The Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, went over the heads of the Commissioner of Police and the head of the Special Branch to seek the assistance of acting Senior Superintendent Surajdeen Persad.
She told him on October 11, 2010, that she had concerns about the alleged "illegal activities" of Security Intelligence Agency (SIA) head Nigel Clement, "whom she said was in the process of transcribing tapes that contained her private conversations with persons".
Persad, second in command at Special Branch, replied to the Prime Minister on October 15, 2010, stating Clement had used equipment to spy on her and others in the United National Congress (UNC).
But he went further. He made a sweeping assessment of persons working at the SIA and named 31 persons whom he subjectively determined to be supporters of the People's National Movement (PNM).
These 31 employees of the SIA, he said, had "close links with the PNM and occupy senior and influential positions at the SIA".
Persad suggested: 1) That the director (Clement) and these 31 persons be relieved of their positions "immediately, in order to safeguard the flow of sensitive information to the PNM and other persons linked to Clement".
Legal sources said yesterday that assuming, but not accepting that his assessment of their political affiliation was correct, the recommendation to fire them (which appeared to be acted upon) was in breach of these persons' constitutional rights to freedom of association and enjoyment of property.
Persad's other recommendations were:
2) That an interim management committed headed by Reshmi Ramnarine (technical operator), Carlton Dennie (surveillance operator), Doolam Rekha (special branch acting inspector) and Kerron Ganpat (an analyst at the National Security Council Secretariat) be immediately appointed "to protect the assets of the State until Mrs Julie Brown completes her assignment with Dr Gibran"
3) That the computers at the Intercept Suites Unit be seized and handed over to a forensic expert
4) That head of the Strategic Services Agency (SSA) Michael Maxima be immediately relieved of his position and replaced with Taradath Harrilal.
Eight days after Persad responded to the Prime Minister by letter, the People's Partnership's crackdown on the SSA began- on October 23, 2010—with a 6 a.m. raid on the agency led by the Special Branch.
On November 10, less than one month after he (Persad) recommended it, Nigel Clement, was fired. Persad-Bissessar said in Parliament one day later that the SIA was spying on her, politicians, journalists and even the Head of State, President George Maxwell Richards, under the PNM regime.
In mid-December 2010, 27 others at the SIA were dismissed.
Persad's letter pointed out that Clement had failed the polygraph test for enlistment with the SIA, "however, with the assistance of Brigadier Peter Joseph at the Special Anti-Crime Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (SAUTT), he was given a passing grade and subsequently accepted at the SIA".
Joseph was also fired by this administration.
Persad noted in his letter to the Prime Minister that former acting commissioner of police James Philbert and former acting deputy commissioner of Police Clive Reyes "shared an extremely close relationship with Clement", and Clement was planning "an extravagant function" for them to take place on October 29, 2010, at the SIA.
Philbert was due to demit office on September 30. However, in late August 2010, he was told to pack up and leave office, the letter from the Police Service Commission having arrived just 24 hours before his contract was prematurely brought to an end.
Clement, who has taken legal action against the State, is now engaged in the farming of tilapia and has a consultancy business.
Meanwhile, Persad has been promoted to senior superintendent. He is on vacation. But he also reportedly has been made a director of the National Intelligence Agency, which is due to begin operations very shortly.