DPP appeals case against Westford, former aide

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The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has appealed the dismissal of the $600M theft charges against former Minister of Public Service, Jennifer Westford and her former Assistant, Margaret Cummings.

The DPP said the notice of appeal was filed in the Court of Appeal on August 30.

This move comes days after Junior Minister of Finance, Jaipaul Sharma blasted authorities for allowing the charges to be dismissed, and called for fresh charges to be laid against the two individuals.

Sharma is reported to have said that it is baffling that the Criminal Investigation Department, even upon the advice from the Police Legal Adviser and the Director of Public Prosecutions, could still have resulted in the wrong charges being instituted.

Westford and her aide were freed after Magistrate Judy Latchman found that the charges were bad in law.

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo last week railed against what he said were attempts by Sharma to put pressure on independent bodies to institute fresh charges against the two persons.

Jagdeo argued that it is highly inappropriate for a minister and a politician to be attempting to influence the judicial process.

“When a Minister puts this sort of pressure, any Minister of the Government calls for a case to be reopened…then they are influencing the technical agencies, let the technical guys decide whether they need to open the case,” the Opposition Leader had stated in response to questions asked at a news conference.

He remarked that Minister Sharma has never spoken so passionately about corruption before, not even in relation to the findings of several breaches of procurement laws at the Ministry of Public Infrastructure by the Public Procurement Commission (PPC).

Jagdeo also contended that Minister Sharma should be the “last one to talk about reopening charges” and “corruption” since it was he who “violated the law” in awarding the contracts for forensic audits without going through the tendering process.

Minister Sharma had noted that Westford should have been charged under the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act, Sections 48 and 49.

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