The passing of a legal great

The Caribbean and international community has lost a giant in the legal field with the passing of Karl Terrence Hudson-Phillips, Q.C.

The Trinidad-born Hudson-Phillips who has practiced in many of the courts in the Caribbean, Europe and elsewhere died at the age of 80 while on a visit to London, England.

This was a lawyer extraordinaire and par excellence that even many in the legal profession in Grenada and the Caribbean were not capable of carrying his bag with his law books to serve as his junior in matters before the law courts.

Hudson-Phillips was to put it simple and mildly in a category of his own in law and few in the region could be placed alongside him shoulder to shoulder.

The people of Grenada would have heard about Karl not as a lawyer initially but from a calypso composed by the Mighty Chaulkdust called “Ah Fraid Karl” when he served as Attorney-General of Trinidad & Tobago and was instrumental in the passing in Parliament of the Public Order Act to deal with the Black Power insurrection against late Prime Minister, Eric Williams.

The song is still considered as one of the better classics of Chaulkdust and might have left a permanent mark on the memory of Trinbagonians that it affected Hudson-Phillips in later years when he ventured on his own to form a political organization to vie for state power in the twin island republic.

However, the people of Grenada came directly into contact with the late Karl Terrence Hudson-Phillips when he was retained to become the lead Prosecutor for the State in the Maurice Bishop Murder Trial which was held at a high court created on the compound of the Richmond Hill prison.

Hudson-Phillips came with a reputation as one of the best exponents in the legal profession in any part of the world.

The Bishop Killers who included the likes of Bernard Coard, Ewart Layne, General Hudson Austin and former Mobilisation Minister Selwyn Strachan had hired a battery of lawyers from Jamaica that was headed by an eminent Queen’s Counsel, Ian Ramsey who was considered as one of the few lawyers in the English-speaking Caribbean who was in the same category of Hudson-Phillips in the court house.

The expected show down did not last for long as the Jamaican attorneys including Ramsey soon withdrew from the case and left the then 19 murder accused without legal representation to face the might of Karl.

The history would record that 17 of the 19 were convicted and sentenced to hang for the murder of Bishop, one – Raeburn Nelson was found not guilty by the jury and another the late Fabian Vernon Gabriel, a Sergeant in the disbanded People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA) turned on his fellow prison inmates and struck a deal with the Crown to give evidence against Coard and the others,.

This was not the end of Hudson-Phillips’ association with Grenada as many of the governments in the aftermath of the October 1983 bloody events on the island turned to him for legal advise and counsel on a number of important State matters.

Karl was approached by the Keith Mitchell government after its first clean sweep at the polls to give advice on how to select persons to serve in the Senate since only one party was in control of all seats in Parliament and there was no official opposition.

As a leading attorney, he was also again called upon by Prime Minister Mitchell and his government to help defend the Petition brought before the high court by George Prime, the defeated NDC Candidate for Carriacou in the 2003 general elections when he lost the seat by a mere six questionable votes to the incumbent, Elvin Nimrod.

Hudson-Phillips was also approached by the Congress government to seek his legal advice on the oil agreement signed between the Mitchell government and a group of Russians to explore for oil and gas in Grenadian waters.

He reportedly advised the Tillman Thomas government that the agreement was bad and should be scrapped and went further to suggest that if the government was able to get the Russians to co-operate then criminal charges could be brought against a leading member of the NNP on the issue of the missing EC$1.6 million dollars from the Russians that was never deposited into the Treasury.

Is it any wonder that the current Controllers of the State of Grenada have not issued any formal statement on the passing of Hudson-Phillips who had provided yeoman service to this island in the legal profession?

Just before his death, the NNP government seemed to have debunked an approach made by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for Hudson-Phillips to be brought in to help the State in the case brought against five police officers implicated in the death of Canadian/Grenadian citizen Oscar Bartholomew following a beating incident at the St. David’s police station.

The government turned down Hudson-Phillips in favour of another Trinidad criminal lawyer.

The late Karl Hudson-Phillips demonstrated his love for Grenada by purchasing a property on the sister isle of Carriacou and often used it as as a get away home and place of rest and relaxation after his many battles in court houses in the Caribbean and elsewhere.

THE NEW TODAY would like to remember the late Karl Hudson-Phillips with the following words taken from Albert Pike who was also an attorney-at-law and great writer in the United States and lived between December 29, 1809 and April 2, 1891.

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal”.



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