26 Oct 2004

Fiji Law Society warns PM's office

8:21 am on 26 October 2004

The Fiji Law Society has warned the prime minister's office that it may be close to being in contempt of court if it continues to attribute sinister motives to certain judges.

The Daily Post says the warning follows criticism of certain judges by an unnamed spokesman for the prime minister's office.

The spokesman said elements within the judiciary were hell bent on discrediting and embarrassing the government.

He was referring to a recent judgment by Justice John Byrne declaring the value added tax decree illegal and strong criticism by Justices Nazhat Shameem, Anthony Gates and Gerard Winter of conditions in the remand cells of Suva Prison.

The Law Society president, Graham Leung, has warned that the society will not sit idly by if it is proven that unsuccessful parties to litigation are trying to scandalise the courts.

Mr Leung says like any other litigant, the government has the right to appeal against a judgement it is unhappy with, but it should guard against intemperate criticism of the judiciary.

He says to attribute sinister motives without evidence comes very close to contempt.

Mr Leung has expressed regret that judges are being attacked in public when they do not have the right to defend themselves.