|AG: LUCKY WRONG |
By JANELLE DE SOUZA Wednesday, April 23 2014
THE war of words between Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and Police Complaints Authority (PCA) director Gillian Lucky continued yesterday when hours after Lucky told a Parliament Joint Select Committee (JSC) that a PCA report on the alleged existence of a new Flying Squad, was not confidential, AG Ramlogan fired back saying she was wrong.
On April 8, Opposition Senator Faris Al-Rawi in his contribution to the Finance Bill in the Senate indicated he was in possession of both the Police Service (TTPS) and PCA reports pertaining to the new Flying Squad and referenced the TTPS report. He later claimed the reports were left in his mailbox by an anonymous donor.
Al-Rawi’s revelations triggered a firestorm of condemnation by Government officials, with Ramlogan saying the leak of the confidential report to the Opposition was tantamount to treason while National Security Minister Gary Griffith said such a leak was a threat to national security.
Even the Police Social and Welfare Association (PSWA) weighed in on the issue with its president Insp Anand Ramesar calling on Lucky to step aside while the police investigate the source of the leak of the report.
However, at yesterday’s sitting of the JSC at the Parliament Building, International Waterfront Centre in Port-of-Spain, Lucky made it clear before JSC members — including Al-Rawi — that the leaked report was not a confidential one and there was no risk to national security.
This however, flew in the face of a PCA press release issued on April 13, in which the authority stated: “The PCA is greatly concerned that public comments made on the matter have placed highly sensitive information in the public domain while deliberations are still on-going.”
Lucky yesterday stated that confidential documents could be categorised as classified or highly classified. The classification determines who and how many persons have access to information, what information they would have access to and how the information would be stored to ensure it could not be accessed by others.
Therefore she said, based on its contents, what was already in the public domain and what the report spoke to, it was not categorised as a confidential document and could have been put in the public domain. This was not done, she said, because the PCA wished to focus on coming before the Joint Select Committee, which was originally scheduled for March 21, 2014.
“I assure this Committee that the contents of that report do not speak to any threat or risk to National Security,” Lucky told the committee. “The PCA could have, if it so chose, made this report public because that is a matter for the PCA.
However, Lucky’s statement yesterday to the JSC, goes against a press release issued by the PCA on April 16, when the PCA stated: “The Association and the public are assured that the PCA holds itself to its statutory obligation of confidentiality and that information obtained during the exercise of its functions has never been the subject of any breach.”
Lucky yesterday told the committee, “It was a decision taken by the Authority not to call a press conference, which it could have done, and not to make copies of the report available to the public because the PCA was of the view that we were coming before this Committee on March 21. There were things we had to get ready in terms of crunching the numbers and getting relevant information,” Lucky said.
But in a release issued two hours after the JSC meeting ended, Ramlogan expressed “shock and confusion” at Lucky’s statements given that PCA legislation calls for that organisation to be a confidential body.
Ramlogan’s release then quoted from a section of the PCA Act, stating, “Section 21 (4) of the PCA Act states that all information and evidence obtained by the PCA in the performance of its duties is confidential and it is a criminal offence for anyone to disclose such information punishable by five years imprisonment.”
Ramlogan, in his release, also revealed that he has written to acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, asking for a formal police investigation into the leaked Flying Squad report.
Lucky told the JSC if there was a risk confidential information could get into unauthorised hands, PCA protocol dictates the confidential information not be placed in the document.
“There are certain things that remain the purview of discussion, as in this instance, between the DPP and the PCA because we are well aware of risks that occur,” she said. Ramlogan however countered this by stating: “The report had names, dates, witness statements...it was clearly classified!”
Lucky stated at yesterday’s JSC meeting that on April 8, when Al- Rawi announced that he was in possession of the Flying Squad reports, he specifically referred to one report stating it was produced since December 2013. She said he could not have been referring to the PCA report because the PCA report was only completed and delivered to DPP Roger Gaspard and an unnamed Senior Counsel attorney retained by the PCA, in February of this year.
Lucky has admitted there was a leak of the PCA report, but denied it came from the office of the PCA. She said all persons who had access to or contributed to the report were interviewed and a staff meeting was called to remind PCA staff members of the confidentiality and disclosure documents they signed.
“Ms Lucky inferred that Al- Rawi’s statements in Parliament could be a reference to the report from the Police Service alone. It is unfortunate that this was not clarified or corrected by Al-Rawi who was present at the meeting. He perpetuated this false impression by his silence,” said Ramlogan in his release.
“The conflicting and contradictory postures from Senator Al-Rawi and Ms Lucky serve to reinforce the need for an investigation by senior officers in the Police Service who were not hitherto connected to this case. It is also a matter for the Integrity Commission should investigate,” Ramlogan added.
Lucky also declared there had been no incidents in which confidentiality was breached and added that it was the first time that a document generated by the PCA was leaked. However, at a press conference two Mondays ago, PSWA deputy president Insp Roger Alexander claimed the Flying Squad report was not the first breach by the PCA.
“Previously information was handed over to persons in that organisation and persons would communicate to you and tell you of the information that you handed over,” Insp Alexander claimed.