Young: No legal action taken against Paria enquiry

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Energy Minister Stuart Young –

ENERGY Minister Stuart Young has said no legal action has been taken by either Heritage Petroleum Ltd or Paria Fuel Trading Co Ltd against the Paria Commission of Enquiry (CoE) into last February’s fatal accident at Paria’s Pointe-a-Pierre facility.

Responding to a question in the House of Representatives on Friday from Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee, Young said, “At the outset, let me place on the record that the Government has not managed in any form or fashion how Heritage and Paria are approaching the CoE.”

He added, “No legal action has been taken by either Heritage or Paria with respect to either of the commissioners (chairman Jerome Lynch, KC, or Gregory Wilson) or the commissioners as both (legal action being taken against Lynch and Wilson together) with respect to the CoE.”

Referring to letters sent by attorneys representing these companies to the commission complaining about unfair treatment and alleged bias, Young said, “That is not legal action.”

Young, who is an attorney, added these letters were only questions sent to the commission for a response.

During a virtual news conference on Wednesday, Lynch said the delay in the commission’s completing its final report was not due to either political or company interference in any form or fashion.

“I can state categorically that that is not the case. If there were even a whiff of such an approach, I would make that very public indeed.”

Lynch said the Government, particularly Young, had done all it could to facilitate and expedite the report.

On the letters from Heritage and Paria’s attorneys claiming both companies felt they had been unfairly treated, Lynch said, “I do not deal with the merits of those complaints now, as they have yet to be fully articulated.”

He added, “While I wholeheartedly reject those allegations, I would have thought that if there was to be an application for recusal on the grounds of apparent bias, it is normal in the first instance for that to be made before the tribunal engaged in the process.”

He said there had been no request for the CoE to resume sitting to hear such an application, and no such application has been put before the commission.

Lynch admitted to being friends with Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, but said this had no bearing on his conduct as chairman.

“I fail to see how that can have any effect on my ability to act fairly and impartially in relation to a public enquiry where neither he nor his department are party to the proceedings.

“I have not discussed the matter with him at all, and he has not sought to do so with me.”