Gail Alexander

President Paula-Mae Weekes must say if Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was the public official present at President’s House on August 12 when Police Service Commission chairman Bliss Seepersad went to deliver the list of nominees for the post of Police Commissioner.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad- Bissessar made that call at Monday night’s UNC Forum, claiming she had information it was Rowley.

UNC executive member Sean Sobers said the UNC is drafting a Freedom of Information request to find out the identity of the public official

It was reported, in leaked emails from one former PSC commissioner, the official was at President’s House.

The UNC stated the official provided information which so “alarmed” Seepersad that she didn’t deliver the nominee list to the President but PSC then appointed retired justice Stanley John to do fact-finding on issues in the TTPS including firearms users’ licenses.

Persad-Bissessar said the logbook at President’s House will show who visited the residence.

“I call on the President, please clear the air, respond rapidly, was it Dr Rowley? No one is above the law including the President,” Persad-Bissessar said.

“Did her Excellency meet Prime Minister Rowley? If so did that meeting include the PSC matter involving appointment of an acting CoP?”

Sobers said from incoming reports, “We understand there’s some rift in the Cabinet where some people want someone to be Police Commissioner and others in Cabinet want someone else.’’

Persad-Bissessar questioned why Seepersad hasn’t resigned yet – after all three other Commissioners had – as she’s at the heart of the constitutional crisis and why PSC was represented in court matters yesterday when PSC isn’t duly constituted.

Persad-Bissessar braced Weekes with other queries.

“Why did her Excellency not submit the merit list for acting CoP to Parliament as required by law?”

She noted a President can be removed if they breached part of the Constitution.

Persad-Bissessar also queried what legal advice Weekes used to determine that a notification sent to Parliament in June 2020 for (retired deputy commissioner of police Vincel Edwards to be a PSC member) is legal.

She said that was 15 months ago under the last Parliament which was “dead” when the August 2020 general election was called. Persad- Bissesar said she checked all 36 subsequent Parliament order papers and the notification isn’t on any.

Slamming Minister Camille Robinson-Regis’ statements on the issue as erroneous, she said, “It’s ludicrous now to say this was there – 15 months ago. So by your donkey logic, we can pick up anything before an election and say it’s still there?! It’s not there madame!”

Concerns on nominee for PSC Vincel Edwards

Persad-Bissessar said the person named in the notification (Edwards) was an applicant the last time the COP post was vacant when acting CoP Gary Griffith was first appointed. The merit list in the last round was Sr Supt Deodat Dulalchan placing first and Edwards was number 16.

“So there may well be a conflict of interest where people who applied for the job will now be in a position to chose a CoP. This person who placed 16th is now being recommended to choose/evaluate people who placed much higher than him.’’

“He scored 53 out of 100 in the KPMG merit list and serious questions arise; if they proceed with this we may well have some concerns.’’

Persad-Bissessar said UNC will soon bring a no-confidence motion for debate in Parliament against Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi after “bad law” on the CoP appointment issue.

She added the UNC is considering filing judicial review on TPHL’s failure to take the arbitration matter to court on the AV Drilling award. Persad- Bissessar called on Government not to bring the property tax in Monday’s Budget and to given measures to assist people and failing businesses.