GECOM Chair: Questions raised over whether Patterson was Chief Justice of Grenada

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Checks made by Opposition yet to substantiate this claim- Jagdeo 

Many questions still abound over the appointment of retired Justice James Patterson to the helm of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), including ‘Did he lie on his Curriculum Vitae (CV)?’ Another proffered question is whether the President acted callously since the timelines presented to the nation do not add up.

President David Granger as he swears in Retired Justice James Patterson to the post of GECOM Chairman last Thursday night

Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo on Wednesday raised the queries and pointed out that on the CV provided for the post of GECOM Chairman, it was pointed out that in 1987, Patterson had served as the Chief Justice (CJ) of Grenada.

Jagdeo told media operatives that based on checks made by the Party, it is yet to substantiate this.

The Opposition Leader was handed a copy of Justice Patterson’s CV by President David Granger ahead of his appointment on Thursday last.

He has since told media operatives the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) now harboured apprehension over “serious concerns raised about whether Justice Patterson was ever the Chief Justice in Grenada”.

The PPP General Secretary and Opposition Leader informed media operatives he has been in receipt of numerous communications with respect to whether the GECOM Chairman served as the Grenadian Chief Justice.

Cursory Internet searches by this publication indicate that in 1986 the post was held by Dennis Byron (acting), who was succeeded by Sir Samuel Horatio Graham the following year.

“We are going to dig into it a bit more; we are going to try to confirm this, because that is on his CV that I have received,” Jagdeo said.

The Opposition Leader reported that information coming out of the Caribbean island from persons including lawyers that worked there during that time indicate that “they don’t know about this”.

He suggested to media operatives that if it was that Justice Patterson did in fact make a dishonest claim in his CV and “put something on his CV that is not true”, it would immediately disqualify “him from acting impartially and with integrity at GECOM”.

Jagdeo suggested that should this be the case, it was reason enough for him to be removed from the helm of GECOM, since the President’s determination that he was ‘fit and proper’ was, among other things, based on his CV.

“That was an influencing factor…that alone should make the President want to dismiss him if that is true.”

The Opposition Leader was adamant if this was not the case and the CV prepared elsewhere, “it meant that the President himself doctored the CV that was given to me, so either way something is wrong with this if proven true”.

Partisan

Jagdeo told media operatives that there was information in the public domain to vitiate claims that Justice Patterson was in fact partisan given his association with the People’s National Congress (PNC).

Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

The Opposition Leader in speaking to Patterson’s close ties to the PNC pointed to his treatment at the funeral of the late President Desmond Hoyte.

Jagdeo reminded that Justice Patterson at the time of Hoyte’s death and funeral had been part of the inner enclave.

“At a private ceremony made up only of PNC members, if you look at the pall bearers there, a private ceremony he was there,” Jagdeo said.

He also drew reference to a social media profile bearing retired Justice Patterson’s image and information, which shares ties with PNC rally groups.

“His impartiality is yet to be proven, but from all we see he is partial and he is pro-PNC,” according to the Opposition Leader.

Jagdeo was also adamant “we have grave concerns about his impartiality and about the truthfulness about the qualification”, based on emerging information.

Speaking to the questionable timelines presented by President Granger, the Opposition Leader pointed out that while it took weeks at a time for the President to consider his nominees – submitted in batches of sixes – retired Justice James Patterson was identified, considered and found to be fit and proper within a matter of hours.

Jagdeo as required by the Constitution, was obligated to submit six nominees for the President’s consideration and the President had requested the CVs of the persons nominated.

The Opposition Leader told media operatives “weeks after having the CVs for people when asked by the media what’s going on, he said ‘I am still studying the CVs.”

Jagdeo juxtaposed this with the comments made by Justice Patterson following his swearing-in on Thursday last.

Patterson had at the time told media operatives that he had only been asked earlier in the evening (Thursday) to serve as the GECOM Chair, and indicated “I was never approached prior to tonight.”

Expanding on revelations over the selection of the GECOM Chairman, Jagdeo told members of the media he received a copy of Justice Patterson’s CV at 18:00h that evening when he met with the President which meant he had received it shortly before.

“So he had the CV maybe a couple of hours maximum, because Patterson said ‘I was only asked tonight’…so in two hours he had a CV and he discovered that this person is suitable.”
Justice Patterson, he observed, was sworn in immediately after submitting a CV while the President spent weeks at a time considering the CVs belonging to the 18 nominees.
“This smacks of someone lying; it smacks of a plot,” Jagdeo surmised.

The Opposition Leader posited that despite the pronouncements of the President, he was unsure that Justice Patterson was “acceptable to the Guyanese public as a whole; in fact, most people think he is not”.

Jagdeo suggested: “It’s either Mr Patterson is not being truthful that he was asked long before or the President callously just decided.”

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