Ex-judge Stanley John to probe ‘missing file’ at AG’s office

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Retired judge Stanley John –

RETIRED Appeal Court judge Stanley John will lead investigations that led to the débâcle resulting in a court awarding $20 million to nine men once accused of killing businesswoman Vindra Naipaul-Coolman.

The Office of the Attorney General made the announcement in a release on Friday.

It said John accepted the appointment to probe the missing file of the malicious prosecution claim and the decision of Master Martha Alexander on Monday as well as “interrogate the systemic process in existence. John is expected to make recommendations for improvement to the departments that fall under the Office of the Attorney General of the Solicitor General and Chief State Solicitor and offer advice on the management of civil proceedings in the name of the Attorney General.

John recently conducted an audit on the granting of firearm users’ licences in the police service for the Bliss Seepersad-led Police Service Commission (PSC) on the advice of the National Security Council chaired by the Prime Minister.

John his former colleague, Rolston Nelson, SC, a former judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice, was also appointed to advise the State on its next move as it relates to the civil claim against the State which remained undefended until challenged at the assessment stage.

On Thursday the AG’s Office said Nelson was to advise “on issues relevant to the missing file and the provenance of the decision” of Master Martha Alexander on Monday.

The statement added that “Attorney General Armour remains consistent with his commitment to ensuring the urgent investigation and keeping the public updated on the progress of this matter.”

In addition to launching the investigation, Armour said he will be seeking legal advice on whether the State can appeal the default judgement and subsequent assessment of damages.

After the State failed to defend a malicious prosecution lawsuit (which Armour blamed on the disappearance of the case file), the nine men who sued after being acquitted of the charge of murdering Naipaul-Coolman, were collectively awarded over $20m in compensation.

He said in 2018, former AG Faris Al-Rawi established the Attorney General’s Secretariat to co-ordinate the civil law units in the ministry as it related to claims that required instructions from the AG at every stage of the judicial process. He said failing to adhere to the procedure set up to manage litigation against the State could result in disciplinary action.

He said in relation to the malicious prosecution claim filed by Naipaul-Coolman’s ex-accused, the AG’s secretariat did not receive the file.