Jamaica Observer / THE application by lawyers representing former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and other People’s National Party (PNP) officials, who are seeking leave from the Court of Appeal to take the Trafigura case to the Privy Council, was yesterday postponed for today. The hearing, which was initially scheduled for Monday but was postponed, was yesterday further rescheduled due to the absence of one the Court of Appeal judges.
Last year, the Court of Appeal dismissed the group’s appeal against a Supreme Court ruling that Simpson Miller, Phillip Paulwell, Robert Pickersgill, Colin Campbell and Norton Hinds must testify in open court about the J$31-million donation by Trafigura Baheer to the PNP in 2006.
The Dutch authorities want to question the former prime minister and PNP president and the senior PNP members but they have challenged the ruling to give statements in public.
Simpson Miller and the other officials fought to challenge Justice Campbell’s ruling in 2011 that they be questioned in open court after the director of public prosecution tried unsuccessfully to question them in private.
Defence lawyers for the five had argued that the judge had erred in his ruling and that his ruling was flawed. They also argued that the individuals cannot be compelled to cooperate with requesting foreign states, that the treaties have to be subjected to Jamaican laws, that they already indicated that they do not know anything about the alleged bribery in respect to Trafigura, and cannot help the Dutch authorities any further.
But the Court of Appeal, in dismissing the appeal, ruled that the proceedings brought under the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matter Act are subject to the principles of open justice as mentioned in Section 16 (3) of the Constitution and that the ruling of Justice Campbell that these proceedings should be conducted in open court is correct in law and “does not warrant this (Appeal) Court’s interference”.
Under Dutch law it’s illegal for companies to donate to political parties. At the time of the donation, Trafigura had an oil-lifting contract with the then PNP Administration.
In 2006, the Trafigura scandal resulted in the resignation of Colin Campbell as information minister.
— Tanesha Mundle
In the meantime, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has filed documents opposing the application for the matter to be taken to the United Kingdom-based Privy Council, Jamaica’s highest court.