Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda, today (March 2), gave his testimony at the Commission of Enquiry into the extradition of Christopher Coke.
Under cross examination from attorney-at-law, K.D. Knight, Q.C., Mr. Samuda said that the investigations he conducted were really to investigate the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) relationship with the United States (US) law firm, Manatt, Phelps and Phillips.
“Public pronouncements by two functionaries within the party had reached a stage of some degree of impasse and therefore it was felt, as General Secretary, I should try and interact with both and try to calm the situation, because it had appeared that it was getting a bit heated. It is in that context that I had to investigate the situation,” Mr. Samuda said.
Mr. Knight also asked Mr. Samuda to disclose the names of the four persons who approached Mr. Harold Brady to engage Manatt, Phelps and Phillips.However, Mr. Samuda declined to divulge the information noting that he has “no intention of revealing those names.”
The Minister also stated that when he issued the press release on the investigations he carried out, it was an attempt to allow the public to have a better understanding of the situation.
Mr. Samuda also said he knew Mr. Coke and that he was a supporter of the Jamaica Labour Party. “We have never viewed him as a political operative,” Mr. Samuda said.
In the meantime, the JLP said it will not object to representatives of the US based law firm, Manatt, Phelps and Phillips assisting the Commission of Enquiry into the extradition of Mr. Coke.
This follows Tuesday’s (March 1) disclosure by Chairman of the Commission, Emil George, Q. C., that representatives from the law firm had expressed a willingness to assist the Enquiry, but could not do as they were bound by attorney client privilege.
The Chairman also received a letter from Prime Minister Hon. Bruce Golding outlining the government’s position on the engagement of the US law firm.
“The Government has not, at any time, engaged or authorised the services of Manatt, Phelps and Phillips in relation to the request by the United States Government for the extradition of Christopher Coke or any other extradition matter,” Mr. Golding said.
He added that the government therefore, was not in a position to claim privilege in relation to the law firm, while noting that the Government has no objections to representatives of Manatt, Phelps and Phillips testifying before the Commission.
Mr. George then stated that he will inform the US law firm’s attorneys of the development and will await the firm’s position on the matter.
The Commission of Enquiry will continue on Thursday (March 3) at the Jamaica Conference Centre, with the testimony of Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne.
CONTACT: LATONYA LINTON