Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi has sought to clarify reports that he extended legal advice to businessman Adrian Scoon in relation to “loopholes” in the public health regulations.
This comes on the heels of a police report that over 100 guests aboard the Ocean Pelican vessel were temporarily detained, Boxing Day, at the Anchorage in Chaguaramas, for violating the regulations, which stipulate that the use of party boats or pleasure craft is prohibited. And a subsequent newspaper report which suggested that Scoon pursued advice from AG Al-Rawi which led to the event.
On Tuesday, the Office of the Attorney General issued the following statement regarding the matter.
STATEMENT OF CLARIFICATION
The Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs (the “AG”) has taken note of an article appearing on Page 7 of today’s Express Newspaper written by Denyse Renne under the heading “Loophole for party boat – Police raid Boxing Day event”.
In this article Ms. Renne states alongside a large picture of the AG the following:
“A SENIOR LEGAL ADVISER in the Office of the Attorney General is said to have advised organisers of a loop hole in the Public Health Ordinance which enabled over 100 patrons and popular soca singers to assemble on board a pleasure craft converted into a “floating restaurant” on Sunday”.
Ms. Renne then goes on to state:
“Businessman Adrian Scoon wrote to Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh on December 26, 2021 stating he (Scoon) “wish to convert our vessel into a floating restaurant and, more importantly, a safe zone”
The correspondence to Deyalsingh reads, “Dear Minister Deyalsingh, we at the Ocean Pelican are writing to inform you that we have attained our Restaurant and Bar Licence and wish to convert our vessel into a floating Restaurant and, more importantly, as a safe zone.
“On advice from the Honourable AG Faris Al-Rawi, we ensure you that our vessel will remain docked and will not sail so as to adhere to the Public Health Ordinance Regulations. We emphasise that we plan on observing all protocols that constitute a safe zone during this period.”
The Article is alongside a box entitled “Questions for AG” where three questions which do NOT relate to the above are posed to the AG and are answered as quoted.
For the record and for the sake of accuracy and clarity the AG provides the following information which he would happily have disclosed to Ms. Renne had she bothered to ask:
- Mr. Adrian Scoon who is very well known to the AG, called many weeks ago to ask a general question about the Public Health Regulations and party boats and the AG specifically informed him to put his enquires to the Minister of Health and/or Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts. The AG specifically cautioned Mr. Scoon to ensure that whatever he does, he must strictly observe the law, as there are no exceptions.
- The AG gave NO legal advice to Mr. Scoon whatsoever.
- The AG NEVER saw, nor did he authorize, the letter referred to in the article which was supposedly written to the Minister of Health.
- Mr. Scoon’s general enquiries of the AG were, as are all general enquiries of that nature, redirected to the relevant line Ministries where appropriate.
This morning Mr. Scoon offered his apology to the AG, specifically acknowledged that no legal advice was given by the AG and stated that he regretted the inconvenience caused.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is the proper entity to advise the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service on any matters in relation to the incident which is the subject of Ms. Renne’s article. The AG has no remit in this matter, and will leave the law to follow its natural course.