Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis has expressed pride in the election of retired Justice of Appeal Paula-Mae Weekes as this country’s first female president.
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Lawyer: Police service failed to institute threat assessment
A lawyer for Dillian Johnson, the man at the centre of controversy involving embattled Chief Justice Ivor Archie, has claimed that he has received political asylum from the United Kingdom (UK).
Attorney Thalia Francis-Brooks made the announcement during a press conference called by her at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port-of-Spain yesterday afternoon.
She said: “I simply want to update you that Mr Johnson has in fact sought asylum in the UK where he had his request approved and now he is in a protected environment.”
Francis-Brooks refused to comment when asked if she was provided with official documents from the UK Government over her client’s immigration status.
Questioned as to whether the claimed approval meant that the UK felt that his claims over his safety were valid, Francis-Brooks said: “I cannot speak to their policy or what they do across there, but what I can say for a fact is that he was granted asylum.
If I was to base my answer on the fact that he was granted asylum I could say yes, there was some credible threat to his life.”
Francis-Brooks sought to blame the slow pace of the T&T Police Service investigation into his shooting at his Gasparillo home on December 2, as the reason for his decision to flee to the UK. Johnson was reportedly shot in his left hand.
“Whilst I have a duty not to expose any information which would breach client confidentiality, what I can say to you that Mr Johnson felt compelled to flee from T&T for fear of his personal safety and ultimately to avoid becoming another murder statistic,” she said.
She went on: “As far as Mr Johnson was concerned, the TTPS failed in its duty to act promptly in this matter. It also failed to institute any threat assessment or to provide him with any form of security.”
Francis-Brooks revealed that Johnson had made two reports to police between December 9 and 14-one to the Barataria Police Station and the other to the Anti-Corruption Investigations Bureau (ACIB). He allegedly provided statements, in which he detailed the threat to his life.
“In those statements, he made it clear that his life was in fact threatened. Whether those threats are real or they are perceived, the fact is that he saw certain text messages on his phone and those messages convinced him that there was a serious threat to his personal safety,” Francis-Brooks said as she suggested that the TTPS review its threat assessment policy for citizens.
Asked if the TTPS was able to contact Johnson in the UK to follow up on their investigations, Francis-Brooks said she could not say.
She also said she did not consider reporting her criticism of the TTPS to the Police Complaints Authority (PCA).
Francis-Brooks also refused to comment on a series of photographs which were allegedly released on social media by him.
“My focus is the security and well being of my client. The issue of photographs and the images in those photographs, I am unable to speak to that,” she said.
She also sought to evade questions over his alleged friendship with Archie.
“The relationship between my client and I is of a professional nature. His relationship with any other person I can not speak to that,” she said.
ALLEGATIONS AGAINST ARCHIE
The controversy surrounding Johnson arose almost two months ago in a series of newspaper reports which accused Archie of attempting to persuade the judges to change their State-provided security in favour of a private company in which Johnson worked.
Archie was also accused of attempting to fast track Housing Development Corporation (HDC) applications for Johnson, who has been convicted of fraud.
In a brief statement issued last month, which is Archie’s only to date, he denied discussing judges’ security but admitted suggesting persons for HDC housing.
In November last year, the Council of the Law Association called on Archie to respond to the allegation that he discussed the judges’ meeting with Johnson. However, it stated that the other allegations in the reports were unsubstantiated.
The association’s council has since appointed a sub-committee to investigate the allegations and has sought the legal advice of two eminent Senior Counsel from Belize and Grenada to determine if the allegations are sufficient to trigger impeachment proceedings under the Constitution.
The association has also given Archie time to respond before it takes the issue to its members.
Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young has said the Government was observing the situation but would and could not intervene.
Further allegations have since been published of Archie’s alleged association with another convicted fraudster but these have been refuted.
Several of Archie’s judicial colleagues have called upon him to address the allegations publicly.