ATTORNEY General Reginald Armour, SC, has expressed humility and gratitude to his colleagues in the legal fraternity after the majority of them voted against motions brought against him – one of no-confidence and another for him to resign – on Friday.
The motions were filed by a group of 40 attorneys led by attorney Kiel Taklalsingh, over Armour’s disqualification from the Piarco Airport civil asset recovery case in a Miami court over an apparent conflict of interest.
Armour was a defence attorney for former government minister Brian Kuei Tung in the local courts and after being sworn in as AG on March 16, he later participated in a lawsuit filed by the State against Kuei Tung.
He failed to disclose the full extent of his representation of Kuei Tung in a sworn affidavit filed in Miami after his former client filed a motion to strike out the 18-year-old lawsuit and disqualify both Armour and Sequor Law, the US law firm representing the State of TT.
On May 2, a US judge disqualified both Armour and Sequor Law but rejected the motion to strike out the lawsuit which seeks to recover US$120 million from people accused of corruption in the over 22-year-old Piarco case. The US law firm has challenged the judge’s ruling and former attorney general Faris Al-Rawi has replaced Armour as this country’s client representative in the Miami case.
Of the approximately 3,040 eligible lawyers who were entitled to vote, 551 members exercised their right to cast a vote at a special general meeting of the membership of the Law Association at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port of Spain, on Armour’s inability to represent this country in the fraud matter.
A total of 317 voted against the no-confidence motion while 234 voted in its favour.
On the second motion for him to resign, 241 voted for and 310 against. Voting was done both physically and virtually.
Armour made a virtual appearance at the meeting, re-emphasising that he made an error in his affidavit in recalling of his full involvement as a defence attorney. He maintained that he did not act dishonestly or set out to wilfully deceive the US court.
After the vote was defeated on Friday night, Armour, a former president of the Law Association, in a brief statement said:. “I am humbled by the outcome of today’s special general meeting of the Law Association. I am grateful for the vote of confidence by the majority. I acknowledged and respect the concerns of those in the minority.
“I wish to thank my colleagues in the legal fraternity for taking the time to participate in the process. In addition, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the Law Association for the manner in which it managed this entire matter.”
Taklalsingh who said the original requisition was meant to hold the AG to account as the integrity of the legal profession was in question, said although both motions failed, he was pleased due process was followed.
He said members were given an opportunity to speak freely on the matter and he was also pleased Armour was able to attend the debate.
“This Attorney General came, he was contrite, he apologised to members of the Law Association and that may have swayed the vote. We won’t know but, at the end of the day, we think that holding him to account in some form and fashion, we think we achieved our purpose.”
Taklalsingh dismissed the notion of political involvement in filing the motions or that the association could fire of discipline the AG.
He said the intention was to send a message that unprofessional conduct was unacceptable as the actions of the AG in the Miami case was not in keeping with the traditions of the bar.
Taklalsingh said Armour’s explanation should not be accepted as a “mere mistake” as it will signal an “appalling apathy” for affidavits.