Gajraj probe
Crandon could face conflict of interest - Ramotar
Stabroek News
June 6, 2004

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The argument that Police Service Commission Chair-man, Ivan Crandon is barred by the constitution from being appointed to the Commission of Inquiry looking into allegations against Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj, is less valid than the simple point of a conflict of interest.

So says PPP general secretary Donald Ramotar who notes, "I have read the constitution and I think the definition of a public officer does not preclude Mr Crandon from being involved. That's my view. I think some of the arguments that some of the people are putting about conflict of interest and so forth is probably a stronger argument than the one we are talking about that he is not entitled because of any constitutional issue."

Crandon, together with Justice of Appeal Ian Chang SC and Maj Gen (rtd) Norman McLean are to be members of the presidential commission named by President Bharrat Jagdeo last month. In response to comments from a number of civil society organisations President Jagdeo is now seeking legal advice about Crandon's appointment.

Asked about the quality of the legal advice tendered to the President before he announced the commission, Ramotar said that the question was one that should be directed to the President. But he said, speaking as a layman and on his own, "I do not believe that there is legal impediment to prevent Mr Crandon from participating in that position."

Article 210(5) of the Constitution states: "A person shall not, while he holds or is acting in the officer of appointed member of the Police Service Commission or within a period of three years commencing with the date on which he last held or acted in that office, be eligible for appointment to or to act in any public office."

Article 232 of Title 10 Interpretation of the Constitution says, "public office means an office of emolument in the public service and for the avoidance of doubt it is hereby declared that the expression includes the office of a teacher in the public service and any office in the Police Force."

The public Service is defined by the same article as meaning "subject to the provisions of paragraph 5, the service of Government of Guyana in a civil capacity." Paragraph 5 of the same article says that references to the public service shall not be construed as including service in:

(b) the office of any member of a Commission established by this Constitution or of the Public Service Appellate Tribunal."