14 Jan 2005

Samoa deputy PM says cabinet didn't interfere in legal appointment

7:25 am on 14 January 2005

The Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa says cabinet had nothing to do with the Minister for Natural Resources and Environment being appointed president of the Lands and Titles court.

Last week it was announced that Tagaloa Tuala Kerslake would be given the position at the end of the month.

Misa Telefoni says Tagaloa applied for the job, as is the right of any individual, and he got it.

He says Tagaloa was picked by the Judicial Services Commission and Cabinet approved it.

The Judicial Services Commission consists of Chief Justice Patu Tiava'asu'e Sapolu, Attorney General Brenda Heather-Latu and Reverend Mautofu Fuimaono.

However it was the government that had earlier amended the law that restricted those eligible to the position to judges of the Supreme Court.

Tagaloa hasn't held such a position.

The Opposition has raised concerns that a cabinet minister was moving directly to head a court that rules on disputes over authority over land and chiefly titles.

However Misa says Tagaloa has told Cabinet that he would disqualify himself from presiding over cases involving Cabinet ministers.

He says Tagaloa will be resigning as a MP the 31st of this month.