“Fact check there is no Michelle Emmanuel-Steele Commissioner on this Commission over the last five years. Yes, she had been appointed by His Excellency Sir. Carlyle Glean but left in 2013, when her own dear husband perhaps came in as a minister, but ahead of that, she had resigned…perhaps she had hit the campaign trail.”
That was the response coming from Head of the Integrity Commission, Guyanese-born attorney-at-law, Anande Trotman-Joseph, who sought to clear the air in relation to statements made in the September 7, front page editorial of THE NEW TODAY and an article on page 12 headlined, “Government welcomes Integrity Commissions inquiry into MNIB operations”.
The articles indicated that Emmanuel-Steele, a female lawyer and wife of Health Minister, Nicholas Steele, was a member of the Commission, which is investigating allegations of financial wrongdoing at the state-owned Marketing National and Importing Board (MNIB).
Trotman-Joseph who is married to Acting Attorney-General, Dr. Lawrence Joseph was responding to a question posed by THE NEW TODAY during last week Wednesday’s press conference at the Public Workers Building (PWU).
The specific question is why she did not follow the example set by Emmanuel Steele and quit the Integrity Commission when Dr. Joseph was appointed to the government post.
She said: “My husband as you know is a professional Attorney General, that is the way he was appointed as a professional and if you look at our own Act, you can see that we are independent and I think it is something that has to be shared very authentically…”.
“…As someone who has been an attorney for over 31 years and served in many capacities and was already serving as deputy chair since the inception of this Commission, having been elected by my peers and having been appointed that was a particular situation that when my husband took up his appointment as a professional Attorney General of Grenada I was already serving as the Chairman,” she added.
Trotman-Joseph did not address the fact that her husband, a card bearing member of NNP had served different Keith Mitchell-led governments in a political capacity as Minister of Legal Affairs, Minister of Labour and President of the Senate.In addition, Dr. Joseph contested the 1990 and 1995 general elections on NNP tickets and on both occasions were rejected by the electorate.
Trotman-Joseph was strenuous in her decision to remain on the Integrity Commission and not step aside on account of her husband’s many partisan political journeys with NNP over the years.
She insisted: “And as I said before, my obligation would not be to government, my obligations are to transparency and truth and to share with you – we have in place for sometime in this Commission, a conflict management system with protocols. I have to stand before the people of Grenada in my own integrity, professional and personal…to say to them that you have invested in me”.
According to the female barrister-at-law, it takes “a lot of taxpayers money to be who I am.”
She also defended her decision not to resign as Chair of the Integrity Commission on account of her husband by stating that she has “been with this particular organisation all the way through and I cannot just throw away the baby with the bath water for a perception.”
“…I do give the assurance that I stand on the Integrity Commission’s conflict management system, my own values, my professional history…and my oath that I took to the people of Grenada to serve them with confidentiality and integrity,” she remarked.
Less than one month after stepping down as Chairman of the Public Service Commission (PSC), in June, Attorney-at-Law, Derick Sylvester, raised concerns about conflict of interest over the husband and wife team of Acting Attorney-General Dr. Joseph and his wife who was at the time also serving as President of the Grenada Bar Association.
Trotman-Joseph did not seek re-election to head the private bar for another term and the post was taken up by another female lawyer, Lisa Taylor.
THE NEW TODAY understands that the Mitchell-led government has started a search for a new Attorney-General to replace Dr. Joseph.
The front-runner is said to be Guyanese-born Attorney-at-Law Darshan Ramdhani who once served in the Ministry of Legal Affairs as Solicitor General.