Police, Express reach agreement in court

Police officers leave Express House on Independence Square, Port of Spain after conducting a search. - Ayanna Kinsale
Police officers leave Express House on Independence Square, Port of Spain after conducting a search. - Ayanna Kinsale

POLICE and local media house One Caribbean Media – parent company of the Trinidad Express newspaper – have given certain undertakings on information stored on computer servers at its head office at Express House in Port of Spain.

The promise was given after the judge hearing an injunction application filed by the Express last week said he was concerned about the wide scope of the injunction.

Justice Frank Seepersad is presiding over the injunction application and a legal challenge by the Trinidad Express against the execution of a search warrant at Express House on March 11. It was part of an investigation to determine who leaked information on an investigation involving then acting Commissioner of Police Irwin Hackshaw.

Justice Kevin Ramcharan granted an emergency injunction hours after the search. There was no return date on the injunctive proceeding, which was transferred to Seepersad.

On Tuesday, at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain, attorneys for the police and the media house came to an agreement on the computer servers at Express House. The police have agreed not to search, inspect, remove or copy any data on the servers as it relates to information pertaining to a publication of an investigation involving Hackshaw.

One Caribbean Media has agreed not to remove any data from the server.

Seepersad is expected to give his decision on the media house’s legal challenge on July 13, once the timetable for filing of affidavits and submissions is kept, given the restrictions in place for covid19.

At the hearing, attorney Rishi Dass, who appears for the Commissioner of Police, said the police were cautious and stayed within the parameters of the Proceeds of Crime Act in obtaining the warrant and conducting their search.

He expressed concern that a valid police investigation could be prejudiced if the injunction were continued.

Senior Counsel Sophia Chote, who leads a team of attorneys for the media house, said her clients had several concerns about the police’s access to information on the servers, especially since the company was a publicly traded entity, and there were other companies which fall under the OCM banner.

She said the company was not seeking to prevent the police from investigating anyone once there were reasonable grounds to do so.

“We do not intend to obstruct any police investigation,” she assured.

Seepersad said the issues raised in the challenge were important in law and involved the freedom of the press and the greater public good of the protection of rights.

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