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Kamla not apologising to A&V Oil & Gas
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s attorneys have told attorneys for A&V Oil and Gas that she will not be intimated or scared into silence and that A&V’s claim is ill-founded, baseless in law and doomed to fail.
In a release yesterday, Persad-Bissessar said she had been advised by attorney Douglas Bayley, of Freedom Law Chambers, that as Opposition Leader she is free to comment on “all aspects of governance, including the performance and transparency and accountability of state-owned enterprises,” since this is “constitutionally protected and vital to the democracy.”
In a pre-action protocol letter last week, A&V had requested an apology and retraction from Persad-Bissessar and an undertaking that she would not publish or re-publish any defamatory words.
But Persad-Bissessar’s attorneys added that the internal audit report into the fake oil fiasco was covered by qualified privilege and having been provided with a copy of the report from a reliable source, Persad-Bissessar felt duty bound to disclose it to the public.
The attorneys said Petrotrin had in fact confirmed that the audit report was authentic and to date there had been no retraction from Petrotrin to the audit report, which detailed an unexplained discrepancy in the recorded volumes that saw Petrotrin allegedly paying close to TT$80 million for oil it never received.
Persad-Bissessar’s attorneys said “there can be no claim for defamation in the face of the truth,” adding A&V have “no right in law to protect a fake and false corporate image, reputation and character.”
They also pointed to the friendship between A&V CEO Nazim Baksh and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, which the PM has admitted to in the public domain, the advertisement in which Baksh congratulates Rowley and his Government on its good performance and the fact that Baksh’s daughter is a government Senator under the People’s National Movement Government.
In this scenario, Persad-Bissessar’s attorneys said the public would have a right to enquire and to know if there were any suggestions of wrong doing on the part of A&V in relation to Petrotrin and the performance of their contractual duties.
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