Government employs Baroness Scotland to challenge legality of “unfair”, “biased” Commonwealth intervention

President Mohamed Waheed’s government spent £75,000 (MVR 1.81 million) on advice from former UK Attorney General and member of the House of Lords, Baroness Patricia Scotland, in a bid to challenge the Commonwealth’s “biased” stance on the Maldives.

The terms of reference document for the contract, obtained by Minivan News, is dated May 28, 2012 and is signed by both Scotland and the Maldives’ Deputy Attorney General, Aishath Bisham.  It also carries the official stamp of the Attorney General’s Office.

The Maldives was suspended from the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) – the Commonwealth’s democracy and human rights arm – and placed on its formal agenda after former President Mohamed Nasheed alleged that his resignation on February 7 had taken place under duress.  Nasheed contended he was forced out of office amid a mutiny by police and armed forces, orchestrated by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and funded by several local wealthy resort businessmen.

CMAG swiftly challenged the impartiality of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) established by incoming President Mohamed Waheed to examine the circumstances of his own succession, and called on Waheed to hold early elections to restore the country’s democratic legitimacy.

After a number of countries – including the UK and EU – backed the Commonwealth’s stance, the government was pressured into reforming the CNI to include a member of Nasheed’s choosing and a retired judge from Singapore, GP Selvam. The reformed Commission is due to publish its findings in late August.

“The Maldives government is of the view that the Maldives has been placed on the [CMAG] agenda unfairly, and there is a general feeling that the Commonwealth and the CMAG view points are biased in favour of President Nasheed’s allegation of a coup,” the Attorney General’s office, stated in the terms of reference.

“The specific output expected from the assignment is a detailed legal opinion on whether the Maldives was unfairly placed on the CMAG agenda and whether this continuation of being on the agenda is unfair,” the document states. “In particular, the consultant will assess whether the CMAG had acted in contravention of its own mandate and powers and had demonstrated bias in their actions.”

The brief also calls for Baroness Scotland to “review the work of the Commonwealth Special Envoy Sir Don McKinnon and the staff of the Commonwealth Secretariat”.

The contract called for Scotland to spend four days in the Maldives to “review all necessary documentation as well as video footage of events that led to the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed”, as well as meet “all important stakeholders” including the government coalition, “key figures in the opposition MDP”, Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid and his deputy Ahmed Nazim, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), Elections Commission, CNI, as well as UN Resident Coordinator Andrew Cox.

Both the UN Resident Coordinator and the MDP said they had not had any meeting with Scotland.

“I think I was away on leave at the time, but I am not sure if my office got an approach for a meeting or not,” said Cox.

Elections Commission President Faud Thaufeeq had not responded at time of press.

“We were not even aware of this woman; she never approached us,” said MDP Spokesperson MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.

“Now we hear she was in the Maldives, probably staying in a fancy resort with somebody interesting likely footing the bill. I hope the House of Lords looks into this,” he added.

“It is very disturbing that a member of the House of Lords from an 800 year-old democracy would come to a little banana republic to stir up trouble in league with the plotters of a coup d’état.”

Speaking to local television station VTV, President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza denied the allegations.

“It is not true that the government spent 75,000 pounds on a former British attorney general. It is part of the lies that the Maldivian Democratic Party is spreading,” Riza was reported as stating in Haama Daily.

President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad meanwhile told Minivan News “I think that case was handled by [President Waheed’s Special Advisor] Dr Hassan Saeed.”

“[Baroness Scotland] did consult with us during the time CMAG was pressuring us, and we sought legal advice as to how to proceed,” Masood added.

Dr Saeed and Attorney General Azima Shukoor had not responded at time of press.

Minivan News is also awaiting a response from the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Finance regulation violation

The leaked document also includes a letter in Dhivehi sent from the Attorney General’s office to Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad requesting authorisation for Baroness Scotland’s “unprecedented work/expense” following her visit to the Maldives.

“There was no contract made. With this letter we ask if attached terms of reference are sufficient as a contract,” the AG’s office writes.

