Television personality Ian Alleyne was yesterday forced to spend yet another night in COVID-19 quarantine as his emergency lawsuit over being detained after allegedly receiving an official discharge was postponed.
The habeas corpus writ calling on Caura Hospital Director Michelle Trotman to justify Alleyne’s continued detention at the facility was filed by Alleyne’s lawyer Gerald Ramdeen, after his alleged discharge was suddenly revoked on Tuesday night.
An urgent video conferencing hearing took place before Justice Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell at around 1.15 am yesterday and she advised the parties to serve the lawsuit on Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram and the Office of the Attorney General. The case was then assigned to High Court judge Ricky Rahim, who held a hearing via video link yesterday afternoon.
Guardian Media understands that during the brief hearing, attorneys Reginald Armour, SC, Rishi Dass and Vanessa Gopaul, who were retained to represent the State, requested time to file affidavits from Trotman, Parasram and other officials from the facility and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).
The State’s legal team was initially seeking to file and serve the documents by tomorrow but Rahim instead suggested midday today due to the urgent nature of the case. The case is expected to come up for hearing at 2.30 pm today.
In an urgent letter dispatched hours after Ramdeen issued a pre-action protocol on Tuesday afternoon, the AG’s Office strongly disputed “factual inaccuracies” in Alleyne’s claims, which were reiterated in a series of videos posted by Alleyne on social media. The AG’s Office claimed Parasram had provided an alternative chronological account of the COVID-19 tests that were performed on Alleyne.
In his letter, Ramdeen had claimed that Alleyne requested a test at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope on March 23 after suffering “mild flu-like” symptoms upon returning from a short family vacation in Miami one week earlier. He claimed that after his client’s initial diagnosis on March 24, he was tested again but was informed that the test was compromised. Another test was administered in early April and returned positive, Ramdeen claimed.
Ramdeen also alleged that he (Alleyne) received his discharge documents after he received two successive negative results when he was tested again over the Easter weekend.
In response, the AG’s Office did not mention the alleged compromised test but noted that Alleyne received his second positive on April 8. While it admitted that Alleyne had a negative test on April 12, it claimed he tested positive when sampled on Monday night.
“It is, therefore, axiomatic that your client does NOT meet the conditions for discharge from quarantine at the present time and that the Executive has at all acted and continues to act lawfully and constitutionally,” the letter said.
The AG’s Office also accused Alleyne and Ramdeen of politicising the issue of his quarantine, as the letter noted that they were both active politicians associated with the United National Congress.
“The combination of your client’s own dissemination of dramatic videos to the public on the night of March 24, after he expressed fear of public embarrassment and the need for confidentiality, coupled with the dispatch of your own letter to the media tonight before delivery to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), can easily lead one to be quite regrettably, that the theatre of public and political spectacle seems paramount to your client,” it said.
The response letter also denied Alleyne’s claim that Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh had personally called him (Alleyne) to inform him that he had tested positive and would have to be quarantined.
“It was Mr Alleyne who in fact informed the Honourable Minister of Health that he had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and that he was afraid of the public embarrassment that could be caused by the spectacle of members of the T&T Police Service (TTPS) taking Mr Alleyne into quarantine pursuant to the provisions of the Quarantine Act,” it said.
Stating that Alleyne did not respond to Deyalsingh’s subsequent phone calls after he undertook to assist, the release said that Alleyne’s voluntary admission was facilitated through communication with Ramdeen.
The AG’s Office also requested that its response be highlighted to a High Court judge in the event that Alleyne’s claims led to “premature threatened action”.
Alleyne is also being represented by Dayadai Harripaul and Umesh Maharaj.
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