The Ministry of Local Government and Community Development is refuting claims recently aired by Radio Jamaica that persons within and outside the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, have expressed concern and outrage at the use of private legal counsel in the defence of the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Dione Jennings. This emerged from the serving of summons on Mrs. Jennings by the Southern Regional Health Authority, arising from the Riverton Disposal Site smoke nuisance that occurred in March.
The Ministry, in fact, through formal letters dated March 23 and March 25, sought guidance from the Attorney-General’s Chambers regarding the most appropriate course of action. Specifically, the Ministry requested, among other things, that the Chambers provide representation in the matter. The Chambers responded on March 26 and gave clear advice to the effect that “…we are unable to do so having regard to the fact that the Chambers only appears in matters of a civil nature. The summons was issued pursuant to the petty session jurisdiction of the Resident Magistrate’s Court, which is a criminal jurisdiction. Consequently, the proceedings are of a criminal nature. It would therefore not be appropriate for a member of these Chambers to appear in a representative capacity. We would therefore urge you to utilize independent counsel…”
The Ministry further enquired whether it would be appropriate for the Ministry’s lawyers to represent the Ministry, and was advised that the Ministry’s lawyers could instruct external Counsel, who is experienced in criminal matters.
This was done, and the Ministry’s lawyers instructed Attorney-At-Law Mr. Peter Champagnie ,who defended the Permanent Secretary at no charge to the public purse.