Police Commissioner Gary Griffith has threatened to sue the Trinidad Express newspaper over a report on his handling of firearms user’s license (FUL) applications.
In a pre-action letter sent to the newspaper’s parent company One Caribbean Media Limited (OCM), late last week, Griffith’s lawyers claimed that the newspaper and its investigative reporter Denyse Renne defamed him in the report, which alleged that a FUL had been issued to a person with convictions for illegal firearms.
“These allegations against the COP are defamatory as they insinuate that the COP is dishonest, facilitates criminality by supplying criminal offenders with firearm licenses, and is biased in favour of donors to the T&T Police Service (TTPS). Such inferences connote the COP as being unreliable and incompetent to act in his capacity,” Griffith’s lawyer Joel Roper said.
“Moreover, there is no justification or truth to such allegations and Ms Renne has not advanced any evidence in support of same,” he added.
Roper also took aim at claims in the report on October 25, that Griffith had favoured persons, who had supported the I Support Our Service (ISOS) initiative, which is the brainchild of Griffith’s wife Nicole Dyer-Griffith.
“Ms Renne’s interest and insinuation that a mere handful of those in the business sector who support the Police, through the ISOS project are in fact doing so only to be granted firearm licenses, is an outrageous and absurd insinuation which seeks to do nothing more than create scandal and is only intended to besmirch the name of the COP and his integrity,” Roper said.
He also noted that after the initial report, his client issued a detailed press release addressing the issues in the interest of transparency. However, he claimed that the newspaper still published another erroneous and malicious report the following day.
“Simply put, even after my client clarified the position, Ms Renne still maliciously published a statement that was totally erroneous, false, and misleading with the clear intent to bring my client into odium, disrepute, and reduce his credibility in the eyes of the public of T&T,” Roper said, as he noted that the reports were the latest in a series of negative reports on Griffith that were published.
“They are unarguably clear attacks on the COP which have adversely affected his personal and professional reputation, which prior to Ms Renne’s statements have been unblemished and impeccable,” Roper added.
Through the letter, Griffith is seeking a retraction, an apology, and an undertaking that similar allegations would not be repeated.
Griffith is also seeking financial compensation for damage to his reputation.
Roper gave the newspaper 14 days in which to respond to the letter before he files the lawsuit.