Griffith: I’ll step aside if other CoP candidates removed from probes

Gary Griffith. File photo/Ayanna Kinsale
Gary Griffith. File photo/Ayanna Kinsale

SUSPENDED acting Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith says he is willing to step aside to allow an investigation into allegations of corruption into the granting of firearm user's licences and criminal allegations against Christian Chandler. He says this is to avoid any inference of impropriety and interference.

But he wants the Police Service Commission (PSC) also to "level the playing field" by removing four other CoP candidates who have direct oversight of the two investigations, on the same premise: to avoid the possibility of bias.

In a letter sent to Bliss Seepersad, the chair of the PSC, on Friday, Griffith said the PSC should use the same rationale to ask DCP Erla Christopher, ACPs Wendell Williams, Yusuff Gaffar and Andre Norton to go on leave pending the hearing and determination of the two investigations.

Newsday understands that the letter was first sent on Thursday to retired judge Stanley John, who was retained by the PSC to investigate the two matters.

The four officers named by Griffith are also on the PSC’s shortlist of seven candidates on its Order of Merit List completed since August 12. Griffith and Lt Col Sheldon Ramnanan, a former chief legal officer of the Defence Force, are also among the candidates.

While Griffith said he had no reason to believe the four officers would act improperly, just as there was concern raised about his remaining in office, he asked why there were no similar concerns about the other four candidates and why they were not similarly sent on leave.

"I humbly request a level playing field and in the same manner that I have decided to do the honourable thing to recuse myself, then I strongly advise that these four other candidates do likewise."

The latest development comes as the Attorney General admits that he piloted bad law in July to change the process for the PSC to appoint a contract officer as CoP without the approval of Parliament.

The government is now drafting an amendment to Legal Order 183 and intends to convene Parliament shortly to fix the error.

The Prime Minister also admitted to the error during a post-Cabinet press briefing on Thursday and said the government will rely on the legal opinion of retired Caribbean Court of Justice judge Rolston Nelson on the issue.

Correspondence obtained by Newsday showed Griffith's letter to Seepersad agreed with the recommendation to recuse himself pending the outcome of the two investigations, to ensure no claim can be made that he influenced or interfered with the probes in any way.

"Hence, in the same manner, to ensure that me, being someone not deemed as being investigated but solely as a candidate and having some possibility of having access to interfere in the investigation, hence me deciding to proceed voluntarily on leave, then there are four other serving officers who are also shortlisted for the post of CoP, but actually have more direct operational and influential involvement in the two investigations that you are conducting than myself," the letter said.

"He said it was “alarming” that one candidate was an ACP who is actually heading one of the two investigations, and he found this surprising and curious, since: “he can report to you padded, skewed or biased information against other candidates and even to cover his own self, but there is no recommendation that he also go on leave, to avoid possible interference.

In fact, he is now trying to interview me on this investigation, which cannot be right."
In another related development, the negotiations between Griffith's legal team and the PSC have reached a sticking point.

Griffith wants the PSC to rescind the September 17 notice which suspended him from duty.

But if the Attorney General concedes in an unrelated lawsuit that challenges the PSC's appointment of Griffith to act as CoP on August 17, it will pull the rug from under Griffith.
Both matters are now listed to be heard before Justice Nadia Kangaloo.


"Griffith: I’ll step aside if other CoP candidates removed from probes"

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