Hugo Patt Seeks Leave for Judicial Review Following Conflict of Interest Report

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January 19, 2022

Hugo Patt Seeks Leave for Judicial Review Following Conflict of Interest Report

Hugo Patt

The representative of the Corozal Nord region, Hugo Patt, was summoned to testify before a commission of inquiry on February 26, 2021. During his appearance before the panel, the former deputy prime minister was questioned about several transactions involving the sale of his ministerial vehicle while he was still the Minister of Natural Resources. At the time, he told the commission that he did not recall specific details regarding the sale of his 2020 Toyota Tacoma. It was among several testimonies given during an investigation into the sale of assets. governments at the end of the last Barrow administration. Last week, the commission published a forty-six-page report that drew the ire of the former UDP minister, prompting him to take legal action, including an interim injunction restraining any action taken on the report of the commission. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Report

Former Deputy Prime Minister Hugo Patt, through his attorney, has filed for judicial review challenging the findings of a commission of inquiry into the sell-off of government assets under the previous administration. . The former Minister of Natural Resources believes that he was unfairly treated by the commission, notably in a recent report where its conclusions were published. He subsequently seeks an interim injunction to prevent the government from moving forward with this report.

Patt is represented by former Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who also appeared before the three-member panel during its initial hearing. Senior Counsel Barrow has since returned to private practice, after retiring from electoral politics. Speaking with News Five, he highlighted three points for which, among other things, redress will be sought if the case is allowed to proceed. These arguments are based on the procedures followed to arrive at the conclusions published in the report. According to the seasoned lawyer, these procedures were deeply flawed. His client, the regional representative of the UDP for Corozal Nord, did not benefit from natural justice. Barrow posits that the findings should not have been published in the report without informing Patt that these details would cast him in a negative light, thus allowing him to make representations on his behalf. Likewise, Patt was never allowed to ask his attorney to cross-examine any witness who appeared before the commission to testify against him. Therefore, the basis for judicial review is that the commission ignored Patt’s right to natural justice.

André Marshalleck

There is also an accusation that the commission was partial. Although it has certain powers and can require the presence of witnesses, as well as the presentation of certain documents to discover information which might otherwise be difficult to obtain, the government cannot interfere in the direction taken by the commission of investigation, nor can it influence the findings. In this case, Barrow argues that lead counsel Andrew Marshalleck was appointed president by Prime Minister John Briceño, despite the fact that at the time Marshalleck also represented him in a libel suit brought by the former tourism director Karen Bevans. Marshalleck, said Barrow, also served as legal adviser to the People’s United Party and served on its national executive. As a result, the credibility of the commission is in question.

If leave is granted, Patt seeks a declaration that the proceedings were flawed, tainted by bias and that his rights to natural justice were violated. He would also ask for the report to be cancelled. More importantly, Patt would argue that the violation of his rights also encompassed the violation of his constitutional rights to equal protection under the law. On the basis that his constitutional rights were violated, Patt will seek damages.

Reporting for News Five, I’m Isani Cayetano.

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