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Court reserves judgement in Walker/OCG case

Paul Henry

Wednesday, January 16, 2013    

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THE Judicial Review Court yesterday reserved judgement in former Customs boss Danville Walker's application to overturn the Office of the Contractor General's (OCG's) recommendation that he be charged with obstructing a 2011 probe into a breach of the scrap metal ban.

The court, constituted of three justices, is expected to hand down its ruling within the next 50 days.

The court reserved its ruling following two days of arguments from Walker's legal team of Dr Lloyd Barnett and Keith Bishop, and Queen's Counsel Jacqueline Samuels-Brown, who represents the contractor general.

The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Cabinet in October 2011 placed a ban on scrap metal. Notwithstanding the order, 97 containers were shipped without Customs getting the requisite permit from the Trade Board.

A probe of the breach was conducted and Walker given a date by which to respond to questions posed by the OCG. But Walker didn't meet the first deadline of December 2. He was given an extension to December 15 but also failed to meet that deadline.

Walker eventually submitted answers to the questions in the latter part of December.

However, the OCG recommended that charges be laid against him for not providing the responses in a timely manner, in contravention of the Contractor General Act. That matter is to come up before the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court on January 30, where it will be put off until after a ruling in the Judicial Review case is made.

On Monday, Barnett argued, among other things, that the contractor general was being "irrational and unfair" with his tight deadlines. He said that the contractor general had given more time for responses to persons in "less serious matters".

Barnett argued that Walker would have had to seek legal advice on some of the questions asked, that he was at the time no longer at Customs and as such was not privy to certain documents, and that he was busy with his election campaigning in Manchester.

Furthermore, Walker's legal team is contending that the OCG does not have the jurisdiction to conduct the probe it did into the matter.

But Samuels-Brown asked the court to dismiss Walker's application, arguing that it had been filed out of time, according to the Civil Procedure Rules. She argued that sufficient time was given for Walker to respond to the questions posed.

The case is presided over by justices Lennox Campbell, Bryan Sykes and Jennifer Straw.

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