“This is in violation of the Public Finance Regulations of 11 February 2009, especially sections 8.21, 8.22 and 8.34 where consultancy work needs to assigned on the basis of a contract with specific terms agreed on matter listed in section 8.22 of the regulations,” observed former Maldives Foreign Minister, Dr Ahmed Shaheed.

Regulation 8.22 states that any award of work to be done for the government must be assigned after signing a mutually agreed contract, while regulation 8.21, concerning ’emergency work’, states that such shall only be assigned “after signing a mutually agreed contract stipulating the price and quality of work to be done”.

Furthermore, said Dr Shaheed, “a simple reading of the [Commonwealth’s] Millbrook Action Programme (1995) and the augmentation of that at Perth in 2011 will make it clear that CMAG can list countries on its agenda when the Ministers feel there are violations of the constitution. So it is a fairly straightforward, and clearly not worth 75,000 pounds.”

The bill for Baroness Scotland’s legal services comes at a time the Maldives is grappling with a crippling budget deficit of 27 percent, a foreign currency shortageplummeting investor confidencespiraling expenditure, and a drop off in foreign aid.

Story breaks in UK press

Baroness Scotland came under fire in the UK press after the story emerged in the Daily Mail. The Mail established that the peer and former Attorney General had not listed the payment from the Maldives on the House of Lords’ register of members’ interests.

“Her entry says she has set up a firm to provide ‘private consultancy services’ but says it is ‘not trading at present’,” the Daily Mail reported.

In a statement, Baroness Scotland confirmed she had been “instructed by the Attorney General of the Maldives to give legal advice”, and slammed the leak of the terms of reference and “all communications passing between myself and the Attorney General, whether written or oral, pertaining to the nature and extent of that advice, as confidential and legally privileged.”

She additionally claimed to have been approached by both the government and the opposition (MDP), and said she had accepted an invitation to chair a roundtable “at which all parties are to be invited.”

“I am a senior barrister with specific expertise in the area of constitutional law, criminal and civil law reform, and am skilled in mediation,” she explained.

Baroness Scotland was previously scrutinised by the UK press in 2009 after she was found to have been employing an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper in her London home.

As the story emerged, MPs from the UK’s Conservative Party – which has long backed Nasheed and the MDP – seized the opportunity to attack the former UK Labour Party Cabinet Minister.

Conservative MP Karen Lumley told the Daily Mail that is was “disgusting that a former British attorney-general should take a well-paid job advising the new regime, which has no democratic mandate. President Nasheed was overthrown in a coup and the Maldives is now very unstable. Many of my friends there have been arrested by the new regime.”

Conservative MP John Glen told the paper that Baroness Scotland should “hang her head in shame”.

“What happened in the Maldives was a military coup,” he said, adding that it was “outrageous” that the former AG should be “advising a regime responsible for ousting a democratically-elected president.”

Former Maldives High Commissioner to the UK, Dr Farahanaz Faizal, described the government’s employment of Baroness Scotland as “absolutely shocking. If the government wanted legal advice to support the AG’s Office, the proper way is to request the UK government bilaterally.”

“To think that someone of her calibre would undertake an assignment to check if Foreign Ministers of Australia, Canada, Bangladesh, Jamaica, and others of CMAG had acted against their mandate is disgraceful,” Dr Faizal said.

35 thoughts on “Government employs Baroness Scotland to challenge legality of “unfair”, “biased” Commonwealth intervention”

  1. Wait and see those who try to cover up these things come up here and say this is BIASED !!

  2. £75,000 is not MVR 181,000.

    Must be over a Million Rufiyaa. Do your maths.

    Thank you for pointing this out. The figure has been corrected. - Minivan News team

  3. I think the currency is converted wrong. Its more than that. may be there is a zero missing. Its in pounds. 75 000 * 23.85 = ??

