In the recent Parliamentary debate on ‘gang legislation,’ the Attorney General’s fashionable suit was worn with care.
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AG on leaked Flying Squad report: No action without PCA copy
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan says the National Security Council will not and cannot act on the Police Compliants Authority (PCA) report on the New Flying Squad Investigative Unit until it receives an official copy from that body. He made the statement to reporters after delivering the opening address at a United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) workshop on judicial and prosecutorial integrity at the Courtyard Marriott, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
He said: “The Government cannot act on a report that it does not have. We have not had a copy of the report so we do not know who is implicated, why they were implicated and what was the motivation.” Ramlogan warned that if the Government was to rely on newspaper articles on the report, which might contain inaccuracies, there would be serious repercussions.
He also questioned statements made by the PCA’s director Gillian Lucky and PNM Senator Faris Al-Rawi at a meeting of a parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Tuesday, where they both denied that the document was confidential. Al-Rawi refered to the report while speaking in the Senate two weeks ago and claimed the documents had been leaked to him. While speaking to the committee Lucky accepted that the report was leaked but denied it was done by anyone in the PCA.
“It is a paradox that you can have a document that contains highly sensitive information but yet still it is not confidential,” Ramlogan said. He suggested that Al-Rawi should have recused himself from the parliamentary committee as he had an apparent conflict of interest. The issue was in fact raised during the meeting. However, it was overruled and Al-Rawi was allowed to stay on and contribute. “It is clear what he was going to do by sitting there is acting in a self-serving manner to further promote his own interests,” Ramlogan said.
He also took issue with Lucky’s statement before the committee where she said that although the report was leaked, such an occurrence was not a threat to national security. He said she was not authorised to make such an assessment as that fell within the purview of the National Security Council.
“What you have here is an allegation that former national security minister Jack Warner was accused of setting up a paramilitary organisation, known as the Flying Squad, within the bosom of the Ministry of National Security and that was going to operate parallel to the Police Service outside of the legal framework. If that does not have implications for national security I don’t know what will,” Ramlogan said.
He accused both Lucky and Al-Rawi of labelling the report non-confidential to attempt to deflect attention on the issue of its illegal dissemination to the media. He claimed that Al-Rawi had changed his version of how the report reached him several times since he first raised it in Parliament. He again defended the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) while stating repeatedly he was certain the leak did not emanate from there.
“I have said as a matter of public record I did not think the leak occurred from the office of the DPP because the DPP has dealt with far more politically sensitive and other kinds of sensitive reports on matters of national security and there has never been any leak from that office,” Ramlogan said. Refering to a letter he sent to acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams calling for an investigation into the leak of the report, Ramlogan said he felt that a confidentiality clause in the PCA’s legislation had been breached.
“Under the Police Complaints Authority Act any evidence or information the PCA obtains, the law deems it to be confidential. “It further has a corresponding provision that if there is a breach of such confidential information then it is a criminal offence, the punishment for which is a five-year jail term and a fine. So it is a very serious matter,” Ramlogan said.