National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds said yesterday that he told acting Police Commissioner Gary Griffith to remain “at bay” until the expiration of his leave on September 20.
Hinds confirmed that in the Senate last night.
He was replying to a motion on the adjournment by UNC Senator Wade Mark who had said there was a need for Government to explain the legal basis for its decision to appoint a two-member committee comprising private citizens to investigate allegations of misconduct against senior TTPS officers.
Mark also said a plan has been “hatched in PNM’s Balisier House“ headquarters to remove Griffith. He said he was surprised to find yesterday that the plot had “thickened” and he queried why Hinds had called on Griffith “not to report for duty until further notice.”
Mark said that wasn’t Hinds’ responsibility but was the responsibility of the Police Service Commission. Mark said if Hinds had really told Griffith that he had to resign immediately.
But Hinds, detailing what occurred, said, “To suggest as Mark did, that this Minister told (Griffith) that he should not return to his desk beyond September 20 is clearly missing the mark as he (Mark) always does.”
Hinds said Griffith had written him suggesting that he return to work approximately one week or sometime before he was due to return from a period of leave.
He said the leave was applied for and Griffith applied to him as Minister as in normal circumstances and the Police Service Commission was informed. The leave was approved.
Hinds said Griffith returned approximately one week before it was due to expire and asked Hinds the following day if he should return to his desk.
“I told him I would revert as I needed to understand the implications of that for his approved leave. Before I could return to him I became aware that he wrote similarly to the PSC and the PSC responded to him suggesting that is a matter for the National Security Minister.”
“And it is on the basis of those two bits of correspondence which having called the CoP, he acknowledged dispatching to the service commission and acknowledged the reply that he was aware that I had received. It was on the basis of that I told him he should remain on leave up to the expiration of same on September 20.”
Hinds said the Ministry’s permanent secretary was present with him at the time and his phone “as normally is the case was on loudspeaker.”
“So the PS of the NS Ministry overheard everything in the conversation.”
He said he told the CoP and repeated it twice to make it “pellucidly clear sufficient for any child to understand....’I am speaking about you staying at bay until the expiration of your leave.”
Hinds said Griffith acknowledged that and went off the phone.
Griffith, meanwhile, alleged, “the Minister told me that he would like for me to remain on leave until further notice.”
However, argued that Hinds was ill-advised to do so.
“Unfortunately whoever advised the Minister gave him wrong advice because a Minister of National Security does not have the authority to send any police officer on leave based on the law and obvious reasons that a politician cannot direct the police in such a way.”
“This has to be done through the PSC and the PSC is fully aware of their role and function where you cannot send someone on leave unless of course there’s a disciplinary matter or there is some investigation that is taking place by relevant law enforcement authorities,” Griffith added.
Meanwhile, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said President Paula Mae Weekes must immediately intervene and ask members of the PSC whether they have taken instructions from a politician.