Lawyer suggests a minister might be required to testify in Smith’s case
The trial of former Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Senator Frank Smith took a dramatic twist yesterday afternoon after his lawyer suggested a current government minister might be required to testify.
Keith Knight, QC, made the revelation after informing the court that he received a statement from head of the Anti-Corruption Unit Assistant Commissioner Paul Rolle. The unit was responsible for charging three members of the former government regarding their alleged corrupt practices while in office.
Smith is on trial before Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt over allegations that he demanded and accepted $60,000 in bribes from cleaning company owner Barbara Hanna.
She received a $500,000 contract to clean the Critical Care Block of Princess Margaret Hospital in 2016 when Smith chaired the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA).
During Hanna’s cross-examination on Tuesday, she was questioned regarding previous statements about how police became involved in the matter.
Hanna had claimed that she did not contact police, but Rolle came to her. She has said that she was testifying against her will and felt that she was “being used”.
On Wednesday morning, prosecutor Anthony Delaney said that he would make Rolle available for cross-examination. But Knight complained that it would “amount to trial by ambush” as he had not yet received Rolle’s statement.
During the afternoon session, Knight said, “I have received the statement of Paul Rolle. It answers some questions, but it raises others.”
Knight said: “Having read this, I greater understand aspects of the evidence of Barbara Hanna.
“We would indeed have an even greater understanding of that evidence if we got a statement from a minister of government. I need to know where the pressure comes from.”
When she first testified on November 30, 2017, Hanna said, “They kept calling me. I didn’t go for weeks.”
Knight continued, “Because of that pressure, you’re here today giving evidence?”
“Yes,” Hanna replied.
“Against your will?” Knight pressed.
“Yes,” Hanna answered.
Hanna has not completed her testimony, as Knight decided to postpone his cross-examination until after Rolle takes the stand.
The case continues today.