Appeal court Reserves Ruling in Case Involving former Prime Minister

KINGSTON, Jamaica (CMC) - Former prime minister Portia Simpson Miller will have to wait until February 23 to know whether or not by some opposition legislators to have the so called “Trafigura affair” case go before the London-based Privy Council, the island’s highest court.

Last year, the Appeal Court dismissed their appeal against a Supreme Court ruling that Mrs Simpson Miller, Phillip Paulwell, Robert Pickersgill, Colin Campbell and Norton Hinds, must testify in open court about the J$31 million (One Jamaica dollar=US$0.008 cents) donation by Trafigura Baheer to the PNP in 2006. On Thursday, the Court of Appeal reserved its decision following an application by the attorneys for the former prime minister and the other appellants for leave to take their case to the Privy Council.

In applying for leave to the take the matter to the UK, the attorneys argued that the Appeal Court had incorrectly interpreted section 16 of the Constitution which gives protection to Mrs Simpson Miller and the others not to be compelled to give testimony publicly.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) which represents the Dutch government opposed the application, urging the Court to reject the application on the ground that the constitutionality of the ruling of Justice Campbell had been challenged before the Constitutional Court which rejected the arguments.The Dutch Authorities want to question the former prime minister and PNP president and the senior PNP members but they have challenged the ruling to give statements in public.

Under Dutch law it’s illegal for companies to donate to political parties. At the time of the donation, Trafigura had an oil-lifting contract with the then PNP administration.

In 2006, the Trafigura scandal resulted in the resignation of Colin Campbell as Information Minister.