PM: Gov't didn't establish commission to cover up actions
Knight in parting shot says Golding must pack up and go
PRIME Minister Bruce Golding yesterday dismissed a suggestion that he had established the Dudus/Manatt Commission of Enquiry with the intention to cover up his Government's actions during the prolonged extradition of Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.
"I don't agree," Golding responded to attorney Patrick Atkinson, who is representing Opposition People's National Party (PNP) MP Peter Phillips at the commission of enquiry.
Atkinson made the suggestion after questioning Golding about his Cabinet's selection of the commissioners and establishing the commission without consulting with the Opposition. In his defence, Golding said that former prime minister Michael Manley had acted similarly when he established a commission of enquiry to look into his calling of a state of emergency in the 1970s. The prime minister said he saw no conflict of interest in the matter.
The selection of the commissioners was criticised by the PNP, which questioned the previous connection of the chairman to the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). But in defence of the selection last year, Golding said all three commissioners had offered outstanding service to Jamaica.
The commission was set up to look into the Government's handling of the Coke extradition request, which led to strained relations between Kingston and Washington.
Golding had also earlier refuted a suggestion by Atkinson that his Government had been trying to cover up its handling of the request. Golding also said that he did not seek Coke's assistance in his bid to become member of parliament for the West Kingston constituency.
Atkinson's suggestion to Golding followed on the heels of an accusation by attorney KD Knight (representing the PNP) that the prime minister was a "pathologically mendacious person" and that he had a "condition" when it came to telling the truth.
Knight had suggested that Golding had lied to Parliament and the public when he spoke last year about the hiring of United States law firm Manatt, Phelps and Phillips. Golding was also accused of lying to the commission of enquiry.
"Prime Minister... you are a mendacious person. I'm suggesting that. You are pathologically mendacious," said Knight. But chairman Emile George intervened and tried to stop Knight from making the suggestion. However, Knight would not yield.
"He (is) pathologically mendacious. You have a pathological condition when it comes to telling the truth and I'm suggesting to you that you have misled; you have conspired and you have deceived the Parliament, the people of this country and this commission... and that you, prime minister should resign, pack your bags and go," said Knight, prompting an objection from the prime minister's attorney.
An agitated Golding said he was not prepared to answer any further questions from Knight and put up with any further abuse. But Knight said that he had finished questioning the prime minister.
The prime minister had moments earlier denied a suggestion from Knight that it was out of fear for Coke and the impact his extradition would have on the JLP, why the extradition request was so strongly contested for nine months.
"... Each step of the way you conjured up a story aimed simply to cover up your intention along with others from your Government and others from your party to prevent Mr Coke from answering to charges made against him in the United States of America," Knight alleged.