Rowley ordered to appear in court in challenge to Griffith’s FUL report


File photo: Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley.

THE Prime Minister and several of his ministers are due to appear before a High Court judge next month as he considers granting an injunction to former police commissioner Gary Griffith to stop the publication of the controversial audit report on the Firearms License (FUL) in Parliament. .

The order for Dr Rowley, former Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, Ministers Fitzgerald Hinds, Colm Imbert, Stuart Young and Marvin Gonzales to appear in court was issued by Judge Devindra Rampersad on Friday. Griffith sued the Prime Minister and his ministers, as well as retired police officers Wellington Virgil, Raymond Craig and Lennard Charles – who were part of the audit team.

Rampersad also allowed Griffith to pursue his application for judicial review against the nine for establishing the audit committee to investigate the police firearms unit and depriving it of natural justice while also considering to table the report in Parliament.

Rowley and the others are due in court on Nov. 9 when he considers whether to grant the injunction Griffith is seeking.

The former senior police official also wants the court to order the PM and his ministers to release the names of the members of the audit committee and grant statements that the decision to commission the report undermined his rights and was illegal, unlawful and irrational, since they did. no power to appoint the committee.

Griffith is also requesting the cancellation of the report or any part of it that pertains to him. The injunction he seeks is to prevent the publication or tabling of the report in Parliament.

Griffith, who served as police commissioner from 2018 to August 2021, is represented by lead attorney Avory Sinanan and Larry Lalla.

He said that from his experience as a former national security minister, he knew that neither the prime minister nor the National Security Council had the power to appoint anyone to investigate the operations. of the police department. He was therefore concerned about the legality of the audit appointment. Committee.

He also expressed concern that the content of the report and the process used by the committee had been irretrievably tainted with bad faith and illegality because the Prime Minister had no power to appoint such a committee and because statements made by Dr. Rowley after Griffith’s announcement. the launch of his political party and his decision to re-apply to be top cop.

Griffith also fears that publication of the report or any part of it will expose it to public ridicule and, if tabled in Parliament, protect Rowley and the media by qualified or absolute privilege against claims for damages. and libel interests.

The former top cop argues that he was the target of the audit due to the timing of the audit team’s appointment. “… In my humble opinion, as the Committee was appointed in November 2021 and I left as CoP in August 2021, the Committee’s investigations were directly relevant and necessarily involved how I would have exercised my discretion and performed my duties under the Firearms Act during my tenure as CoP.”

Griffith said that from November 2021, when the committee would have been appointed, to July 2022, he had heard nothing about the committee until the Prime Minister revealed he was the “highest ranking” government official. level” who had met with the former chairman of the Police Services Board. (PSC) Bliss Seepersad at the President’s House. This led to the removal from the August 2021 merit list for the position of CoP.

File photo: Former police commissioner Gary Griffith.

Griffith said the information the prime minister admitted to giving Seepersad – which led her not to submit the merit list to the president – was never revealed to her. He said that it was only after announcing the formation of his National Alliance for Transformation (NTA) party that the Prime Minister spoke about the audit report, saying it was “of a disturbing reading.

At the same press conference, Rowley said the summary would be tabled in parliament. but everything else would be sent to the PSC.

But Griffith said he never received the report nor had he had the privilege of seeing it, although it was leaked to the press, allegedly to tarnish his name.

His lawsuit also mentioned Rowley’s statements about Griffith at a political meeting after the contents of the alleged report were reported in the press.

“In these circumstances… I feared that unless restrained, the Prime Minister intended to table the summary or other parts of the report in Parliament, thereby causing direct, unjustified and unquantifiable damage to my reputation and my reputation.

He also said he wrote to the new PSC chair, retired Justice Judith Jones, and the attorney general’s office to release the audit report without giving her the opportunity to see and respond to it.

The CPS, he said, assured him that it would abide by the principles of natural justice both on the content of the report and on the recruitment exercise for a new senior police officer, while the office of the ‘AG gave the impression that the Prime Minister still had control over the report.

Griffith said repeated requests to release the report have been denied.

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