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Bar Talk
3 April, 2003  
"You are a conman!" - Stuart Meredith 'Keys' Littlemore's adventures in PNG

It was steamy in the tropics as Stuart “Keys” Littlemore cross-examined a Papua New Guinea MP at a commission of inquiry in Port Moresby. Unfortunately, things got out of hand and there was an awful bit of name calling

Nice to know Meredith “Keys” Littlemore makes a lasting impression wherever he goes – and not just in Kilminster Lane.

Here’s a first rate piece of cross-examination from Littlemore during an inquiry into the sale of the central bank of Papua New Guinea, PNGBC. Our man is acting for the bank and he had PNG member of parliament Peter Yama in the box for a forensic evisceration.

Things got off to a scratchy start with Yama demanding an apology from Meredith who had upset him by describing his earlier non-availability at the inquiry as “playing ducks and drakes”.

Yama accused the marvellous silk of calling him a duck. Needless to say, it was all downhill from there, ending with Yama calling Meredith a conman.

Justinian publishes these excerpts from the Post-Courier in Port Moresby:

“Littlemore (Q): I have some questions, Mr Yama. I am going to ask you questions on behalf of the central bank.

Yama (A): Sure.

Q: Mr Kamit. (Wilson Kamit, Governor of Central Bank).

A: Yes.

Q: You understand?

A: Yes. Chairman, before I answer Mr Littleman’s questions, I want him to apologise to me by calling me on the media as a duck because…

Q: As a what?

A: Nobody in this country will go to Australia or any country for that matter in an inquiry and call a leader of a country you know, and making sarcastic comments or you know, calling him a duck. I am a leader constituted by the people of this country. I am a leader of this country and none of my countryman will call me duck.

Chairman of the commission of inquiry Marshall Cooke QC interrupted to understand how and where the word ‘duck’ had come from, but Mr Yama snapped back, saying: ‘Now chairman, I will not answer his questions unless he apologises to me.’

Mr Yama then switched the topic and apologised to the commission for not appearing before the inquiry because he was pressed with other matters which he had wanted resolved first before appearing before the commission.

His reasons were accepted by the commission.

Mr Littlemore again turned to the witness and said: Mr Yama, you are not due any apology from me and I am not offering you any apology. Do you understand that?

Yama (A): Well I do not recognise you.

Littlemore (Q): Well I do not care if you do or not, Mr Yama.

A: I call you a little man here. In your country, you are a big man.

Q: I will ask you some questions now.

A: Go ahead.

Mr Littlemore asked Mr Yama whether it was disgraceful for him to make comments in Parliament that traduced the reputation of people without any basis. Mr Yama denied saying such disgraceful comments.

A: It is not disgraceful. I have the right to ask questions…what I believe is right.

Q: On no basis?

A: In the interests of the people of this country.

Q: On no basis?

A: In the interests of the country and the people of this country because I am elected to do so.

Q: On no proper basis?

A: Not you.

Q: Answer the question, would you?

A: I have already answered.

Q: You say it is not disgraceful?

A: I have told you already.

Both Mr Yama and Mr Littlemore went into a heated ‘question-and-answer’ session when Mr Yamas lawyer John Poro objected to the line of Mr Littlemore’s questions, and told the inquiry the comments by his client were made in Parliament and therefore were privileged. The commission agreed and told Mr Littlemore to concentrate on his client’s interest.

Mr Littlemore continued and asked whether Mr Yama had any facts to substantiate his claims that a particular person (named) was a ‘conman’.

Mr Yama answered by way of a question: ‘Have I called him a conman?’

‘Yes,’ Mr Littlemore replied.

It was at this point Mr Yama was asking the questions. ‘Where is your evidence?’ and the lawyer said: ‘I am asking you the questions.’

‘Get your evidence right,’ Mr Yama responded.

‘Do not ask me questions, Mr Yama,’ Mr Littlemore warned but the leader continued saying Mr Littlemore should get his facts right.

At that point, the observers at the inquiry were jeering and making comments against Mr Littlemore, who could not asked (sic) the inquiry chairman to direct the public to observe silence.

The men went at it again.

Q: Well is it not a wild allegation to say to somebody that he is a conman?

A: These days, chairman, even good man becomes conman, so you never know.

Q: Well that is a good thing to be, is it, a conman?

A: Well, everybody is a conman anyway.

Q: Are you a conman?

A: No, you are a conman. (He said as he pointed at Mr Littlemore).

Q: Are you a conman? (Mr Littlemore maintained his line of questioning).

A: I think you are a conman.

Q: Answer my question, (Mr Littlemore demanded).

A: I believe you are a conman, (Mr Yama answered almost immediately after the lawyers question).

Q: Well that is your belief but I am asking you for a fact. Are you a conman?

A: Well, I am not a conman, but you are a conman.

Q: You are not. But it is good thing to be a conman, is it?

A: Well, conman makes a lot of money.

Q: You make a lot of money?

A: I struggle in business with K300 bucks to be a millionaire, but good conmen overnight become millionaire like yourself.

Mr Littlemore then called the name of another person whom Mr Yama had claimed to be a conman and further put to Mr Yama whether he had proof of his allegations.

Mr Yama replied: ‘You would be a better person to know because you come from Australia – they hired you’.”

Another triumphant day for Stuie in the tropics.