  4. As a Brit i am repulsed by the actions of this woman. She is of the same breed as all of Tony Blairs cronies, its all about money and personal gain instead of truth and honesty. At least now the plight of my maldivian friends has been highlighted in the UK press and will gain further support for an election that will return you to a true democracy and hopefully a chance to gain freedom in all aspects of the 21st century.

  5. Very true, also, Mr Gayoom is now aware of the outcome; the other day he has declared that he is not going to accept Inquiry Commission report. With this old man around its going to be bloody messy.

  6. Please find below the relevant sections of the Public Finance Regulations 11 February 2009. This is a clear abuse of public money.

    Section 8:21: Contracts for Emergency Work

    Even if work had to be done on an emergency basis, work should be assigned after signing a mutually agreed contract stipulating the price and quality of work to be done.

    Section 8:22 Contract for award of Work

    Any award of work to be done for the government must be assigned after signing a mutually agreed contract. If the contract value exceeds Rufiyaa 25,000, (about 900 pounds) the contract must include the following provisions. For contracts at values less than Rufiyaa 25,000, the contract must include those provisions that the awarding Ministry deems necessary.

    · The manner in which fines will be imposed and deducted from the contract value if the work is not completed on schedule.

    · The manner in which materials required for the work will be obtained or facilitated.

    · The manner in which the work shall be done, and its quality.

    · The manner in which retention money will be deducted, and the period for which it will be retained.

    · The manner in which violations of contractual obligations will be dealt with.

    · The manner in which contingencies not specified in the contract with will be dealt with.

    · Steps to be taken if the work is not progressing in a timely manner.

    · Specification of those matters that require special attention.

    · The manner in which advance payment will be made and recovered.

    · Schedule of payments.

    Section 8:34 Award of Consultancy Work

    The award of consultancy work must also comply with the provisions of section 8:22 above.

  7. These unnecessary costs are at the expense of the national health insurance scheme "Aasandha"! We will see more of this if we do not get an elected Government soon!

  8. All British political parties are as bad as each other. Our current PM David Cameron called Nasheed "my new best friend" but instantly recognised the new government straight after the coup. The Maldives need elections now so the people can choose who is in power.

  9. Is it under her advice that the govt kept saying CMAG had no mandate? How many more such 'consultants' are on the govt's payroll?

    Azima Shakoor should resign immediately.

  10. Azima Shukoor is a dirty scoundrel just like her father. I can remember a close friend of mine telling that her dad has still pending payments to my friends dad. It's been ages that these payments haven't been paid and my friend's dad has passed away; still it's not paid. I can recall how my friend told me the day when his dad showed the log books of accounts while he was merely a young boy. Due to unpaid monies by ppl like Azima's family other families did suffer then and still keeps suffering. Other would know how Azima's father swindled state money in the reign of president Ibrahim Nasir. Azima kept squeezing money out of every opportunity during the term of Nasheed from all anti-Nasheed parties by taking up cases against Nasheed's govt to hinder then government policies. Azima is just like her father and worse; don't have an atom of humanity and would do almost anything for money.

  11. Really??

    Why not use a high and almighty prince from Kingdom of Saudi Arrogance? Its a place where even God had doubts and had to send prophet after prophet, just to teach them something...

    One can only speculate, on the sheer stupidity, ignorance, and arrogance of these people, and of course the frustration of God, when he dished out the Prophets. We know and have seen the evidence of the atrocities that happened in Europe and Africa, Americas in the recent centuries; for God to overlook these in his timelines and having to send prophets to Arabia, would mean these dumb Camels, without a shadow of doubt, easily gather up all Gold Medals in Idiocy, brutality, stupidity, etc...

    God bless the Camels.

  12. The govt had to hire and foot the bill for the mentioned baroness services due to the actions of anni and mdp who only cares about themselves not the nation, compared to the £10 million the government has to pay as a result of Anni crusading against Gayoom, yes £10 million for Grant Thornton what has these hard earned monies of the Maldivian citizens show? Either That Gayoom has been slandered or Anni and Grant Thornton are incompetent with all that money, £10 million, tsk tsk!!

