OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has come under heavy fire from the most senior attorney at the Inner bar currently in practice, Israel Khan, SC.
In a letter in which he minced no words, Khan said Persad-Bissessar’s “baseless attack” on the integrity of the members of the Inner bar (those who have attained senior counsel status) was “obscene.”
At a UNC virtual report forum on Monday, the Opposition leader accused some lawyers of “grovelling” to support Attorney General Reginald Armour at last Friday’s vote of a motion of no confidence in him as AG by the Law Association because of the bungling of the State’s civil-forfeiture case involving the Piarco Airport corruption case in Miami.
At Friday’s vote, 317 lawyers were against the motion of no confidence while 301 voted against the motion to call on Armour to resign as AG.
The two motions failed.
At the special general meeting of the Law Association, Armour apologised to the legal fraternity and several senior attorneys spoke out in his defence during a debate on the motions brought by a requisition from 40 attorneys, led by Kiel Taklalsingh.
The Opposition Leader said those who voted against the motion and spoke out in defence of Armour did so to protect their state briefs and board appointments.
In his letter, Khan said Persad-Bissessar, who is also a senior counsel, had no shame and was not a leader of the Inner bar.
He said he was not a member of the UNC, but supported the party and recognised Persad-Bissessar as its leader.
“ I accept and know that you are an extremely strong woman, an astute and cunning politician who deserves a second chance to be the Prime Minister of this country.”
But, he said he did not recognise her as a leader of the Inner bar, neither civil nor criminal and as a leader of the criminal bar, he does not accept or recognise her as an attorney deserving the status of senior counsel.
He questioned her receiving the honour of “silk,” asking for particulars of her practice as an attorney.
Khan further told her, “You are an experienced politician, and politics has a morality of its own. And in your quest to undermine and thus destroy the credibility of your opponent, Dr Keith Rowley, you are attacking the merit, ability and integrity of his chosen Attorney General
Reginald Armour, SC, – a man of impeccable integrity.
“But you did not stop there! You have gone beyond the attacks on the politicians and you have now descended into the arena of the legal profession to attack the members of the Inner bar who supported the Attorney General in the recent no-confidence motion.”
Khan said it was incumbent on him to put her in her place.
He took issue with her describing senior attorneys as Cepep and URP lawyers who sang for their supper, naming those who the Opposition Leader singled out in her speech on Monday. One of them was former attorney general Russell Martineau, SC.
“He possesses the merit, ability and integrity of an honourable member of the Inner bar. Yet you made a wicked, vicious, vulgar and immoral attack on his impeccable integrity and without blinking an eye you stated you had the utmost respect for him. What an oxymoron.”
Khan said Persad-Bissessar was in no position to criticise any senior counsel even if they supported Armour on Friday and called on her to return the instrument of senior counsel to the President.
Khan accused the Opposition Leader of putting her foot in her mouth and crossing the line by her condemnation of those attorneys who spoke in defence of the AG.
He also condemned those senior counsel who failed to contribute to Friday’s debate, accusing them of “showing their true colours” as nothing “but a legal parasitic oligarchy.”
However, despite his strong condemnation of Persad-Bissessar, Khan said he will still support her as the UNC leader and will still vote to make her the next PM by voting for the UNC’s candidate for the Tunapuna electoral district at the next general election.