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Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Lucky on leaking of flying squad report: Authority not political entity
Gillian Lucky, director of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), clearing the entity’s name, said the PCA is not a political entity and does not exercise any of its functions with a political agenda. Further, it did not have the power to “clear” any party, as suggested by the Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, she said. “The political connecting of the dots is conjecture on the part of the AG and has nothing to do with the PCA.
“It is the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) only that has the power to make decisions based on the findings and recommendations of the PCA,” she added. Stating there was no breach on the PCA’s part, she said the report into the alleged existence of a New Flying Squad Investigative Unit (NFSIU) was delivered directly to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
“The PCA reiterates that at no time did it furnish a copy of its report to any media house, media personnel or Member of Parliament,” she said. Dismissing the uproar from Government quarters, the police and members of the public, Lucky said the PCA was not obligated to deliver copies of the report to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the National Security Council.
Breaking her silence yesterday after calls for full disclosure on the matter, Lucky, in a PCA release, clarified what she described as “a lot of inaccuracies, allegations and attacks on the integrity of the PCA.” The uproar came about after PNM public relations officer, Senator Faris Al-Rawi, ended up with a copy of the NFSIU report before everybody else, the contents of which he chose to reveal in Parliament.
The Police Social and Welfare Association called for the halting of the operations of the PCA until the source of the leak was determined. The association said whistleblowers were encouraged to give information to the PCA and they were now afraid.
...It can’t be runaway horse—AG
The Police Complaints Authority cannot operate “as a runaway horse” but must be guided by the law, says Attorney General Anand Ramlogan. He was responding to comments attributed to the director of the PCA Gillian Lucky on the remit of the organisation and her criticism of the Police Second Division Association. “It must be fair to the many hardworking and decent police officers who risk life, limb and property to protect and serve our country on a daily basis,” Ramlogan said in a statement last night.
Both Ramlogan and the association have been critical of the PCA following the leaking of a confidential report on the operations of the New Flying Squad Unit ending up in the hands of Opposition Senator Faris Al-Rawi. “That the leaking of this report to the PNM is of no concern to Ms Lucky to prompt an immediate investigation into the leak is disappointing, unsatisfactory and highly suspicious,” Ramlogan stated.
He noted that the PCA was an independent body and as such could not appear to be politically biased. He referred to critical political statements made by Lucky in her Express column and television show to support his view it was inconsistent with the appearance of political neutrality and impartiality as director of the PCA. Ramlogan said the law was clear in that a minister could request the PCA to conduct an investigation.
He warned that the PCA “must be careful that it does not do more harm than good by appearing to be over-zealous in its investigations against police officers. “It must strike the right balance in the public interest so that police officers will not become too fearful about performing their duties,” he added. He repeated his call for an investigation by the PCA and the Commissioner of Police into the leak which had jeopardised and compromised the integrity of the criminal process.
Tobago-based political scientist Dr Winford James, sharing a similar view, said because the PCA was independent, it did not have to submit reports to the PM or any other body. He said the quarrel over who got it first seemed to be one of protocol. On the other hand, he said it may have been idiotic for Al-Rawi to reveal its contents so quickly in Parliament because of the suspicions that would arouse.
He said the report ending up with Al-Rawi would suggest political interference and the integrity of the PCA would be questioned but an important question to consider was how he got it. Political analyst Mukesh Basdeo said MPs have always benefitted from leaks. He said Lucky made it clear the leak did not take place at the PCA but he would not charge political interference until an independent investigation into the matter was done.