Trinidad and Tobago
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Picked to investigate disappeared Naipaul-Coolman file – Justice Stanley John ready ‘to hit ground running’


Retired Appeal Court judge Stanley John. –

RETIRED Appeal Court judge Stanley John says he is ready to “hit the ground running,” after he was announced as the lead investigator selected by Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, to investigate the disappearance of the Vindra Naipaul-Coolman file.

This disappearance led to the State failing to defend a malicious prosecution case brought by nine men acquitted of murdering Naipaul-Coolman, who were subsequently awarded over $20m in compensation.

During the Prime Minister’s questions and answers segment of the sitting of the House of Representatives on Friday, Dr Rowley itemised the terms of reference for the investigation given to John via letter on Thursday.

The letter, Rowley said, authorises John and one other investigator to probe the disappearance of the file after it was sent to the Solicitor General’s office on June 23, 2020.

The team will also investigate the failure of that department to enter an appearance in the matter, failing to give notice to the legal secretariat of the AG’s office, and failing to defend the case.

John will interrogate the systemic processes in existence and make recommendations for improvement with reference to the departments of the Solicitor General and Chief State Solicitor and, the management of civil proceedings in the name of the Attorney General.

John, who is out of the country, told Newsday on Friday that he suggested the names of two people who can assist in his investigation and is awaiting confirmation, before identifying who they are. Asked when he was returning to begin investigations, John said with advancement in technology, he could begin his work while outside of the jurisdiction.

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HERE, CHIEF: Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, shows Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley something on his laptop during sitting of the House of Representatives on Friday. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE – Ayanna Kinsale

He said he has not yet received his terms of reference and is awaiting this before he could comment further on his investigations.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, promised the file’s disappearance will be thoroughly investigated. A day later, retired Caribbean Court of Justice judge Rolston Nelson, SC, was appointed as legal advisor to Armour, to advise on the next steps and if the State could appeal the award of compensation.

Rowley said the role of the two retired judges are different in that Nelson was selected to “provide independent legal support to the investigation,” while John leads the actual investigation. The PM said Armour will be at “arms length” during the investigation.