State to appeal FUL injunction against PM

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Former police commissioner Gary Griffith. – File photo

THE STATE has advised that an immediate appeal is being filed “urgently” to correct the “errors” of the High Court judge who granted an injunction to former police commissioner Gary Griffith restraining the Prime Minister from publishing any part of a controversial firearm user’s licence (FUL) audit report in Parliament.

On Tuesday, Justice Devindra Rampersad granted the injunction after pointing out that despite assurances that the contents of the audit would not be laid in the Parliament, no undertaking was given of such in court.

In agreeing there was a serious issue raised in Griffith’s claim to be tried, the judge also said, “…The force of the vehemence born out of this report, and expressed in public as alleged by the claimant, suggests that its premature presentation or production would have far-reaching effects in the public domain.”

However, in an immediate response, the AG’s secretariat said an immediate appeal was being urgently filed “to correct errors made” by the judge’s ruling.

The release assured that the AG also assured Griffith that no part of the report would be published by the State or its agencies unless and until all “persons affected by findings” were given an opportunity to be heard and make representation before reporting to the Parliament.

“The facts are and the evidence demonstrates that Mr Griffith was informed that consideration was being given as to whether there were persons adversely affected by findings in the FUL audit report, who may not have had an opportunity to comment and make representations on the matters giving rise to those findings and, if there are such persons, as to what steps ought to be taken to afford those persons an opportunity to comment and make representations prior to the report or any summary being reported to Parliament.”

Griffith has complained about the legality of the setting up of the committee by Dr Rowley and his National Security Council (NSC) to investigate the police service’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, and because of statements Dr Rowley made after Griffith announced the launch of his political party and his decision to reapply to be top cop.

On October 28, Griffith was given permission to pursue his judicial review claim against Rowley, the NSC members, and the retired cops who made up the committee.

Griffith also 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.

He wants the parts of the report that relates to him quashed.