address those matters,” he said, adding that the Attorney General has submitted an affidavit in court supporting the application for disbarment, and the acting registrar has done the same.
“Well wait until those matters are being ventilated inside of the court. You will get your answers,” Gonsalves said.
The Attorney General has successfully applied to the court to have her claim against Gibson-Marks sealed, meaning that the public cannot access the documents.
Gonsalves said he has taken a decision not to speak on any fact or alleged facts in the case, “because it may prejudice a fair trial of the proceeding”.
He said he could say that the three offices of the state are involved in the investigation, and are considering appropriate action.
Gonsalves gave further details of the timeline surrounding the resignation of the registrar.
He said the Attorney General and a senior crown counsel met with Gibson-marks from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. on May 21, when the resignation was demanded.
He said Gibson-Marks sent the resignation letter, which was transmitted to the Chief Justice on morning of May 22.
Gonsalves said he can talk about those things because they will not prejudice any proceeding.
He further responded to talks that his government allowed Gibson-Marks to slip away to go to St. Lucia.
Gonsalves said that he knows that
the offices of the Attorney General, the Director of Audit and the Commissioner of Police COP were all contacted that same day to discuss how they are going to proceed.
Gonsalves further said he was told Commissioner of Police Michael Charles contacted the Chief Immigration officer that same day – May 21.
But the police chief has told I-Witness News previously that his office was notified of the development on May 22.
By 2:30 p.m. on May 21 – 90 minutes after Gibson-Marks’ meeting with the Attorney General – she left St. Vincent, Gonsalves said.
“How can you hold the Commissioner of Police or the Chief Immigration Officer or the Attorney General or the Office of the Prime Minister responsible in the circumstances?” Gonsalves said.
Regarding his refusal to give more in-depth information on the investigation, Gonsalves pointed to the recent development in the United Kingdom, where a judge rebuke Prime Minister David Cameron after Cameron’s comments nearly led to the collapse of the remainder of a case against his former spin doctor, Andy Coulson.
“Why is it that the Leader of the Opposition wants to try a case in public? When a person of public importance speaks to an issue that is before the court and on the facts that is before the court, it has the potential to prejudice it.
“If I were to say what the leader of the Opposition wants me to say and to make pronouncements on the guilt or innocence of the former registrar and I make a pronouncement on guilt, which I am not doing or cannot do, when the trial comes a few months hence — if there is a trial — and the lawyer were to make a motion in relation to the inability of a fair trial because a person of public importance, to wit the Prime Minister, had already prejudiced the particular case; what they will then say, ‘Ralph is an experienced lawyer and he ought to have know this and he set it up so to have that particular result’,” Gonsalves said.
“The former registrar of the High Court is entitled to a presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial.” Those are constitutional rights,” Gonsalves further said, adding, “Let the institutions of state do their work.”