Gary Griffith’s appointment as Minister of National Security will in no way affect the police investigation into his alleged role in the emailgate scandal, according to Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Mervyn Richardson.
Griffith’s appointment now makes him the line minister for the Police Service.
Richardson is the lead investigator into a series of 31 e-mails allegedly linking Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Works Minister Dr Surujrattan Rambachan and Griffith, a former national security adviser to the Prime Minister, to sinister moves to undermine the Judiciary, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the media.
The probe is now more than four months old following allegations made in the Parliament on May 20 by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley against the Government officials.
Richardson and his forensic team have already obtained and kept electronic devices from Griffith to assist them in their investigations.
A high-powered legal team representing the other three officials under investigation has refused to hand over any of their electronic devices to the police unless certain protocols are agreed to.
Griffith is alleged to have received an e-mail on September 10, 2012, from one firstname.lastname@example.org, asking for access to bug the DPP’s office, to be followed by his alleged response the following day that “everything is already in place in the DPP office”.
A September 8 e-mail also alleged Griffith’s involvement in a sinister plot to injure a reporter by digging up dirt, and sending out a poison e-mail about her.
The Integrity Commission on August 30, 2013, announced it has started its own investigations into the alleged electronic mails to determine whether the Integrity in Public Life Act Chapter 22:01 had been breached.
But even so, Richardson told the Express, he felt quite comfortable working with his new “boss”.
“We have been working for quite a long while. We have a very cordial relationship. We worked on a number of projects together and I anticipate we will continue to work to the benefit of country at large,” he said.
“I think our relationship is one that has been fostered over time,” Richardson said, adding that he will continue to do his work.
“I am a professional and he is a professional. We coexist in the same place.
“His appointment will not affect how we go about our investigation into the e-mails in any way,” Richardson said.
Told that there was public perception that by virtue of his new role Griffith could become too close to the investigation into him, Richardson said he did not wish to comment on any perception.
“All I would say is that I am a Deputy Commissioner and he is the minister... that’s what it is, anything else I think you should ask the politicians.”
Profile: Gary Griffith
A former comptroller and attache to former prime minister Basdeo Panday from 2000 to 2002, Gary Griffith resigned from the T&T Defence Force in 2004. The following year, he joined the United National Congress (UNC) as an Opposition Senator.
Also that year, he joined the Progressives slate of the UNC, led by former national security minister Jack Warner, which contested against Team Patriot, led by then political leader Basdeo Panday. Warner contested the position of deputy political leader of the UNC.
In 2006, he again entered the political arena as one of the founding members of the Congress of the People (COP), led by its then leader Winston Dookeran. His position was security adviser.
Following the 2010 general election, Griffith resigned as a member of the COP and became a member of the UNC, led by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, where he took up the post of special adviser to Persad-Bissessar on national security issues.
On June 7, Griffith tendered his resignation from the UNC, without stating the reason(s) for his resignation. The letter was copied to Persad-Bissessar. Despite the resignation, Griffith said he remained adamant in his support for the party.
Griffith has been vocal on a number of issues relating to the Government in the past. His most recent criticism came following the Government’s protocol-blunder during the three-day State visit in early June of the President of China, Xi Jinping.
Griffith, in an e-mail dated June 8, entitled “Poor excuses for protocol faux-pas...”, which was reported exclusively in the Express, said there were too many glaring and unforced glitches, not only at the welcoming ceremony at Piarco International Airport for the Chinese President, but also at the State banquet.
The blistering attack reportedly angered some within the Government.
Not a stranger to controversy, Griffith has been implicated in the ongoing investigation into the emailgate scandal, which is currently engaging the attention of the police and the Integrity Commission.
In 2007, Griffith, while a member of the COP, ran into problems with the T&T Defence Force for appearing in a political ad while wearing an army uniform.
The ad featured prospective COP crime-fighting heavyweights and showed Griffith wearing an army cap and identified as a “Captain...”
Then chief of defence staff Brigadier Edmund Dillon said Griffith, a former army captain, had no authority to wear a Defence Force uniform and no right to have allowed the photograph to appear in the ad. The retired chief said Griffith resigned from the force and was now a civilian and, as such, Griffith ought not be considered a captain.