By Sue-Ann Wayow
ATTORNEY General Reginald Armour, SC, has apologised in the House of Representatives for saying that a breakdown of legal fees had been provided to the Parliament.
“Mea culpa,” he told the House which is the Latin for “through my fault” and an expression used to state one’s apologies.
During the Standing Finance Committee’s discussions on May 5, Member of Parliament for Barataria/San Juan Saddam Hosein stated that he asked Armour to provide a breakdown of all of the attorneys would be collecting fees. Amour said that the breakdown was laid in Parliament.
Hosein subsequently referred Armour to the Privileges Committee of the Parliament for misleading the House.
Armour said, “In response to the Opposition Member’s questions I responded at the time with reference to documents which had been provided to me and were in my possession in the Parliament during the Standing Finance Committee’s discussions.
“In so doing, I inadvertently and incorrectly stated that the breakdown of fees for the period June 19, 2021 to March 3, 2023, had been provided to the Parliament.”
He also said, “In so doing, I mistakenly relied on a document containing legal fees paid by the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs.”
While speaking, member of Parliament for Couva South Rudranath Indarsingh was instructed by Deputy House Speaker Esmond Forde to leave the Chamber for comments made during Armour’s speaking time.
Armour said that the document he relied on was a letter dated April 5, 2023, in response to a Freedom of Information request submitted to his Office based on a request made by Opposition activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj.
“This breakdown of fees had been provided by the Office of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs consistent with its recognition of the Government’s duty of transparency under the Freedom of Information Act. This breakdown of fees document was not laid in Parliament nor provided to the Members of Parliament during the third session of the 12th Parliament,” Armour said.
He said, “Mr Deputy Speaker, I take full responsibility for that inadvertent error. I wish to assure the Members of this House and the Parliament that
this error was neither deliberate nor intended to mislead this honourable House. I sincerely apologise to this honourable House and to the member for this inadvertent error on my part.”
Armour ended his apology by saying “Mea culpa.”