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May 23, 2017

What are Legal Rights of Committee’s Witnesses?

Eamon Courtenay

As the Senate Special Select Committee swims into deeper waters, questions are rising as to what rights do witnesses who appear before it have and do not have. Two of the Committee’s biggest headaches in terms of giving testimony were Barton Middleton and Elvin Penner, who either outright refused or gave evasive answers because they were afraid of incriminating themselves due to the treatment of the Committee taking evidence being similar to a court of law. Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay told us last week he believes that will need to be settled even if it means delaying the inquiry or recalling some witnesses.

 

Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator

“We will have to have this issue, this legal issue, resolved about people coming and saying I will not answer that, and praying in aid certain privileges and certain rights not to answer a question.  Because this inquiry cannot finish until all questions that can be rightfully put are put and answers given. It is not good enough for us to be in a position of uncertainty as to whether this privilege and right exists and people are getting away from it. So as far as Eamon Courtenay is concerned, Mr. Penner is not yet finished. And I will be urging my colleagues that we need to have this legal issue resolved, and if people need to be called back, they need to be called back.”

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