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CJ: Allegations against me false

Published: 
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
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Chief Justice Ivor Archie makes his address at the Ceremonial Opening of the 2018/2019 Law Term at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain yesterday. Photo by:ABRAHAM DIAZ

Chief Justice Ivor Archie has broken his silence in relation to misconduct allegations levelled against him, saying they are false and unsubstantiated.

“Over the past ten months it is true that the Judiciary has been faced with the challenge of me being the subject of more than 20 articles making false and unsubstantiated allegations,” Archie said during his speech at the Ceremonial Opening of the 2018/2019 Law Term at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain yesterday.

“It has never been my position that I am not accountable, but all too often rumour and innuendo, when continually regurgitated, miraculously assume the mantle of fact.”

It was the first time that Archie had publicly spoken on the issue since the allegations were raised in a series of newspaper reports in November last year.

While he admitted that he did not take legal action against the author of the reports or their publisher, Archie noted that he may do so in the future.

“All of us in T&T value and need a free and responsible press. For that reason I have thus far been restrained in my legal responses to certain false allegations made in the media, although I do reserve my right at an appropriate time to such recourse as I have as a private citizen,” Archie said.

Referring to his failed lawsuit against the Council of the Law Association over its ongoing investigation into the allegations, Archie noted that the country’s highest appellate court, the Privy Council, ruled that Section 137 of the Constitution was the only method that could be used to remove him from office. (See editorial on Page A18)

“I will continue to discharge my oath and my solemn obligations to the public and I expect and call on other stakeholders to do the same,” the CJ said.

The allegations against Archie have polarised the Judiciary and the legal fraternity, with some of his colleagues breaking tradition to speak out against him. Two senior judges, Justice Frank Seepersad and Justice Carol Gobin, told the T&T Guardian over the weekend that they were boycotting yesterday’s opening ceremony in protest over the CJ’s conduct since the allegations were made.

Yesterday, by the T&T Guardian’s count, about three-quarters of 48 High Court and Appeal Court Judges of the Judiciary, including Archie, were present for yesterday’s ceremony.

In an interview afterwards, Law Association president Douglas Mendes, SC, confirmed that his organisation’s investigation into the allegations against Archie is still ongoing.

“I have no further statements to make until the process is complete. Whatever the outcome of the process, a special general meeting of our members will be called,” Mendes said.

Mendes also admitted that the investigation was not complete when the association called a meeting to discuss it in mid-March. The meeting and the investigation had to be postponed after Archie obtained an injunction against the association, which was subsequently overturned by the Court of Appeal and Privy Council.

“The process wasn’t complete and we are completing it,” Mendes said.

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