Lutchmedial: Is Cummings trying to intimidate police?

Jayanti Lutchmedial-Ramdial. - File photo
Jayanti Lutchmedial-Ramdial. - File photo

OPPOSITION Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial-Ramdial says the announcement during a media conference on June 8 that Youth Development and National Service Minister Foster Cummings will be suing the State over the leaking of a Special Branch report in 2022 is an attempt to intimidate the police.

On May 5, 2022, Lutchmedial-Ramdial read the contents of the one-and-a-half page report on a political platform, saying the minister was under police investigation. Cummings has since filed claims of libel and slander against her, which are pending in the High Court.

At the media conference on June 8, Cummings's attorney, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, said the minister’s claim against the State was for the breach by its agents to allow the confidential information contained in the Special Branch note to be published to an opposition senator.

Maharaj said that amounted to a breach of Cummings's constitutional right to privacy and amounted to the civil wrongs of misuse of private information and breach of confidence. He added the publication of the note caused the minister reputational damage and caused him and his family distress and embarrassment.

Maharaj said Cummings was anxious to “correct the false personal information stated in the secret Special Branch note which then became part of the police records,” after the Commissioner of Police failed to do so.

Maharaj also noted the police had not contacted Cummings to answer any of the allegations in the report, although it says investigations are ongoing.

In response, Lutchmedial-Ramdial said Maharaj's media conference had “reminded the country that, to date, Minister Cummings has not been cleared of the allegations contained in an intelligence report which was leaked to me.

"Why the minister thought it necessary to blow the trumpet and announce that he is going to sue the State because the Commissioner of Police refuses to ‘clear his name’ is beyond me.”

She said Maharaj had “made it clear police were still investigating the contents of the intelligence report.

“How can a person’s name be cleared if there is an ongoing investigation? Does Cummings have more rights than every other citizen who is the subject of a police report? Or is this threat of litigation a thinly veiled attempt to pressure the commissioner of police to close the investigation because we are entering an election year?”

Lutchmedial-Ramdial wondered if the matter was still under investigation only because she had made it public in 2022.

“No one has the right in my view to demand that a report be removed from the records of the police service if an investigation is ongoing. No one has a right to demand that a report be given priority or to dictate the time line within which the police must investigate.

“If the minister thinks that the whistleblower who leaked the report violated his rights and he wants to sue the State then he can file his claim like thousands of other aggrieved citizens do every year. This is nothing new or special.

“In the meantime, I would hope the independent TTPS (Trinidad and Tobago Police Service) continue to do their job with the due diligence that is required and not feel pressured to prematurely terminate an investigation because of the threat of litigation.”

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"Lutchmedial: Is Cummings trying to intimidate police?"

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