Saturday 15 August, 2020

Integrity Commission admits Creary wasn't at Grindley interview

Richard Creary

Richard Creary

The Integrity Commission has been forced to admit that it erred when it said the Mayor of Port Maria, Richard Creary, was present when former Petrojam general manager Floyd Grindley was interviewed for the job.

Creary, a former board member of the scandal-hit Petrojam, had insisted that he was not a part of the panel that interviewed Grindley as was stated in the Commission’s damning report into the activities at the country’s lone oil refinery. The long-awaited report was tabled in the parliament last week and aspects of it were immediately challenged by both Creary and former Energy Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley, both of whom had serious allegations levelled against them in the report.

In the case of Creary, the commission has corrected the error and that was tabled in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The commission, in its report last week, referred to what it called the “strategic placement of certain individuals” on the Petrojam board. The appointees included the former chairman Dr Perceval Bahado-Singh and Creary. Their appointment supposedly led to the appointments of Grindley and subsequently Yolande Ramharrack as the human resource manager.

The senior management team at Petrojam and Wheatley were accused by the commission of “acts of irregularity and/or impropriety, conflict of interest, corruption, nepotism, cronyism, and favouritism”.

Creary had insisted that he was not present when Grindley was interviewed for the job. The commission is now satisfied that Creary had stated that he was unable to attend the meeting.

It is not known what action Creary will take though he argued in a statement released to the media last week that the conclusions reached by the commission were damaging to his reputation.

However, Wheatley has asked for a judicial review of the commission's findings in a bid to restore his reputation.

Wheatley's claim for the judicial review of the commissions’ findings and its report was filed by his legal representative, Chukwuemeka Cameron, on the basis that there were no reasonable grounds for suspecting that he perjured himself. As such the action of referring the matter to the Director of Corruption Prosecution was "irrational and ultra vires," according to a statement by the attorney.

Wheatley, in his claim, argues that where a report calls a person’s reputation into question in a direct way, both that person and the public generally have an interest in ensuring that any criticism is made upon a proper legal basis. It would be contrary to the public interest if the Courts were not prepared to protect the right to reputation in such a context, the release said.

The statement added that Wheatley, by way of an applicant for leave for judicial review, is challenging the lawfulness and fairness of conclusions made by the commission - in particular, the conclusions that he was less than truthful and dishonest in his representation to the Director of Investigation when he described Sophia Deer as his former technical assistant, and his representation that he divested all matters pertaining to donations within his constituency to the late Councillor Palmer was insincere.

Wheatley is asking the court for an order of Mandamus requiring the Director of Investigation to recommend to the Commission to publicly exonerate him of allegations concerning acts of impropriety and nepotism. In addition, his lawyer wants an order quashing the adverse conclusions, recommendations and findings made against the applicant that were not grounded in fact nor law. Wheatley is claiming that the conclusions, recommendations and criticisms made of him in the report are invalid and were not made upon a proper legal basis.

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