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Feb 15, 2024

U.D.P. Chides Briceño Administration over Refusal to Release Cabinet Docs

The opposition is chiding the Briceño administration after Cabinet denied a request from the Senate Special Select Committee. In its request, the committee sought documents pertaining to the Portico Definitive Agreement that were tabled in Cabinet.  News Five is in possession of a copy of one response from Cabinet Secretary Stuart Leslie to the Senate Committee. It says “I have been obliged to seek legal advice on the matter. That advice was sought from the Attorney General’s Ministry. Based on the legal advice received, I regret that I am unable to accede to the request”. As a rule, every member of Cabinet takes an oath to keep Cabinet deliberations confidential. Furthermore, section twenty-three of the Freedom of Information Act prohibits the release of Cabinet documents to the public. Notwithstanding these conditions, a copy of the Portico Definitive Agreement was leaked to the public back in May 2023.But a body like the Senate Special Select Committee that is undertaking such a serious task may not be able to rely on a leaked document for official deliberation.  Today, Michael Peyrefitte, the Chairman of the United Democratic Party weighed in on Cabinet’s refusal to release those files.


Michael Peyrefitte

Michael Peyrefitte, Chairman, U.D.P.

“The committee asked him for the documents that they considered, they looked at, to help the committee do its work and they have just flat-out said no. And, I don’t know what the committee will do from here. Technically it is like this, you have a committee formed to produce and agreement and the government doesn’t even want to produce the agreement. So, how, what does that tell you and the terms of reference were clear, the terms of reference were clear, we want to know what were the circumstances that lead to the signing of that agreement and we want to know what was the circumstances that led to the Prime Minister tabling that set of papers in Cabinet, asking Cabinet to approve a document with accompanying legislation, even after one of the best lawyers in the world told him that that agreement was essentially trash.”


Paul Lopez

“Is it your view then that a request from the senate committee trumps the constitutional convention which indicates that Cabinet papers are considered confidential?”


Michael Peyrefitte

“Show me in the constitution where documents in Cabinet can never be released to the public, show me that.”


Paul Lopez

“Section 23 of the Freedom of Information Act states that Cabinets documents are exempted from disclosure.”


Michael Peyrefitte

“When we were debating the bill, none of the six PUP senators, not even the leader of government business who many like to think is the greatest lawyer since Terry Mason, not even he objected to this because Cabinet papers are confidential and cannot be released to the public based on this particular law. Nobody said that until now, where you get that from? The committee in its request did not ask for a tape recording of the Cabinet. It said, listen the documents that were sent to Cabinet, what are those?”

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