Former police commissioner Gary Griffith –
The Court of Appeal will again convene in January to hear arguments against an appeal by the National Security Council, led by the Prime Minister, of a judge’s ruling against laying the executive summary of an audit into the police service firearms registry in Parliament.
On Wednesday, Justices of Appeal Prakash Moosai, Gillian Lucky and James Aboud adjourned the appeal of Justice Devindra Rampersad’s ruling in favour of former police commissioner Gary Griffith in March. On January 30, 2024, the judges will hear arguments by Griffith’s attorneys against the appeal. They have reserved February 6 for replies, if necessary.
Although Rampersad ruled the council had the power to appoint the committee to audit and investigate the grant of firearms by the police over the period 2016-2021, he said the report could not be made public.
“I am of the respectful view that this report is for the Police Service Commission (PSC) and Commissioner of Police. It should not be in the public domain until those authorities decide what to do with it,” Rampersad said.
He also ruled that the report could be considered by the Cabinet as it may assist in guiding possible changes to firearm ownership in TT.
“I think that the Cabinet ought to look at that in relation to its policies,” he said as he granted an injunction barring the public dissemination of the report.
Griffith had complained about the legality of the setting up of the committee by Dr Rowley and his NSC to investigate the police’s firearms department licensing regime, its operations, and the issuance of FULs.
The former top cop, who held the post from 2018-2021, said he was concerned that the contents of the report and the process used by the committee – comprising of retired police officers – were irretrievably tainted by bad faith and illegality because the Prime Minister had no power to appoint such a committee.
Griffith said he feared publication of the report, or any part of it, would expose him to public ridicule and if laid in Parliament, would protect Rowley and the media by qualified or absolute privilege from defamation claims for damages.
Representing Griffith were Avory Sinanan, SC, and Larry Lalla, SC, while Russell Martineau, SC, represents the council.