Wednesday 25 November, 2020

Appeal court to rule in April on Reid/Pinnock judicial review request

Ruel Reid (left) abnd co-accused Fritz Pinnock

Ruel Reid (left) abnd co-accused Fritz Pinnock

The Court of Appeal is to rule on April 3 whether to grant former Education Minister, Ruel Reid, and President of the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), Professor Fritz Pinnock leave to appeal a ruling by the Supreme Court earlier this month.

The Full Court of the Supreme Court on Monday, March 2, had denied an application to grant leave for a review of the criminal charges against both men.

The Full Court panel - comprising Justices David Batts, Chester Stamp and Stephane Jackson-Haisley - also refused an application by the men's attorney, Hugh Wildman, to appeal its decision.

In addition to presenting arguments to support the Supreme Court's decision to be overturned by the Appeal Court on Thursday, attorneys for the accused men applied for a stay of the criminal case against them in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court. That case against them and their co-defendants is to be mentioned in that court on April 8.

At the end of submissions by the accused men's attorneys, the Court of Appeal reserved judgment for its decision until April 3.

During the Supreme Court hearing of the matter in February, this year, Wildman had presented arguments, which challenged the corruption charges laid against his clients. 

The attorney had brought evidence that showed the police officers who charged his clients were authorised officers of the Financial Investigations Division (FID). This action, he argued, was unlawful as the FID did not have the authority to charge anyone. 

Attorneys for the FID had countered those arguments, and contended that the men were not arrested or charged by the FID. 

Reid, his wife Sharen and their daughter, Sharelle, along with Pinnock and Brown’s Town Division Councillor, Kim Brown-Lawrence, are facing a number of criminal charges following a corruption probe in relation to the Education Ministry and the CMU.

Reid and Pinnock are facing the bulk of the charges. They are charged with breaches of the Corruption Prevention Act, conspiracy to defraud, misconduct in a public office at common law and beaches of the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Sharen Reid and her daughter, as well as Brown-Lawrence, are all charged with possession of criminal property and conspiracy to defraud.

The five were granted bail when they first appeared in court on October 10 last year, one day after they were arrested and charged in coordinated pre-dawn raids across three parishes.

To date, Wildman has failed twice in his bid to have the criminal charges laid against Reid and Pinnock quashed through a judicial review of the matters for which they are before the courts.

In December, last year, Wildman, along with attorneys Lois Pinnock and Faith Gordon, had argued that the FID did not have the authority to bring charges against Reid and Pinnock.

They submitted that the FID is an investigative body, and investigators there were not empowered under the FID Act to arrest and charge the men.

However, in his 31-page judgment, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes said the attorneys had failed to convince him or present evidence as to why the matter should go before the Judicial Review Court.

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