High Courts grants former T&T commissioner injunction over report

Port Of Spain, Trinidad –The Office of the Attorney General on Tuesday said an appeal would be filed following a High Court ruling that granted former police commissioner, Gary Griffith, an injunction restraining Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley from laying any part of a controversial Firearm user’s licence (FUL) audit report in the Parliament.

“The Office of the Attorney General assures the public that proper process was indeed followed,” it said in a statement.

“The facts are and the evidence demonstrates that Mr Griffith was informed that consideration was being given as to whether there were persons adversely affected by findings in the FUL Audit Report, who may not have an had an opportunity to comment and make representations on the matters giving rise to those findings and, if there are such persons, as to what steps ought to be taken to afford those persons an opportunity to comment and make representations prior to the Report or any summary thereof being reported to Parliament.”

The statement said that the Attorney General, Reginald Armour “assured Mr Griffith that there would be no publication authorised by the State or its agencies of the Audit Report or any summary thereof, unless and until all persons affected by findings therein are given that opportunity”.

It said as a result of ruling by the High Court “the Office of the Attorney General advises that an immediate appeal is being filed urgently to correct errors made by this ruling”.

Justice Devindra Rampersad in his ruling on Tuesday said “the force of the vehemence born out of this report, and expressed in public as alleged by the claimant, suggests that its premature presentation or production would have far-reaching effects in the public domain.

“The court grants an injunction restraining the seventh respondent from laying an executive summary or any part of the said audit report before the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago or otherwise publishing any portion of the contents of same”

Griffith had filed the injunction against Rowley, the seventh defendant as well as the members of the National Security Council (NSC) and an audit committee made up of retired police officers.

The former top cop has asked the High Court to restrain Prime Minister Rowley and his NSC from taking the report to Parliament, challenging the legality of the setting-up of the committee to perform the audit and its investigation. Griffith had also the High Court to quash the report or any part of it that concerns him.

In his argument, Griffith said from his experience as a former national security minister he knows neither the Prime Minister nor the National Security Council had the authority to appoint anyone to investigate the operations of the police service, so he was concerned about the legality of the appointment of the audit committee.

In his lawsuit, he is asking the High Court to grant declarations that the decision to commission the report infringed his rights and was illegal, unlawful, and irrational, since they did not have the power to appoint the committee.

He also says he is concerned that the contents of the report and the process used by the committee were irretrievably tainted by bad faith and illegality because the Prime Minister has no power to appoint such a committee, and because of statements Dr Rowley made after Griffith announced the launch of his political party and his decision to reapply to be top cop.

Griffith,  who served as police commissioner from 2018-August 2021, said he also feared publication of the report or any part of it would expose him to public ridicule and. if laid in Parliament, would protect Rowley and the media by qualified or absolute privilege from defamation claims for damages. (CMC)

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