18 Apr 2011

Tonga Law Society says judge applied English not Tongan law in perjury case

1:57 pm on 18 April 2011

Tonga's Law Society has welcomed the Appeal Court overturning the quashed perjury charge brought against Lord Ramsay Dalgety.

Lord Dalgety, a Scotsman who's lived in Tonga for many years, was the secretary of the Shipping Corporation of Polynesia which operated the ill fated Princess Ashika.

He was charged with perjury after giving evidence at the royal commission of inquiry into the tragedy.

But Justice Robert Shuster had quashed the charge on a technicality - namely that the indictment hadn't been signed.

The law society's president, Laki Niu, says under English law there're statutory provisions to that effect, but under Tongan law there're none.

"The legislation in England, which requires indictments to be signed etc, do not really apply in Tonga. Our law only applies common law and equity, not statutes or general application of England."

President of the Tonga Law Society, Laki Niu.

The Solicitor General, Aminiasi Kefu, says the decision gives certainty, not only for the Crown, but the whole Tongan criminal justice system.