The five accused in the case involving allegations of financial improprieties at the Ministry of Education and Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) “have a strong civil suit against the State”, according to lead attorney Hugh Wildman.
This after law enforcement agencies earlier this month arrested and charged former Education Minister Ruel Reid, his wife Sharen, daughter Sharelle, CMU President Fritz Pinnock and Councillor Kim Brown Lawrence (Jamaica Labour Party, Brown's Town Division, St Ann) following early-morning raids at their homes in a coordinated strike.
“All the accused persons who were so dealt with have a strong civil suit against the State, and especially in light of what is now emerging about the nullity of the charges where they would have had a powerful case of false imprisonment and malicious prosecution — and that will be possibly millions of dollars, given what they were subjected to,” Wildman told journalists during a briefing at his Corporate Area office yesterday.
The attorney called the briefing following the filing of an application in the Supreme Court for a judicial review by Reid and Pinnock yesterday in respect of the charges brought against them in the St Andrew Parish Court two weeks ago.
He said his clients were not ruling out suing the Government.
“I know my clients are looking in every direction, including that direction,” he said in noting concerns raised by his clients about breaches of their rights, which, he claimed, included officers jumping the wall to the premises of the former education minister's home on the morning in question, and refusing them the right to call their attorney, among other things.
“It goes to show the illegality of the affair. Those things will be very useful later on if (my clients) were to sue… that would go to the quantum of damages that the State could pay,” Wildman said.
In his affidavit in support of the notice of application for leave to apply for judicial review filed in the Supreme Court yesterday, Reid said he had expected that since he and his family had been cooperating with the investigations in the months leading up to that particular day, they would have been called in for a question and answer session with the police, rather than be subjected to another search “where the media was informed and public embarrassment staged while our constitutional rights were breached”.
“The officers decided, however, to do a decoy with the media and a lead vehicle where persons covered up were purported to be Ruel Reid, Sharen Thomas-Reid and Sharelle Reid. We later left in unmarked cars,” the affidavit said.