Former police commissioner Gary Griffith has filed his lawsuit against the Police Service Commission over its (the commission) decision to allegedly suspend him pending an investigation into allegations of corruption related to the issuance of firearm user’s licences (FULs).
Guardian Media understands that Griffith legal team led by Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj filed his judicial review lawsuit, this afternoon.
In a brief interview, attorney Larry Lalla confirmed that in the lawsuit, Griffith is claiming that the PSC’s decision was arrived at in a manner that was unfair. Griffith is also claiming that his rights to natural justice and protection of the law, under the Constitution, were breached.
As part of the lawsuit, Griffith is seeking an injunction staying the Commission’s decision and reinstating him pending the determination of the lawsuit.
Guardian Media understands that the case, which Griffith’s lawyers are seeking to be heard urgently, has been assigned to High Court Judge Ricky Rahim.
A hearing to determine the injunction application was yet to be fixed, up to a short while ago.
Griffith’s move to file the lawsuit comes after the Commission stood its ground after Griffith threatened legal action on Saturday.
In his legal letter sent to the commission’s Chairman Bliss Seepersad, Griffith claimed that the move, communicated in an email on Friday evening, was illegal, irrational, and in breach of the rules of natural justice.
Griffith suggested that his suspension was solely based on the Commission initiating an investigation into the issuing of FULs and the handling of a recent incident involving the head of the T&T Police Service (TTPS) Legal Unit Christian Chandler on September 1.
Former Appellate Judge Stanley John was appointed to head the investigation, which allegedly arose out of a separate probe by retired Rear Admiral Hayden Pritchard and retired Senior Supt Arthur Barrington, initiated by the National Security Council (NSC). The Police Complaints Authority has also begun an investigation into the allegations.
“It is noteworthy that in no correspondence has the commission informed me that I am the subject of any of these investigations or that there is any allegation of wrongdoing made against me in relation to any of these investigations in my capacity as CoP,” Griffith said in the letter to the PSC.
Griffith noted that he had been contacted by Justice John on several occasions and provided all the assistance he (John) requested including records and interviews with police officers.
“However, at no time did he make, or ask me to respond to, any allegations whatsoever against me or the performance of the functions of my office,” Griffith said.
Griffith pointed to correspondence from Justice John, dated September 18, in which he (John) allegedly reiterated that investigating Griffith was beyond his remit.
“This is indeed self-explanatory. However, it would be plain and beyond doubt to anyone reading that letter, that I as CoP, am not under any investigation by Justice John,” Griffith said.
Referring to the Commission’s correspondence to him on Friday, Griffith suggested that it ought to have known that he was not subject to the investigation.
“As such, the entire basis upon which the Commission purported to act and exercise the power of suspension has been wholly, entirely and irretrievably undermined,” Griffith said.
The dispute with the Commission over the issues comes after Griffith had a public spat with National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds after he (Hinds) allegedly instructed him (Griffith) to remain on leave after Griffith enquired about resuming his acting duty on Tuesday.
Griffith has claimed that Hinds acted outside his remit.
The Commission is currently barred from completing the recruitment process for the next police commissioner as former head of the Police Social and Welfare Association acting Senior Supt Anand Ramesar has obtained an injunction against it.
Ramesar’s substantive lawsuit reportedly stems from the Commission’s decision not to select him to join other candidates in the interview stage of the recruitment process.
The injunction will stay in place until October 24, when High Court Judge Joan Charles, who has been assigned to preside over Ramesar’s substantive lawsuit, is expected to host a hearing of the case.
At that time, Justice Charles would decide whether to discharge the injunction or extend it pending her final determination of the case.
Social activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj has also filed a separate claim suggesting that Griffith’s acting appointment was not properly done because Parliamentary approval, as with the appointment of a substantive commissioner, was required.
Maharaj’s lawsuit is scheduled to come up for hearing before Justice Nadia Kangloo, tomorrow morning.
Griffith is also being represented by Jagdeo Singh, Alvin Ramroop, Michael Rooplal, and Kristy Mohan.
Reporter: Derek Achong