THE PIARCO AIRPORT CORRUPTION I ACCUSED, 22 YEARS AFTER THEY WERE CHARGED, WILL WALK FREE AFTER THE PRIVY COUNCIL RULED THAT THE COURT OF APPEAL GOT IT WRONG AND THE THEN CHIEF MAGISTRATE SHOULD HAVE STEPPED DOWN FROM HEARING THE CASE.
Earlier today, Monday 27th June, 2022, British Law Lords, in a 26-page ruling, said the decision by now deceased Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicholls, to commit the accused to stand trial at the High Court, was tainted by political bias.
Mc Nicholls had been asked to step down from hearing the case on the grounds of apparent bias but he dismissed that application which was upheld by the Court of Appeal. The Privy Council ruled the Court of Appeal got it wrong.
The Privy Council in its analysis of the case linked the conviction of former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, the move to impeach former Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma, Mc Nicholls’ claims against Sharma and the intervention of then Attorney General Jihn Jeremie.
The Law Lords agreed there was sufficient information in the public domain to support a claim of apparent bias on the part of Mc Nicholls who should have stepped down from hearing the corruption case against the Piarco accused.
The Privy Council held that the local Court of Appeal erred by failing to hold that the test for apparent bias was satisfied and that recusal should have been followed by Mc Nicholls.
Both the application for judicial review and the claim for constitutional relief are granted, the Privy Council held, with the consequence that the Piarco I committal decision of January 7th, 2008, is quashed.
• Former finance minister in both the PNM and UNC administration Brian Kuei Tung.
• Former PNM national security minister and attorney Russell Huggins
• Former Nipdec chairman Edward Bayley
• Maritime executives John Smith, Ferguson and Barbara Gomes
• Ishwar Galbaransingh, chairman of Northern Construction Ltd
• Amrith Maharaj, financial director of Northern Construction Ltd
• Businesswoman Renee Pierre, then Kuei Tung’s companion.
• Smith was murdered in July 2021 and Bayley died after a prolonged illness in 2006.