Robinson ran from firestorm, says Golding
THE real reason junior foreign minister Dr Ronald Robinson resigned his position and apologised for meeting with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips was to remove himself from the firestorm of the Christopher 'Dudus' Coke extradition saga.
That was the assertion Prime Minister Bruce Golding made yesterday, his second day of giving evidence in the Dudus/Manatt commission of enquiry at the Jamaica Conference Centre.
Golding said he could not understand the stated regret in Robinson's resignation letter since he (Golding) had approved the November 2010 trip to Washington for the specific purpose of meeting with the law firm.
"The impression that I got, Mr Chairman, was that this matter had become controversial. It was, in my view, seen by him as a firestorm that was coming and I think that he felt that he ought to take a position and take a decision that would remove him from the path of that firestorm," said the prime minister, addressing commission Chairman Emil George, QC.
"There was never any misunderstanding, as far as I am concerned. There was never any doubt or ambiguity that my instruction to Dr Robinson, certainly in relation to the November engagement with Manatt, was for him to accompany Mr Brady to meet with Manatt. That was the specific purpose for which he travelled to Washington," said Golding.
Robinson resigned on May 20 last year at the height of the swirling extradition saga that strained an otherwise friendly relationship between Kingston and Washington. He was subsequently branded in the public domain as the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) fall guy.
In his resignation letter addressed to the prime minister, Robinson — who was also a Government senator — apologised for meeting with Manatt and apologised, saying that his contact with the US-based firm "could have been inappropriate".
But yesterday, the prime minister maintained that it was in his capacity as a party officer that Robinson was sent to accompany attorney Harold Brady to meet with the law firm.
"I have some difficulty in understanding his regret at having met with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips because this was the precise purpose for him having to travel to Washington in November," he reiterated.
Earlier, Golding said he had approved the hiring of the law firm in order to foster a greater level of engagement with United States officials in Washington because talks with officials from the US Embassy in Kingston were going nowhere.
He stressed, however, that his instruction was that the firm be hired on behalf of the JLP and not the Government of Jamaica.
Manatt, however, is maintaining that it was hired by Brady to act on behalf of the Government of Jamaica.