…AG responds by saying Kissoon is attempting to cloud facts
Deputy Solicitor General Prithima Kissoon has accused the Attorney General Basil Williams, SC, of setting up stumbling blocks in place aimed at restraining her from executing her functions and of going to extremes to frustrate her to demit office.
Kissoon filed a complaint against the Attorney General to the Public Service Commission (PSC) after his most recent action of banning her from presiding over all court matters involving the AG Chambers.
Detailing her abuse from the beginning, Kissoon said Williams would not approve, correct or alter any draft pleadings presented to him prior to court hearings despite those documents being sent to him via email or being given to his Confidential Secretary, Demi Hipplewith, Andrea Marks and other assistants he has retained over the past year.
“Even though reminded regularly this is not done or is done so belatedly and at the ninth hour that I have been embarrassed before the courts or had to resort to my legal acumen to ensure that the State is properly represented. On occasions when legal matters do arise in court, in which I appear in the majority of cases, although the Attorney General, in writing, undertakes to the court to appear and conduct the matters he does not do so or his appearance is merely cursory,” she outlined.
Kissoon highlighted that on numerous occasions the Attorney General requested adjournments for matters and despite the honourable courts adjourning matters to accommodate the AG, he has continued not to give instructions or examine documents she prepared before they were filed or presented to the Court.
She further claimed that the AG instructed his assistants to refuse to accept any documents or correspondence delivered by her and as a result, she would have to resort to “registering or express mailing him correspondence and “at all times, emailing him and carbon copying relevant recipients”.
The Deputy Solicitor General observed that the concatenation of the aforesaid events were then revealed in the State newspaper where the AG accused her and the acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Carl Singh of conspiracy in the race baiting case against former President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo.
In fact, Kissoon disclosed that the AG was reluctant to file an Affidavit in Answer as required in the matter.
“This was not done even though I diligently prepared a draft Affidavit and presented same to him; he did not see it fit to peruse or discuss or give me instructions on same. I have records to show my notification and reminders to him,” she stated.
She outlined that while this step, that is to have the Affidavit in Answer filed, was not taken to satisfy the procedure of the court, the court continued to fix a date for the hearing of the matter.
“Adjourned dates are continued to be given in which I have to appear and I am duty-bound to the court who enquire about my course of action. In the Attorney General v Bharrat Jagdeo, I sought to make oral submissions which were put in writing and sent to the court as well as copied to the AG. I was sick between the 5th January 2017 to the 21st January 2017, for which I submitted medical reports and case lists on his request for all matters that would be heard in my absence; all the cases are matters concerning the Attorney General of which the Chambers of the Attorney General has custody,” she stated.
Kissoon highlighted that the AG appeared in court whilst she was on sick leave and applied to the court for leave to file further submissions, which he did not do.
“On the date of the ruling, he did not appear in court but sent Miss Stuart, my subordinate, for the first time to take the decision which was duly made by the court dismissing the appeal as the wrong party was the Appellant and not Miss Artiga. Here I must emphasise that the appeal in this matter was prepared and approved by the Solicitor General, now resigned. I sought to remedy the mistake,” she stated.
Kissoon was adamant that this matter caused the AG to abuse her, to “vilify and libel me in the press”.
The Deputy Solicitor General further highlighted that she resumed duties on January 23, 2017, with the intention of reporting directly to the AG.
However, she said she discovered that he was at a meeting and, therefore, went to her office and cleared it of accumulated documents.
Kissoon added that a memo was directed to her to cease conduct of all court matters involving the AG Chambers until further notice.
“On the 24th Jan, 2017, in pursuance of AG further humiliating me and seeking to find a reason lawful or unlawful to oust me from my post, he sent members of his admin staff to record from my office all the cases that are contained therein, whatsoever – that means I don’t know – for I deal only in court cases, for which all pleadings and documents are a matter of public record, having been filed. This course of action employed by him during the last year has been recorded in various memos sent to me by him, with replies,” Kissoon outlined.
In desperately seeking intervention, the Deputy Solicitor General told the PSC: “I always hold the belief that the Public Service is a neutral entity that employs Guyanese regardless of their heritage or ethnicity so long as such persons are qualified in the opinion of the PSC. To the best of my knowledge and belief I have fractured none of the Public Service Rules since I joined the service in 2007.”
She posited that in the prevailing circumstances, the AG has ensured that “I am prohibited and restrained from performing my functions”.
“Commissioners, I respectfully wish to inform you that the course of conduct administered unlawfully by the AG personally upon me is reprehensible, unbearable and malicious, initiated and executed by the AG, Basil Williams, SC, so that I leave the office which I consider through the opinion of my lawyers as CONSTRUCTIVE DISMISSAL,” she stated.
The Deputy Solicitor General also applied to proceed on her deferred leave from since 2016 which was denied by the AG, while she awaits directions from the PSC. She is also requesting permission to leave the country.
The complaint was copied to the Minister of State, Joseph Harmon.
CLOUDING THE FACTS
Meanwhile, the Attorney General late Sunday evening responded, stating that Government could no longer sustain Kissoon’s unrelenting undermining of its cases. He said having been employed by former Attorney General Anil Nandlall under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) regime and paid over one million dollars and other benefits per month, Kissoon has been openly supportive of Nandlall and the PPP/C even when seated on Government’s bench.
He further stated that in every case involving now Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and the PPP/C’s surrogates, where the former Attorney General is the opposing counsel, in which Kissoon appears for the AG Chambers, glaring errors have been made.
He said in cases where President David Granger, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and the Attorney General were sued, Kissoon deliberately disobeyed the instructions of the Attorney General and Solicitor General with regard to challenging the applications on lack of jurisdiction, thereby causing the matters to be protracted, effectively aiding Nandlall in saving face.
“Last week, prior to my departure from Guyana for a Council of Legal Education meeting in Jamaica, I instructed the Permanent Secretary of the Attorney General Chambers/Ministry of Legal Affairs to inform the Public Service Commission of the Chambers’ intention to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Ms Kissoon, and further, to enquire of the PSC’s procedures pertaining to same,” Williams said
According to Williams, the Deputy Solicitor General is attempting to cloud the facts of a situation, where there are numerous memoranda issued to her for numerous infractions.