Former police commissioner Gary Griffith has given the Police Service Commission (PSC) until noon on Sunday to withdraw its suspension letter dated September 17 or he will be heading to the High Court to apply for judicial review. The judicial review will be filed to declare the suspension null, void and of no legal effect, and for the Court to grant interim relief to stay the suspension until the claim is determined by the High Court.
Issuing the deadline in a three-page letter addressed to PSC Chairman Bliss Seepersad on Saturday, Griffith advised, “In the event that it becomes necessary for me to apply to the High Court for relief, please treat this letter as a Pre-Action Protocol Letter issued in compliance with the provisions of the Civil Proceedings Rules 1998.”
Griffith’s attorneys are led by Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj and include Jagdeo Singh, Larry Lalla, Alvin Ramroop, and Kristy Mohan.
In the letter which he received late on Friday, Griffith said the PSC had made it clear it was acting in the interest of the T&T Police Service (TTPS) and the public by ordering him to cease with immediate effect from reporting for duty, until further notice.
Griffith stated in his letter, “In this regard, I wish to say at the outset, that the Commission has thereby unequivocally bound itself to the narrow jurisdiction of acting in the public interest and in the interest of the Police Service. It is noteworthy that you have confined your requirement of representations, only to the decision to suspend.”
The former COP, in his letter to the PSC head, stated that he had not been provided “with any particulars of any allegation or evidence against me in my conduct as Commissioner of Police.”
Referring to their letter dated September 1, in which Griffith was informed the PSC had initiated an investigation into the allegations of corruption into the issuance of Firearms Users licences and the handling of the reported incident at sea involving the TTPS’s Head, Legal Unit, Christian Chandler, Griffith said, “The Commission held the view that those matters touch and concern corruption and or impropriety in the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and should be investigated.” Retired Justice Stanley John headed that probe.
However, Griffith underscored, “It is noteworthy that in no correspondence has the Commission informed me that I am the subject of any of these investigations or that there is any allegation of wrongdoing made against me in relation to any of these investigations in my capacity as COP.”
“I, as COP, am not under investigation by Justice John’
Following receipt of the PSC’s letter on September 1, Griffith said he had been contacted by John on several occasions and had provided all assistance requested which included access to all relevant information; the opportunity to interview any police officer John wished; and access to all records.
“However, at no time did he make, or ask me to respond to, any allegations whatsoever against me or the performance of the functions of my office,” Griffith stated.
Griffith included correspondence from John on September 18 which indicated that his remit “does not involve an investigation into your good self as COP (Acting) …” Griffith said this was “self-explanatory”.
“It would be plain and beyond doubt to anyone reading that letter, that I, as COP, am not under any investigation by Justice John.”
He claimed it was clear from the PSC’s letter of September 17 that, “The Commission made its decision to suspend me on the basis of the investigation which it ordered to be conducted by Justice John. That is the sole basis on which the Commission purportedly exercised its powers to suspend me in the purported interest of the Police Service and in the public interest.
“The letter of September 17, 2021, pellucidly demonstrates that the Commission mistakenly persuaded itself that the Stanley John investigation in and of itself, is a basis for suspending me. Justice John, in the said letter, has informed me that the remit of his investigation does not include an investigation into me as COP. As such, the entire basis upon which the Commission purported to act and exercise the power of suspension has been wholly, entirely and irretrievably undermined.
“The Commission must have known that the remit of Justice John’s investigation did not include any investigation into me as COP. As such, when it purported to exercise the power of suspension, it knew fully well that the suspension was done outside of the remit of Justice John’s investigation. Therefore, the Commission had no jurisdiction to suspend me on the basis of this investigation.
“The Commission’s decision was an illegality, irrational and in breach of the rules of natural justice, null, void and of no legal effect. In the circumstances, I call upon the Commission to withdraw immediately, the letter of suspension, because on its face, having regard to the contents of the Stanley John letter dated September 18, 2021, the same has been shown to be null and void and of no effect.”
Griffith challenged the members of the Commission to exercise their duty to ensure that a decision is taken by the PSC to withdraw the suspension.
‘My appointment is until a substantive CoP is appointed’
Meanwhile, Griffith speaking to Guardian Media earlier, said National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds was the one who had contacted him and told him to stay at home until further notice.
As the acting Commissioner of Police, he said, “My appointment is with effect from August 17, 2021, until a substantive Commissioner of Police is appointed.”
Regarding the temporary appointment of Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mc Donald Jacob who had been acting COP during Griffith’s absence from the country until September 20 or earlier if so advised, Griffith added, “On my return, all I did was simply inform the Minister of National Security and the Police Service Commission that I am ready to resume duty as I was back in the country.”
Advised by the PSC to liaise with the minister because it was via the ministry that Griffith’s leave had been granted, he said “It was the Minister who contacted me and told me to stay at home until further notice.”
Griffith expressed concern that confidential information was being leaked to certain members of the media.