JP, State must file evidence opposing Adrian Scoon’s challenge to warrants

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Adrian Scoon –

A HIGH COURT judge has ordered evidence to be filed opposing a challenge by businessman Adrian Scoon, who has received a judge’s permission to challenge the validity of search warrants authorised by a justice of the peace. The warrans were issued to the police for part of their investigation of a Boxing Day event on his Ocean Pelican vessel.

Scoon has since been charged for alleged breaches of the public health regulations and is expected to appear in court later this month to answer the charges, after being served with a summons in February.

In January, Justice Ricky Rahim granted Scoon leave to file his judicial review application against JP Oliver Boodhu, who signed off on the search warrants police used to search Scoon’s Maraval apartment and his office at Queen’s Park West, Port of Spain, earlier that month.

The police were in search of evidence that Scoon or his company allegedly breached public health regulations by operating a party boat, contrary to regulation 4 of the public health regulations; held a public party contrary to the regulations; and had a gathering in a public place contrary to regulation 3.

The officer in charge of the investigations, Insp Clifton Ramjattan, also sought a special warrant under the Interception of Communications Act to compel Scoon to give the police access to a cellphone and laptop taken during the searches, or information relating to the promotion of the December 26, 2021 Seaside brunch event on the Ocean Pelican.

This was eventually denied by Justice Geoffrey Henderson, who held what the police were asking for was excessive and disproportionate.

At Monday’s hearing before Rahim, the JP was again a no-show in court, He has failed to appear since the matter was filed in January, despite being served with the proceedings.

And, although the State, through the Solicitor General’s department, was served with the court’s order granting leave, it was not served with notification of Monday’s hearing, so the defence did not appear.

Rahim ordered both the JP and the State to be served again and gave directions for them to file affidavits in opposition to Scoon’s judicial review claim.

Written submissions are also expected to be made, after which the judge will give his decision.

On January 5, police searched Scoon’s home and offices as part of their investigation of the brunch event, when some 100 people were detained on the craft, which Scoon claimed had been converted into “a floating restaurant.”

Those detained after the event were released. During the search, police seized Scoon’s cellphone, laptop and other electronic devices and also sought the special warrant after he refused to give them the passwords and other data.

The searches came after the special restaurant licences issued to him for the Ocean Pelican were reportedly revoked by the comptroller of the Customs and Excise Division when Finance Minister Colm Imbert revealed he had raised concerns over granting them because of pandemic restrictions.

Scoon has insisted he had permission to operate the vessel as a floating restaurant and complied with safe-zone protocols.

He is represented by attorneys Kiel Taklalsingh and Stefan Ramkissoon.