  13. Going through TOR signed between AG and Baroness, it looks as though the required output on her behalf is visit to maldives, meet with key figures, review and advice based on her opinion.

    to do this, she is paid 75,000 pounds over 14 days (of which 4 days were for visits) and 10 days for review.

    This equates to roughly 5300 pounds per day for her work. say she works 7 hours a day on this, thats 765 pounds per hour rate (more than $1100 per hour)




  14. I'm surprised that this is not a bigger scandal in Britain. It wasn't long ago there was a big hooha about MPs abusing their privileges and claiming expenses illegally.

    Dear British people. It's a shame, when a poor country is swindled by kleptocrats and your MPs partake in it; you need to make them responsible.

  15. According to the documents, the work was supposed to begin on 25th May while the agreement was signed only on 28th May.

    ...Shakir is a haadhimathukum?

  16. Why did Nasheed's Administration fail? Same reason as Gayoom regime. Corrupt and unethical dominated the core including Mariya Didi & Rekko Moosa! Same story is happening with Dr.Waheed..The current AG Azima SK doesnt have basic legal experience, just becoz she belongs to a key family close to Gayoom (as Mariya is close to Nasheed in some unexplain reason)!! Both Nasheed, Gayoom & Dr.Waheed is controled by ego, wealth & families! Simple!

  17. Ättention all:

    Conservative MP Karen Lumely, who worked in the Maldives previously branded the Baroness behaviour as DISGUSTING !!!!

  18. According to local media reports yesterday, Nasheed Government had spent $10 million! from Maldivian Government treasury to Grant Thornton to find a fault of Gayyoom/Yameen and in 3 years of forensic accounting work Grant Thornton did not give a signed report that can be taken to a court.

    What Azima did was nothing compared to plunder and blunder done by Grant Thornton. It will good for the British Press to report the dirty and unethical works of Grant Thornton.

    I am sure some people will now be trying to expose the unethical work of Grant Thornton for taking Nasheed's Government for a $10 million ride.

  19. OMG! on Sun, 5th Aug 2012 8:02 AM

    Stolen name from someone ?? >> OMG ?

    Did we saw the news about 10 mill with proof of leaked documents on international websites such as dailymail ? 7500 pound a DAY was a large amount in United Kingdom as well. In UK minimum wage is about 6/hour i guess. Usually a professional will not even get 2000 per month ! Unless if you are not a manager or something !! PER MONTH !! NOT A DAT !! This news made a lots a brits angry as well. You go and read comments made by British people there on dailymail! Azima is shitting POUNDS it seems like. One of the most expensive currencies in the world! Did she dare to reply to any other news site other than haveeru and sun ??

    Do you need the link ??

  20. Azima Shukooru how much you do pay to Criminal judge Ablo Ghazee to win your cases at Criminal Court of Maldives?

    lol so much for being a self-declared high competence lawyer.

  21. @Thaube is lawyer who is obviously jealous of Asima - very likely a young ambitious female lawyer.

    Anyway, if money can be passed to the UK ex-AG as consulting fee, so can funds be given to cops to change gov - both serve as consulting fees.

    Same legal precedent applies.

  22. what would you called for the legal fee that is to be paid to the UK legal firm called " Grant Thornton" which is over 10 million Dollars.

    Was it justified expenses since it was done by Anni. This deal is very similar to GMR deal and there is a reasonable ground to believe that Anni and his associates in UK must have taken huge cut of this deal too.

    I am sure Nasheed will come up with an answer saying that he had no clue of this and infect this must have been done by his finance minister without his knowledge.

    The guy is utter disappointment to the nation and his corrupt deals have drag this country in to 20 years backward in terms of economic growth.

    It is also not yet clear that the legal fee is just 10 million dollars or whether the Maldivian need to pay much more than this. This kind of dodgy deals does not help the country but rather benefits to some of MDP members.

  23. Nasheed government spent US$ 10 million on consultancy to Grant Thornton to trace the alleged embezzled assets by Former Prez Maumoon!

