United National Congress MP Dr Roodal Moonilal has called on retired Rear Admiral Hayden Pritchard to give details of the role he allegedly played in a probe of police officers.
Pritchard, in return, has recommended Moonilal take his queries to his Parliamentary colleagues in the Government.
The war of words continued after Moonilal brought up Pritchard on Monday, saying the hiring of two private citizens to investigate the conduct of police officers in 2020 was unlawful.
On Tuesday, however, Pritchard fired back in a blistering letter to Moonilal covering various points.
Yesterday, Moonilal responded to the letter sent to his private email.
“My apologies for not recognising initially his Rear Admiralty, as indeed the Rear Admiral was not aware that I go by the title ‘Dr’, which is not conferred via a political process. It’s neither my intention to trade invective and insults, for which I’m also well equipped. There’s no need to exchange resumes or give character evidence. This matter is a very serious one involving the unlawful establishment of a secret two-man squad to investigate the workings of a unit within the structure of the independent T&T Police Service.’’
Saying he felt Pritchard protested too much, Moonilal added, “The inquirers of a secret probe, outside of public knowledge, going on for months, have been exposed in twenty-four hours. Indeed, the Rear Admiral, like NGC’s directors, may consider requesting an indemnity from Keith Rowley for whatever task was undertaken.”
Moonilal said now that Pritchard “has been drawn out in the light and belatedly stepped forward on the secret investigation” into TTPS officers, he should provide pertinent details to taxpayers.
“Mr Pritchard must tell the nation the terms of engagement, including his remuneration, for the clandestine project. For someone touting his proud military background, he should indicate under what law he was retained for the exercise of reviewing confidential police files and interviewing officers.
“The two-man investigating committee had no legal status to undertake any inquiry. The police would have been within their right to chase both gentlemen out of Police Headquarters. The Rear Admiral must indicate who retained him for the stealth project. Was it the Prime Minister or Minister Stuart Young? And whether he felt it was appropriate to be appointed by a politician for such an assignment.”
Moonilal added, “He should state whether he, as Chief of Defence Staff, would have been comfortable with a surreptitious probe into his stewardship, and one conducted outside of the independent administrative and regulatory framework.”
“The much deeper issue, unrelated to the Rear Admiral and his medals,” Moonilal alleged, “Is that Rowley has on several occasions abused the position of National Security Council chairman. This is a policy-making Cabinet sub-committee, not an operational arm of law enforcement. The Prime Minister brought police officers from Barbados to investigate the DSS matter, he had no authority to do so. The Prime Minister cannot investigate the Police Service. He may refer a matter to the DPP or the PCA if he has information that criminal wrongdoing has been undertaken. They can properly cause an investigation.”
He added, “It’s a travesty this Government will expend considerable resources, time and energy to find out how firearms got into the hands of law-abiding citizens but will not inquire how thousands of guns get into the hands of criminal elements.”
He told Pritchard, “My work isn’t a popularity contest. As an Opposition member, I take on powerful ministers and a raging Prime Minister every day of my professional life, I will not be intimidated by a retired sailor!’’
Contacted on Moonilal’s statement, Pritchard first conveyed apologies for not using Moonilal’s title of “Dr” in his response to him on Tuesday. He said this was not intentional.
However, he recommended that Moonilal forward all inquiries on matters of the probe to Moonilal’s “appropriate Parliamentary colleagues who are in the Government.”
“There will be no further comment from me on these matters,” Pritchard added.