CHIEF JUSTICE Ivor Archie yesterday condemned statements made by Justice Minister Herbert Volney which suggested that he had benefitted from a “sweetheart” house deal and warned that they would not remain unchallenged.
In a four-page statement, Archie stated that the Judiciary, moreso the office of the Chief Justice, will in no way subject itself to intimidation “by the scandalous vituperation” of Volney and will continue to work with all justice sectors to speed up the delivery of justice.
Archie noted, that for a second time since Volney’s “overnight retirement as a judge…and his simultaneous entry into local politics,” he has had cause to caution Volney for public statements which have the effect of bringing the Judiciary into disrepute.
In May, Archie’s lawyers issued a pre-action protocol letter warning Volney of impending legal action following statements made by St Joseph MP during a television interview and comments made on the political platform.
In yesterday’s statement, Archie said it was regrettable that Speaker of the House Wade Mark did not seek to restrain Volney during the budget debate on Thursday and questioned whether Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar would distance herself from them.
Mark said yesterday he had not yet received a copy of the Chief Justice’s statement, but noted : “I intend to uphold the dignity and decorum of the House. I pledged in my acceptance speech (at the opening of Parliament) to uphold the best traditions and dignity of the Parliament and I intend to do so. I will look into the matters raised by the Honourable Chief Justice and would pronounce on them at a future time. I will look into his concerns and will have more to say at a later time”.
In his statement, Archie said Volney’s recent statements “launched a scurrilous and defamatory attack on the office of the Chief Justice and the Judiciary as a whole” done under the cover of parliamentary privilege.
In his maiden parliamentary speech, Volney accused Archie of corruption and collusion with former attorney general John Jeremie who was “involving himself more and more in the business of the Judicary, in a way straddling the line of the Montesquien concept of the separation of powers and covertly undermining the independence of the Judiciary”.
Describing Volney’s conduct as regrettable, Archie said the Justice Minister’s “brashness and reprehensible conduct” came at a time when the Judiciary has been reaching out to the Executive to improve the effectiveness of the administration of justice.
Archie said such attacks were not being taken lightly and alluded that all avenues are being looked at, including legal action, since it is his responsibility to ensure the integrity of the Judiciary and its components remain intact.
Archie said: “His (Volney’s) looseness with respect to the Judiciary will not remain unchallenged, and…every avenue will be pursued to ensure remedy for any sullying of the character of the Honourable the Chief Justice or any other member of the Court.”