    After spending US$ 10 million on consultancy and millions more on the Special Investigations Commission during a period of three years, Nasheed's administration could not show a shred of evidence to prove these allegations!!

    Now the Maldivian people have to foot the bill for US$ 10 million for "consultancy" when we are unable to pay the salaries of civil servants from the cash strapped Budget!

    Every government is hell bent on spending the budget on themselves and little for the needs of the public. We are spending way too much beyond our means to sustain these politicians and bureaucrats in their fancy life style. The incredible amounts we spend on luxury office buildings for these people and the expenses for their frequent traveling around the world is shameful.

    It is time to radically downsize the government, Majlis, Judiciary and the various bureaucracies including these s-called independent institutions which deliver little or nothing to the Public.

    We need a small government that we can economically sustain to enable it to have any money left for programs that will benefit the public. Our public need to make these money guzzling high spending politicians accountable by throwing them out of office.

  24. Please consider this petition demanding the return of the money to the Maldivian people.

  25. @yusuf. Thanks for the petition.

    Also to show that your are impartial and honest, also include petitions to return the money of

    a) Ruder Finn
    b) Hill and Knowlton
    b) The numerous consultants, Mark Lynass and Rose of New York etc.. (identified in Auditor reports)

  26. This is stunning!

    If Nasheed's government has done things, charge the government!
    But that does not justify and does not allow Azima Shukoor or whoever, to repeat the same act, void it and claim to be free of guilt!

    Azima Shukoor is not only a disgrace to herself and family!

    She is a real disgrace to the nation!

  27. MDP government may have paid 10M or more to someone this does not justify the payment made to this lady.

    If MDP had killed someone it is not a justification for causing grevious bodily harm to someone by the present government.

    Azima just resign please, you do not have the capacity to be an AG.

  28. Hey this is Bhaghee Waheeds government, do you think anyone will resign over corruption or blunders? Hell no his brother in law was promoted for the corrupt deal he made with nexbiz, this is worse than Golhaabos dictatorship.

  29. Few people talks Nasheeds Government had spent 10 m. USD to get advise to Maldivean Gov. Its not Nasheeds own Gov, it belongs to the people of Maldive, it is legal.But Gayoom un-lawful Gov cannot spent a cent to seek advise in any matter..

  30. No surprise. I see also reported here that the Maldives voted in the UN for the disgraceful and completely hypocritical Saudi resolution aimed at destroying secular Syria.

  31. @Angelic Sharown
    A law degree is not required to google and find out that 7500 per day is a ridiculous amount to be paid for legal consultancy.

    please stick to the point and comment in context. what i said is this is a ridiculously huge amount per hour for 14 days of work even if this lady baroness is the most experience lawyer in the world on constitutional reform.

    Even she realized that it is a controversial transaction hence didn't declare it accurately as it should have in her income filings.

    I find it amusing when Azima (the AG of this country) uses Anni's bill of $10million as her defense against spending 75,000 for 14 days legal advice. Does that $10mllion bill have anything to do with her paying 75K to lady baroness of scotland for legal advice? NO!

    secondly, there was no mention of this in the gazette, nor an EOI, was just a straight TOR with the baroness and the deal was sealed within the confines of AG. that is going against the maaliyathu gaanoon and everyone knows it!

  32. Top lawyers of Maldives exposed. When it comes to crunch their true colours prove them incapable of their projected calibre.

    Empty headed lawyers putting on hot hot air as " lawyers".

    Shameful at the beginning and more shameful to know they are not what they claim.Congratulations Attorney G

  33. hahahaha,

    sorry all, but as much as this is tragic, I can't stop laughing about the fact that, all this money n much more, paied to all consultants, just to clean up the face of a man, who's color is permanent
    all this money n much more paied to legalise a daylight theft!!!
    all this money n much more must be paid by PG,AG,MAG,,,!! but from which account???

    this will be a very tough case n till 100 years will fight to get it back!!!!!!



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