Cajeton Hood: “I will not be made a political scapegoat”

Former Attorney-General, Cajeton Hood is taking strong offense to statements made by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell which seemingly took a swipe at the quality of his legal advice given to government when he served as principal legal advisor to the Cabinet of Ministers during the 2013-18 period.

Hood released a statement last Friday in which he said that he was forced “to defend my professional integrity and competence since they appear to be under attack by the Honourable Prime Minister, Dr. Mitchell”.

The former AG was responding to a charge made by the Grenadian leader in a meeting with staffers at the Ministry of Legal Affairs in which he praised the newly appointed Attorney-General, Guyana-born Darshan Ramdhani and expressed reservations with those who were offering legal advise to the State in recent years.

Dr. Mitchell said he was confident that Ramdhani, a former Solicitor General in Grenada, would provide “far superior legal representation than the government has experienced in recent years” and expressed concern with the number of recent court cases lost in which government was ordered to pay compensation.

“We have lost a number of cases because we have not put our best foot forward. This cannot be allowed to continue”, he said.

One of the cases involved former Cabinet Secretary, Gemma Bain-Thomas who was awarded close to a million EC dollars in compensation and benefits after the court ruled that Prime Minister Mitchell had breached the constitution in the illegal manner in which she was forced out of the job when he returned to power following the 2013 general election.

As a public service, THE NEW TODAY reproduces in full the statement released by Attorney Hood in which he called on PM Mitchell to show “some decency and integrity”.

“I was shocked to read some statements by the Honourable Prime Minister which were made in an address to the Ministry of Legal Affairs and I believe that I need to defend my professional integrity and competence since they appear to be under attack by the Honourable Prime Minister, Dr. Mitchell.

Attorney Hood – has sought to defend his reputation as a lawyer

True to form, and in keeping with his style of never accepting responsibility for the results of his own deeds or misdeeds, he now attempts to blame members of the Ministry of Legal Affairs “over the last few years” for the Government of Grenada’s indebtedness to Claimants.

I am now forced to respond. I was personally approached and offered the post of Attorney General by the current Prime Minister shortly after the conclusion of the parliamentary elections in 2013. I wish to state categorically that I never applied for the post and I only agreed after being asked for the third time by Dr. Mitchell.

I entered into a four (4) year contract with the Government of Grenada commencing on or about April 4, 2013. In the year 2017 I was asked to extend my contract for another 6 months as I had indicated to the Prime Minister that I wished to return to my private office to lend support to my son who had been called to the Grenada Bar in October 2014.

During the period of my tenure the quality of my work was not called into question by the Government of Grenada. There were occasions when the results of court matters had been questioned and the appropriate responses were always promptly given. I hesitate to go into details about those matters because, in my view, they form part of lawyer-client privilege.

I challenge the Honourable Prime Minister to waive that privilege and allow me to fully respond to this cowardly and unfair attack on me.

It is a documented fact that the said Dr. Mitchell, the Honourable Prime Minister has repeatedly announced on several occasions during my tenure as Attorney General that my appointment had been reported to him, in general, to be the best appointment that he had made since returning to the leadership of Grenada in 2013.

Mr. Prime Minister, if you allow me to, I will be only too happy to give the details of some of those occasions and to jog your now-failing memory accordingly. Sir, I challenge you to present to the public the details of the sums outstanding to Claimants that you are complaining about.

In most, if not all of these cases, the sums have been awarded due to clear excesses and breaches of law against citizens of our dear nation that have been committed by your administration or previous administrations.

Prime Minister Mitchell – accused state lawyers of giving poor legal representation

In fact, there are some judgments that are unpaid in which I  appeared for the Claimants before I became Attorney General. I recall a claim for Eddie Frederick and one for several police officers who were denied promotion, in which they alleged interference by you, the Honourable Prime Minister.

For the benefit of objective comment and conclusion, I urge any neutral interested person to consult the current Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank who was the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Grenada during most of my tenure, to ascertain the role that my office and I played in the Home Grown Structural Adjustment Program that the Honourable Prime Minister boasts about and whose results he now seems to always seek to hide behind.

The current Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit can reveal, if he is pressed and chooses to respond, facts about the remarkable progress and advancement we made as a country in the areas of Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing under the CFATF regime from the year 2013 and onwards.

The records are there for objective review and as Grenadians we need to refuse to listen to these statements that are made out of political expedience and are meant to distract and divert citizens from the truth of the matters regarding the manner in which our dear country is being governed.

In each and every matter concerning the state which was decided by the courts during my tenure as Attorney General, if the Prime Minister allows me to give the full details, I can show the nation the real reason why the state did not achieve success.

Prime Minister, it is cowardly and despicable to accuse persons who you know cannot defend themselves. You are literally punching me while my hands are tied behind my back. I challenge you to loosen my hands and then let us have a fair fight. I speak on behalf of the past Solicitor General, Dwight Horsford and the hardworking Crown Counsels in the Ministry of Legal Affairs who spent many sleepless nights, weekends and holidays trying to find ways to defend the decisions of this administration.

This has been done in spite of loss of salary, refusal to fill posts, whether or not advice given was followed, and other “legal persons” receiving over twice the salaries of top officers in the Ministry of Legal Affairs.

If Dr. Mitchell now admits that his administration did not put its best foot forward, the staff of the Ministry of Legal Affairs has always done so under my watch.

The Honourable Prime Minister seems to forget that the current Attorney General was Solicitor General when he became Prime Minister in 2013. In fact, it is the current Attorney General who led the matter of the government’s acquisition of the interest of friend and party member Wilberforce Nyack, in the property on Grand Anse beach which is now designated as the location for Part II of the Silver Sands hotel project.

If allowed, I will reveal the reason why the Prime Minister refused to renew his contract and the most likely reason why he has made him Attorney General at present and now sings his praises, attempting to use him to get at myself and Dwight Horsford, who is now serving as Attorney General in the British colony of Anguilla.

All I can say now is that, time will tell.

Chief, this will not work! If you wish for a battle with me, then I am up for it!

AND, if you untie my hands I can speak up fully and publicly about the salary deduction and pension and other issues also.

I will not be made a political scapegoat. I will not be used as one uses adult pampers.

Tell the truth, Honourable Prime Minister!

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