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[UPDATED] GARY’S MISCHIEF

Duke writes DPP on top cop statements

Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith at the closing ceremony to mark the end of the visit of the USNS Comfort at the Port of Brighton, La Brea, yesterday. PHOTO BY LINCOLN HOLDER
Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith at the closing ceremony to mark the end of the visit of the USNS Comfort at the Port of Brighton, La Brea, yesterday. PHOTO BY LINCOLN HOLDER

AN ATTORNEY for embattled Public Service Association (PSA) president Watson Duke, who is facing a sedition charge, has written to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard complaining about comments made by Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith to a newspaper, on Duke’s charge.

As part of his complaint to the DPP, attorney John Heath accused Commissioner Griffith of mischief by commenting on a case which is before the courts in contravention of the sub judice rules.

Heath who is one of a battery of attorneys representing Duke who has declared his intention to demit office as PSA president to focus on election politics, sent a pre-action protocol letter to DPP Gaspard on Griffith’s remarks as contained in a story published in the Trinidad Express newspaper.

Duke was charged on August 28 with making seditious statements. In the letter, Heath cited an interview between Griffith and journalist Ria Taitt about Duke’s alleged remarks which led to the sedition charge.

According to the article in that newspaper, Griffith told the reporter: “Do you know what Watson Duke said? He said if he had to ignite a bomb and detonate the bomb to have his way, he will do so. In what developed country can a man make a statement like that and no action is taken?”

Describing Griffith’s remarks as quoted in the story as “troubling,” Heath said those were not Duke’s exact words and he called on DPP Gaspard to advise Commissioner Griffith accordingly.

“The words attributed to Mr Duke (in the newspaper report) do not form any part of the particulars of the charge that was read to him by the learned magistrate. For ease of reference, I have also enclosed the Notice to Prisoner provided by the police,” Heath stated in his letter to DPP Gaspard.

“Secondly having been shown the video footage and heard the audio, I cannot recall any such words being attributed to Mr Duke. Thirdly, if the words attributed to Mr Duke by the Commissioner do not form part of the particulars of his (Duke) charge on the one hand and have mistakenly attributed to Mr Duke on the other hand, then the Commissioner has committed the very mischief the sub judice rule for centuries has tried to avoid.”

Heath also said the head of the Police Service ought to have known such remarks cannot be encouraged or condoned relating to matters actively before the courts. When contacted for comment, Commissioner Griffith was unconcerned, saying since Heath’s letter was not addressed to him, he sees no need to comment on it.

However, senior police sources took issue with Heath’s letter to the DPP saying if the lawyer was so concerned over Griffith’s remarks possibly prejudicing Duke’s sedition case, he should also have addressed a similar letter to leader of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union Ancel Roget and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who have also made public pronouncements on Duke’s arrest and court appearance. Efforts to reach DPP Gaspard for a comment proved futile as calls to his cellphone were not answered.

This story was originally published with the title "Duke's attorney sends DPP pre-action letter" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.


John Heath, one of the attorneys representing outgoing Public Services Association (PSA) President Watson Duke, has sent a pre-action protocol letter to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard.

This is in relation to remarks made by Police Commissioner Gary Griffith on the seditious comments allegedly made by Duke.

Duke was charged on August 29 with making seditious statements.

In the letter, Heath cited an interview between Griffith and the Express newspaper on September 3, in which Griffith told interviewer Ria Taitt about Duke's remarks.

According to the article, Griffith told Taitt, "Do you know what Watson Duke said? He said if he had to ignite a bomb and detonate the bomb to have his way, he will do so. In what developed country can a man make a statement like that and no action is taken?"

Describing Griffith's remarks as "troubling," Heath said those were not Duke's exact words and called on the DPP to advise the commissioner accordingly.

"The words attributed to Mr Duke do not form any part of the particulars of the charge that was read to him by the learned magistrate. For ease of reference, I have also enclosed the Notice to Prisoner provided by the police.

"Secondly having been shown the video footage and heard the audio, I cannot recall any such words being attributed to Mr Duke.

"Thirdly, if the words attributed to Mr Duke by the Commissioner do not form part of the particulars of his charge on the one hand and have mistakenly attributed to Mr Duke on the other hand, then the Commissioner has committed the very mischief the subjudice rule for centuries has tried to avoid."

Heath also said Griffith should have known such remarks cannot be encouraged or condoned relating to matters before the court.

Newsday contacted Griffith, who said the letter was not addressed to him and he saw no need to comment on it.

However, senior police accused the attorney of hypocrisy, saying if he was so concerned over Griffith's remarks prejudicing the case, he should also have addressed his letter to leader of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union Ancel Roget and opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, as they also commented on Duke's arrest and court appearance.

"What they (Roget and Persad-Bissessar) did was subtly use certain parts of Duke's statements and also left out the damning remarks he made. If they were so concerned about sub judice, they should have included them in the letter."

**Duke's 'seditious' remarks**

Remarks allegedly made by president of the Public Servants Association (PSA) Watson Duke, at a rally at the Telecommunications Services of TT (TSTT), Edward Street, Port of Spain, on November 16, 2018.

"So when America was fighting Japan, Japan never bomb, starts the war, America retaliate with one big bomb and that was it. War done. We could march from now every day, every day, every day. What marching does is call attention to the nation as to your problem, which I believe the nation already know.

“Now I tell you what I want you all to do, you know, because unless you’re not prepared to do that, each of you must internalise what this means to you and your family. Doh go and take no licks and sit down quiet home, you know,

"And we have to be aware that we must be prepared to die, folks. You know why? This is your belief, this is your family, and I tell you the message is clear, you know. Leh Rowley them know that the day they come for us in WASA, we are prepared to die, and the morgue will be picking up people, because when men and women are prepared to die, people does recognise the level of a conviction. Trust me,

"We have to become people of conviction. I doh support – forgive mih language – jack--- behaviour. I am king march. I love to march. Buh you see me? I looking for a bomb, something to end the fight.

"Me ain’t in this this long march thing again. I want to done the fight and the day they come for us in WASA, I’m going to tell them prepare to collect some bodies in the morgue, and I may be one of them, because when I take up this duty, my duty was simple: to protect and represent my employees.

"We talking conviction. I does get emotional when I talk them things, you know, because me ain’t in no marching, marching thing because I tell you straight, me not in this stupidness up and dong whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. That can’t change nobody mind,

"The day they come for my people, we go have act with conviction, you know, and they go know they better prepare the morgue and they better prepare to answer to United Nations and the world: ‘How come dem people die? For what reason?’ I bet you it go stop."

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