CYDEC Conference 2019

Ritch report saga continues, Liebaers appeals CJ ruling

Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin faces a new legal battle over the Ritch immigration report as acting Information Commissioner Jan Liebaers serves notice that he’s appealing Chief Justice Anthony Smellie’s decision to certify the report as legal privilege.
He says it was not an easy decision to make, but it’s a necessary step.
The Ritch Immigration report dispute between Mr Liebaers and the Office of the Premier is heading to court once again.

“They are taking this quite seriously and I do not think they will just give up the record right now, however that could stop this entire process,” Mr Liebaers said.
That process seeking the intervention of the Appeal Court a first for the ICO.

“It is new ground and so we are not entirely sure what the mechanism is going to look like,” he said.

Mr Liebaers is challenging the CJ’s decision to deny access to the Ritch report. The ICO needs to see to rule on two FOI requests seeking it’s disclosure, but more than that he says Mr Smellie’s ruling raises questions on legal privilege.

“We asked the Chief Justice if we could make representations to him and of course the Premier’s Office could do the same, but he was not amendable to that,” Mr Liebaers added.

With Mr Smellie’s position made clear Mr Liebaers said he was left with no other alternative than the Appeal Court. He adds the timing of the appeal has nothing to do with looming elections.

“This is not targeted at anyone in particular or any particular perhaps vulnerable time or whatever, in terms of the elections,” the Commissioner Liebaers said.

He says it’s unlikely the appeal will even be heard before May 24th. The acting Information Commissioner says he’s hopeful the Appeal Court will provide clarity on the issue he can fulfill his mandate.
The Ritch Immigration report was requested by Premier McLaughlin to review the permanent residency system after a damning ruling from the Chief Justice.
The Premier has refused to release the report going so far as to issue a certificate registering it as legal privilege.
We reached out to the Premier’s Office for comment in the new legal maneuver by the ICO, but no response was received.

About the author

Reshma Ragoonath

Reshma Ragoonath

Reshma Ragoonath is a Trinidadian journalist with 18 years media experience with a strong background in print with her most recent stint at The Cayman Reporter. She has a BA in Mass Communications, as well as, an Associate degree in Journalism and Public Relations.

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