Wednesday 25 November, 2020

Reid, Pinnock to learn fate of new bid for judicial review, on Monday

Ruel Reid (left) and Professor Fritz Pinnock

Ruel Reid (left) and Professor Fritz Pinnock

Former Education Minister, Ruel Reid, and President of the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), Professor Fritz Pinnock, are to hear on Monday whether the Full Court will grant leave for a judicial review of their criminal charges.

According to the Civil Division list of the Supreme Court, the Full Court panel comprising Justices David Batts, Chester Stamp and Stephane Jackson-Haisley, will deliver their judgment in the matter after the men's attorney, Hugh Wildman, had presented arguments earlier this month challenging the corruption charges that have been laid against his clients.

The attorney had brought evidence that showed that 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 does 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 following co-ordinated pre-dawn raids across three parishes.

In December last year, Wildman failed in his bid have the criminal charges laid against Reid and Pinnock quashed through a judicial review of the matters for which they are before the courts.

At the time, 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 persons.

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.

Skyes agreed with the lawyers’ submissions that the law did not authorise the FID to arrest and charge anyone, but stated that the FID Act (FIDA) enabled investigators from the FID to gain access to information and use investigative techniques that are not available to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

"The court is of the view that FIDA does not authorise FID to arrest and charge anyone or authorise FIDA to initiate charges and initiate an arrest. What it can do is investigate. When investigating, it can use certain powers under FIDA. FIDA enables FID to gain access to information and use investigative techniques that are not available to the JCF at large," Skyes wrote in his judgment.

Sykes concluded that with regards to the arrests of Pinnock and Reid, "it was not FID that arrested and charged the applicants, but JCF officers in their capacity as JCF officers."

The chief justice was quick to note that there is still the question of whether the JCF officers utilised any power under the FID Act when they were not authorised to do so. He said if this is found to have been so, that might "raise admissibility issues that can be addressed during the criminal trial".

Skyes, in his judgment, said he arrived at his decision on the basis of the absence of evidence that the police officers were authorised officers under the FID Act.

Meanwhile, the criminal matter against Reid, Pinnock and their co-defendants is to be next mentioned in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court on April 8.

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