PM knocks Chaguanas West MP over false claim on Police Service Commission merit list

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. –

The Prime Minister has accused Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally of misrepresenting the facts in a letter to the editor published by a daily newspaper on Saturday.

In the letter, Rambally sarcastically congratulated acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob – who is on vacation for 35 days – on his fight against crime and highlighted several events, and actions by those in authority.

He also stated, “Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has admitted to breaking the law and intercepting the Police Service Commission (PSC) merit list at President’s House.”

In a response, Dr Rowley, in a Facebook post, said it was not the first time United National Congress members accused him of breaking the law and intercepting the merit list. And while he usually ignored them, he could not do so this time.

“I am not unduly concerned about the daily diet of misinformation, but I think the public needs to be spared the wasting of their thoughts.”

He described the statement as a “mischievous falsehood” that started out as speculation but was now being published by Rambally as fact.

“I have said no such thing. What I said is that I received a report on the operations of the Police Service Firearms Unit and I thought it contained information that is pertinent to the work of the Commission and in furtherance of my duty. I gave a copy of the report to the chairman of the Police Service Commission.”

According to Rowley, what he said was that he had never seen the merit list, that no one showed or discussed it with him, and that he did not instruct or advice anyone about the merit list.

In response to the PM, Rambally, on his Facebook page, said he did not make statements lightly, and advised Rowley to reconsider his “last outburst of a release.”

Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally. –

Not directly denying the PM’s claim that he misrepresented the facts, Rambally described Rowley’s post as “bizarre and unhinged.” He repeated his accusation that Rowley intercepted the merit list, calling it a “sinister act” which led to the collapse of the commission led by then chair, Bliss Seepersad.

“Common sense would lead any reasonable-minded person to the logical conclusion that the said collapse of the Police Service Commission and vacancy in the substantive position of Commissioner of Police has had a detrimental impact on crime fighting and which no doubt has precipitated our record-high murder rate.”

In a press release, Gary Griffith, political leader of the National Transformation Alliance (NTA), questioned if Rowley was concerned about the matter and suggested Rowley and the members of the last commission be interviewed.

Griffith, who served as CoP between 2018-2021, has stated before that he was the top candidate on the merit list to be re-appointed before the merit list was suddenly withdrawn from the Office of the President by Seepersad.

He said the withdrawal of the merit list was illegal because, according to the minutes of meetings of the commission, it was done without the permission of the other members, all of whom resigned.

“Having now denied any wrongdoing in the matter, saying he just shared a document, is Keith Rowley as Prime Minister and as head of the National Security Council, concerned about the revelations, exposed about two months ago when minutes of meetings of the Police Service Commission, which were received through freedom of information requests, show that Bliss Seepersad acted unilaterally and illegally, by withdrawing the merit list for the appointment of the new Commissioner of Police?”

“Now that Rowley’s attempt to clear the air, perhaps as a result of legal advice, has been made to the public, it is now clear that present head of the TTPS, Erla Christopher, must immediately act on this information by interviewing all the members of the last Police Service Commission.” Christopher is acting as head of the police service during Jacob’s absence.

Griffith said an official statement should be taken from Rowley and put on record with the police because someone had broken the law. He added that, if Rowley’s statement remained the same, official charges should be brought up against Seepersad.