Phillips scolds commission chairman

BY TANESHA MUNDLE Observer staff reporter

Wednesday, February 23, 2011    

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FORMER national security minister Dr Peter Phillips yesterday lost his temper and scolded Emil George, telling the chairman of the Dudus/Manatt Commission of Enquiry that he had a right to answer questions put to him by an attorney without being interrupted by the said lawyer.

Phillips' outburst came as he was being cross-examined by attorney John Vassell, who is representing National Security Minister Dwight Nelson, on the two controversial Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) signed by Phillips in 2004 and which Phillips later said were being used in a smear campaign against him.

Phillips had earlier told the enquiry that a policy which states that operational matters should not be brought to Cabinet, which he attributed to former Prime Minister PJ Patterson, was the basis for him not informing Cabinet about the MOUs.

However, he lost his cool when Vassell asked if the policy had been documented.

Phillips had first attempted to answer the question by saying that the policy was embodied in a long-standing set of arrangements, however, Vassell persisted and asked if the policy was in a document.

Phillips responded by making reference to the policy but George quickly intervened and told him to answer the question.

"Try and tell him not to put words in my mouth," Phillips told George in reference to Vassell.

The commission chairman, however, told Phillips that he was being cross-examined and therefore should answer the question.

"Let me, please let me explain something to you," Phillips said angrily while pointing his finger at the chairman and knocking his fist on the desk.

"But you're not in charge of the commission," George responded.

"I am not in charge of it, but I demand my right under your direction," Phillips said.

"Let me make something very, very clear," he added. "I have come to this enquiry under no compulsion. I have volunteered to be here. I am not going to be treated as somebody accused, badgered, harassed, prevented from giving answers. I don't think it is fair. It is inappropriate and there is no force from hell or elsewhere that can prevent me from getting my right to speak here."

Phillips, who was again instructed to answer the question, said that the policy might be in documents which preceded his administration. However, he maintained that there were many instances in which the prime minister had determined that matters relating to intelligence should not be taken to Cabinet.

Earlier in the morning session, Phillips accused Prime Minster Bruce Golding of failing to do anything about JLP members calling him a "CIA agent" and a "Sell Out".




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