Senator writes DPP to probe Rowley on CoP merit list

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Opposition Senator David Nakhid. –

OPPOSITION Senator David Nakhid has written to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard asking that he investigate the Prime Minister for possible misbehaviour in public office stemming from the rescinding of the police commissioner merit list.

Also writing to Gaspard was former commissioner of police Gary Griffith who called for a probe into why the police failed to investigate his reports on the same issue. He also copied the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) and the Police Service Commission (PSC).

The letters were sent one day after Dr Rowley, in an Express article, confirmed he submitted to then head of the PSC Bliss Seepersad a report which raised concerns about the granting of firearm users licenses under Griffith’s tenure.

Seepersad, who was at President’s House to hand over the police commissioner merit list to President Paula-Mae Weekes to forward to the Parliament, immediately withdrew the list. The ensuing firestorm eventually led to the collapse of the PSC, stalling the process until a new commission was appointed.

Nakhid said in his letter he is of the view that the country’s Constitution was undermined by the two highest officeholders when the list was withdrawn.

He said to not have an investigation will cause the Office of the DPP to be viewed in a negative light by the public.

“Your office may have the erroneous effect of giving life to a view that the Office of the DPP is politically compromised. I close by prevailing upon you to do the needful so as to preserve public confidence in the rule of law.”

Newsday, in an email on Monday, sent three questions to the President’s office asking if she was advised to hold off on addressing the merit list until the report submitted by the PM was ventilated; whether the PM met with her before or after meeting with Seepersad; and whether or not the PM shared his concerns with her regarding the contents of the report.

In response, the President’s office said she has nothing to add to her previous statement, that the list was given to her an rescinded, and wished “to make it clear, at no time will the Office of The President make public any discussion between the President and the Prime Minister.”

In his letter to Gaspard, Griffith said he wrote to acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob on several occasions calling on him to launch a transparent investigation of the issues surrounding the merit list, and to date nothing has been done.

“After several months, there seems to be a deliberate refusal to commence these investigations or possible plans to have it influenced. I say this, as acting CoP Jacob decided to have a senior officer in Special Branch, who is responsible for the security of the Prime Minister and who reports directly to the Prime Minister, to be the sole authority to ascertain if these matters even warrant an investigation.”

He said this “reeks of a possible blatant cover up” adding, that contrary to other investigations, there is concrete information and documentation that improper behaviour took place.

Griffith listed nine areas of concerns regarding the crux of his letters to Jacob. He said the investigation he was asking for from the police is not a difficult one.

In the newspaper article, Rowley also said Griffith was a huge disappointment.

This is the second time the PM publicly expressed his disapproval of Griffith.

In October last year, he said he wrote to the PSC in 2020 saying he had lost confidence in Griffith.

When contacted on Monday afternoon, Griffith said Rowley’s statements were contradictory. He questioned why the government would amend the law to allow him to act as commissioner of police until the process to appoint a substantive one was completed.

“In April last year the law was amended to specifically ensure that I continue as acting commissioner. He can’t fool anyone. If he was disappointed or lost confidence, then all he had to do was let the merit list go to Parliament and veto my name.”

Griffith said the scrapping of the merit list and him being the subject of investigation into the issuing of FULs amounts to nothing more than a “hack job” to discredit him as polls had put his popularity higher than the PM’s and this could have been politically troubling to Rowley and the ruling PNM.

Responding to Guardian Media on Monday, Rowley said he provided pertinent information to the PSC and nothing more. He also defended him confirming that he was the person who met with Seepersad.

“Since when is providing pertinent information to a service commission “interference?

“I am the only person from the Cabinet who, to my knowledge, meets at President House so I don’t know what this mystery “high ranking official” was all about.

“I also said that if I ever have any information pertinent to the business of any commission, then I will not hesitate to make that information available to the relevant commission.

“I have never and will never tell them what to do, but they certainly must have the information that is pertinent to their functions. That is my understanding of ‘independent commission’ and I have the support of the Privy Council in my interpretation.”

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