12 Feb 2010

Tonga's former Attorney General hits back after criticism by Prime Minister Sevele

4:02 pm on 12 February 2010

Tonga's former Attorney General and Minister for Justice, 'Alisi Taumoepeau, has dismissed criticism from the Prime Minister over why she was sacked last year.

Dr Feleti Sevele recently said that Ms Taumoepeau was asked to resign because she misled Cabinet over advice he claimed challenged the King's constitutional authority to appoint an independent Attorney General.

Dr Sevele claims that Ms Taumoepeau also concealed the truth to cabinet over her submission in 2008 for the renewal of the Chief Justice's contract , which the Government did not support.

But Ms Taumoepeau denies the claims, and repeated her statement made to the Commission of Inquiry into the sinking of the Princess Ashika that she had been asked to resign because the Prime Minister did not like the advice she gave him.

She says she has never questioned the authority of the King, and says Dr Sevele misunderstands the constitutional roles of the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister, regarding the appointment of judges.