Private criminal charges…over charges dismissed by DPPBy Vahnu ManikchandFinance Minister Winston Jordan has filed a $200 million lawsuit against Opposition Parliamentarian Juan Edghill, whose private criminal charges against several Government ministers, including Jordan, have since been dismissed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).Finance Minister Winston JordanIn the court document seen by Guyana Times, Jordan is claiming damages in the sum of $200,000,000; for the “Malicious Prosecution of the Offence of Misconduct in Public Office” and other damages.On April 23, Edghill initiated private criminal charges against Minister Jordan and Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson jointly as well as against Public Service Minister Dr Rupert Roopnaraine. The charges against the Ministers allege a breach of the Procurement Act in relation to the expenditure of $906 million in public funds to a private company, Homestretch Development Inc, for the construction of the controversial D’Urban Park Project, which has been a contentious issue for some time now.Jordan and Patterson were jointly charged with misconduct and abuse of public trust for having allegedly authorised the payment, while Dr Roopnaraine, who was a director of the company, was charged with alleged misconduct and the abuse of public trust for having received, in his capacity as director, the $906 million in public funds while serving as minister.However, those charges were subsequently discontinued by the DDP, Shalimar Ali-Hack, who said that in the interest of good governance, such allegations against serving ministers ought first to have been reported to the Guyana Police Force for an investigation to be launched and the advice of the DPP sought.Despite the charges being dismissed, Jordan, in his application to the court, said the private criminal charges filed by the Opposition Parliamentarian was intended to embarrass, humiliate, and cause him to suffer public odium and contempt.Opposition MP Juan Edghill“…the institution of the aforesaid Criminal Charge of Misconduct in Public Office against me were widely reported in the local newspapers, radio, electronic media, and was accessible and circulated on the World Wide Web and I thereafter received telephone calls from family, friends and overseas officials, inclusive of officials employed at international financial organisations… [and as such] I have suffered significant harm to my reputation and integrity as a direct result of the institution of the criminal proceeding by the respondent against me,” Jordan said in the court document.The Finance Minister went on to explain in his application that the $906 million was approved by the National Assembly, and thereafter, made available to the Public Infrastructure Ministry from the Consolidated Fund. He noted that as a Member of Parliament, Edghill could not honestly believe that he acted without reasonable excuse or justification in respect of issuing a Warrant to effect disbursements and allocation of the money to the Public Infrastructure Ministry.“…the respondent was therefore aware, or ought to have been reasonably aware, that the sum of $906,000,000… was approved by the National Assembly’nd as Minister of Finance, I was obligated by Law to issue the necessary warrant to ensure that the said approved sum of money was available to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, and as such there could be no honest belief that I willfully misconducted myself as alleged by the Respondent,” Jordan argued.Furthermore, he pointed out that as Finance Minister, he did not and could not have paid or authorise the payment of the $906 million to Homestretch Development Inc., as alleged by the Opposition Parliamentarian.“…notwithstanding that the Respondent was… a former Minister of Finance within the Ministry of Finance…; even an ordinary prudent and cautious citizen placed as a Complainant in the said Criminal Proceedings of Misconduct in Public Office against me could not have reasonably concluded that I was guilty of the Offence or even draw an inference that I was guilty of the offence of Misconduct in Public Office as alleged…,” Jordan stated.Those private charges that Edghill had initiated where the second set of charges filed by the Opposition that the DPP had thrown out, citing the same reasons.Two days before dismissing the charges against Ministers Jordan and Patterson, the DPP also discontinued charges against Government Ministers Volda Lawrence and George Norton. Those charges were previously filed over the sole sourcing of over $600 million in drugs and other pharmaceuticals for the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, and the rental of a house in Sussex Street, Albouystown, Georgetown to be utilised as a drug bond at a cost of $12M monthly respectively.
160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! NEW YORK (AP) – Even though nine out of 10 people with digital video recorders say they usually fast-forward through commercials, broadcast executives argued Wednesday that doesn’t mean the death knell for advertisers. People with DVRs watch more television, and even if they zip through ads, they notice them, the executives said. Researchers from ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, UPN and the WB took the unusual step Wednesday of appearing together to share data about the impact of DVRs on TV-watching habits. An estimated 7 percent of the nation’s 110 million homes with television have the time-shifting devices. Starting Dec. 26, Nielsen Media Research will begin incorporating DVR data into its ratings. That means it won’t just measure how many people watch “Desperate Housewives” on a Sunday night, but also how many people record it and watch up to a week later. Preliminary data shows that homes with DVRs average 12 percent more television viewing than those that don’t have them, the researchers said. The ability to watch without being tied to a schedule can significantly increase the visibility of programs that might not be appointment viewing. For example, people with DVRs are watching the WB shows “Supernatural” and “Smallville” at more than twice the rate of people without the machines. Yet the industry’s chief fear is that people with DVRs will completely tune out commercials. That’s not completely unfounded: a CBS survey found 64 percent of DVR users said they always skipped commercials and another 26 percent said they skipped them most of the time. A separate study by Forrester Group put the “skip” rate at 92 percent. But Alan Wurtzel, NBC’s chief researcher, said it was an “urban myth” that DVRs make commercials worthless. The networks said their research showed that a majority of people are watching their screens even while darting through the ads, and most of these notice the ads. (Still unanswered is how much these spots are sinking in as they speed by.) More people are also likely to say they skip ads when they actually don’t, they said. “There is a certain amount of commercial exposure that takes place even in the most difficult environment, when people say they are fast-forwarding through commercials,” Wurtzel said. The industry seems split between two extremes – those who believe DVRs will make traditional advertising worthless and those who think they won’t have any effect, said Josh Bernoff, principal analyst for the Forrester Group. The truth will be somewhere in between, he said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if we actually see (advertising) rates come down,” he said. “But this is not the end. Television came in and people still advertised on radio.” The increase in product placement advertising and commercial sponsorship shows how the industry is already preparing for a different landscape, he said. In the short term, the industry must decide how new data on DVR usage will be used in computing advertising rates, said Sara Erichson, a general manager at Nielsen Media Research. In a little more than a month, Nielsen will report different numbers for people watching a show live and people watching recorded versions. The broadcast researchers say they believe the data will convince advertisers – some of whom have already cut back on their television spending – of the value of TV commercials. “We don’t like to say the advertisers are wrong,” said David Poltrack, CBS and UPN research chief. “But we think they’re getting a lot of wrong advice.”