Former police commissioner Gary Griffith is accusing Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds and acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob of being hypocrites.
His accusation came yesterday in response to Hinds’ denying that he ever recommended be granted a Firearm Users Licence (FUL) during a Joint Select Committee (JSC).
During the meeting, Hinds was asked by committee member Dr Roodal Moonilal whether the Prime Minister, Ministers and MPs should be barred from recommending individuals for FULs.
Moonilal’s statements were hotly refuted and he eventually chose to move on from the question. However, before the meeting ended, Moonilal again raised the question, this time telling Hinds, “Earlier, I asked the question on the policy issue on whether Ministers ought to be recommending persons for FUL. You indicated then you had no recollection of recommending persons. Minister, I am inviting you to reflect on that and correct yourself.”
Hinds interjected although Moonilal complained he had not been allowed to complete his question.
“The member is now rehashing something that went earlier when I was not able to complete my statement. The member is now saying conclusively that I said I did not recommend anyone for a firearm and then the other part of the question is should Government ministers be allowed, he is raising it,” Hinds said.
Moonilal interjected, saying he was inviting Hinds to collect himself.
But Hinds continued, saying, “I don’t have to correct myself… I am saying I have no recall of recommending anybody for any firearm and I would like to hear what he has to say.”
Tempers continued to flare as Moonilal said, “Minister, on a more relaxed reflection, you recommended ten persons for firearms to the then Commissioner of Police and I leave it at that.”
JSC chairman Keith Scotland intervened, saying the question had been answered but Hinds interjected again.
“Mr Chairman, I want the record to read I made no recommendation to any commissioner for anybody for any firearm, I can explain in greater detail but it would be risky and foolish and stupid and I will not follow that trend,” Hinds said.
In an interview with Guardian Media after the meeting, Moonilal said he took issue with Hinds’ statements, as he claimed to have been given evidence Hinds had sent messages to former CoP Griffith asking about FULs for members of his security detail.
Guardian Media was sent screenshots between one person whose contact was saved as “Hinds Fitsgerald 1” and an unnamed person.
One of the messages from the contact saved as “Hinds Fitsgerald 1” states: “Commissioner, I have a couple FUL applications for my security detail of soldiers. There is no objection from their Warrant and the TTDF. I have watched them now for two years and I am satisfied that they are fit and worthy. They rotate with the CJ’s detail as well. Please give them your most favorable consideration. Should I send them directly to you? Thanks you.”
In response, the unnamed person responds, “Sir. Yeah.” and “Just whatsapp full name with reference number.”
Several of the messages were blacked out.
When asked about the source of the screenshots, Moonilal declined to answer.
“It’s just as if I asked you to state your source, you wouldn’t do that, would you?” he said.
He said throughout his political career, he had made recommendations for about 25 people to get their FULs.
“It’s the same way I would recommend people on the forms to get passports, as a Member of Parliament, people ask you and you recommend based on people’s needs. My issue is not that he (Hinds) made recommendations, it is that he has lied to a Joint Select Committee of Parliament,” Moonilal said.
He said he was giving the National Security Minister until noon today to apologise to the Parliament and to correct the record.
These screenshots were sent to Hinds by WhatsApp last night and Guardian Media asked the Minister to confirm or deny whether he had sent those messages. He did not respond.
Griffith weighs in
Also weighing in last night, Griffith accused Hinds of being a hypocrite.
“The hypocrisy by the three mouse-keteers of Keith Rowley, Fitzgerald Hinds and Mc Donald Jacob, it is mind-boggling. These three individuals give the impression that recommending persons for firearms or law-abiding citizens acquiring firearms is the worst thing,” Griffith said.
But he said all three have recommended applicants in the past.
“These three individuals cannot in any way, say that they were not instrumental or being a part of trying to assist persons, many persons in acquiring firearms. And nothing is wrong with that,” Griffith said.
He said he had no issues with those recommendations, as it would be up to the Police Commissioner to do “due diligence” to determine whether an applicant would qualify for a FUL.
“But the hypocrisy is that it is okay for you to make lots of recommendations for your close friends and the rich and famous but then when the law-abiding citizen, sometimes the most humble farmer, a person who is involved in trying to see about his small business…it becomes an issue. It shows hypocrisy at its fullest,” Griffith said.
Responding to questions on crime in the Senate on Tuesday, Hinds said legally issued firearms have now been identified as an issue, with 108 reportedly used in criminal offences. Yesterday, he clarified that those offences ranged from losing a firearm and a firearm being stolen and the data was from 2017 to 2021. However, he did not retract his earlier statement that legally issued guns were a concern to the police.