Saturday, February 24, 2018

Lucky: PCA report not confidential


Not confidential: Gillian Lucky

Mark Fraser

The report of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) into the New Flying Squad Investigative Unit was not a confidential document. And nothing in it had implications for the national security of Trinidad and Tobago, nor would its disclosure have caused “major convulsions”.

 In fact, the PCA could have published its findings because the report did not meet the threshold bar of confidentiality, as do other matters currently before the PCA.

This, in a nutshell, was the position of PCA director Gillian Lucky yesterday as the Authority appeared before the Joint Select Committee (JSC) at the Hamilton Maurice Room, Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain. 

The PCA director was grilled on the leak of the PCA’s report on the New Flying Squad. But she was ready with the responses, which were at odds with many of the things stated by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan. 

The PCA report identified Garvin Heerah, current head of the National Security Operations Centre, as the man who was instrumental in facilitating the operations of the illegal Flying Squad.

 The PCA report was prepared and presented on February 28. On April 8, People’s National Movement (PNM) Senator Faris Al-Rawi, during his contribution in the Senate, referred to the report, which was carried exclusively in the Sunday Express of April 13, along with the report of the Police Service on the Flying Squad.

 This leak of what the Attorney General described as confidential reports was deemed by him to be “tantamount to treason and a subversion of the State”.

However, Lucky stated yesterday: “The document is not confidential. And we must not mistake a confidential document, hundreds of which we have in the PCA and have been dealing with over the years, that have never reached into the public domain; and a report (on the Flying Squad) which based on its contents...could have been put in the public domain. I assure this committee that the contents of that report do not speak to any threat or risk to national security.”

 She noted that retired policeman Mervyn Cordner had previously disclosed the information on the operations of a Flying Squad.

Lucky also stressed that there was no evidence to “suggest, show, prove or indicate...that there was any leak emanating from the PCA”.

She said as soon as she heard Al-Rawi’s statements in the Senate, she contacted him.

 But Lucky noted that having read the Hansard record of his contribution, “it seemed not to be the PCA report he was referring to because he referred to a report dated December 28, 2013 (i.e. the Police Service report). The report of the PCA was never ready and presented until February 28”. 

However, Lucky stated that “erring on the side” that Al-Rawi came into possession of the PCA report, the PCA reminded staff members about the protocols that are in place.

 She said she also contacted her foreign counterparts—IndeComp Jamaica, National Association of Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement—and sent e-mails to all the contacts she had made over the last three years, stating what had occurred and asking their suggestions for treating with the matter.

 Lucky said all the organisations said that one had to look at the systems in place and determine whether further “tweaking” or an upgrade was necessary.

 She said officials of IndeComp Jamaica would be coming to Trinidad and Tobago in this regard.

Lucky said she was not required under the PCA Act to provide the Minister of Legal Affairs, who is assigned responsibility for the PCA, with a copy of the report.

 She said the PCA was not “investigating” the issue of the Flying Squad, it was “gathering evidence” which could be used in the prosecution of a police officer or other persons.

Asked by Minister Ganga Singh who were the other recipients of the report, Lucky said the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and a Senior Counsel retained by the PCA. 

“The PCA did not give the report to any member of Parliament, any member of the media or to any body outside of those authorised to be in possession of it,” she said. 

Before the JSC meeting began, its members held a meeting in camera.

 Government member Stacy Roopnarine said Government members wanted Al-Rawi, who is a member of the JSC, to recuse himself from the deliberations.

 Al-Rawi refused because he said he did not think that there was a conflict of interest.

 Asked by Al-Rawi whether there was any “patent demarcation” of the report as confidential, Lucky responded in the negative.

 Asked by Al-Rawi to comment on the Attorney General’s statement that the report could only have been placed in his mailbox if it was the size of a dustbin, Lucky said the PCA did not want to get into the discussion on mailboxes or bins, even though some of the conversation might be better placed in one of those receptacles. 

Lucky appeared to handle herself well and seemed to be on top of the information throughout the meeting.

 This caused chairman of the committee, Elton Prescott, to comment that she dealt with the issue “admirably and satisfactorily”.

 Many of the members of the committee such as Dhanayshar Mahabir, Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, Gerry Hadeed, Al-Rawi and others complimented Lucky at the end of the meeting on the manner in which she addressed all questions—both those on the leak as well as matters relating to the general performance and operations of the PCA.