Millions expended by Coalition to retain private lawyers – Nandlall

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Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall has disclosed that millions of dollars were spent by the APNU/AFC Coalition to retain private lawyers for several legal proceedings including the No Confidence Motion (NCM) and the series of electoral litigations.

During a press conference on Saturday, Nandlall noted that these are not all the retainer contractors, whereby private lawyers were hired by the Attorney General Chambers under the Coalition regime.

Among some of the invoices he disclosed is a US$46.487.02 legal fee bill for Barbadian Queen’s Counsel (QCs) Ralph Thorne and Hal Gallop, who were retained by the APNU/AFC in 2018 to represent the state in the case challenging then President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of retired judge James Patterson as the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman.

Attorney General Anil Nandlall

QC Thorne was paid US$30,920.97 and QC Gallop received US$15,566.05. According to Nandlall, this is just legal fees and does not cover flight and accommodation costs.

Thorne was again retained by the AG Chambers when former Deputy Solicitor-General Prithima Kissoon had filed legal proceedings to recover her salary, which was withheld while she was on administrative leave. The Barbadian Queens Counsel received $4.2M for his retainment.

Meanwhile, the legal challenges to the December 2018 No-Confidence Motion (NCM) had also racked up a hefty bill of legal fees, Nandlall said.

He disclosed that the although the validity of the NCM was initially challenged by private citizen, Compton Reid, the state had foot the legal fees for his lawyers Rex McKay and Neil Boston to the tune of $12M.

Another invoice of US$25,000 was also paid to Grenadian Queen’s Counsel, Dr Francis Alexis, who had also represented the state in the NCM, which had gone to the Court of Appeal as well as the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

Nandlall further disclosed that the law firm of Attorney Mayo Robertson, who was also on the AG’s legal team in the NCM case, was paid $1.9 million and another $600,000 for in that matter. Additionally, another $1M is being sought for representation in another matter.

Meanwhile, Attorney Maxwell Edwards also received $3.8M for the NCM representing the then Attorney General Basil Williams in the NCM case.

Attorney Edwards was also retained again for approximately $4M in the Eslyn David matter that was filed post the March 2 elections seeking to block GECOM from using the figures from the national recount to declare the elections results.

In addition, another $1.7M was expended to retain Attorney Roysdale Forde to represent former Finance Minister Winston Jordan, who had filed a private lawsuit against then Opposition Member Juan Edhgill.

According to Nandlall, this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the private retainer contracts in the Attorney General Chambers.

“These things must be the subject of a special audit to determine whether these payments were properly made… I don’t think that I have been given all the invoices that have been paid but when the Auditor General is invited to conduct a proper forensic audit then we will get to the bottom of it,” he posited.