AG defends decision to appeal Griffith’s injunction

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

COME CLEAN SIR: Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC.

ATTORNEY General Reginald Armour, SC, on Wednesday defended Government’s intention to appeal against an injunction granted to former police commissioner Gary Griffith, preventing the Prime Minister from laying in Parliament any part of a controversial firearm user’s licence (FUL) audit report.

Armour also believed the decision to grant the injunction was wrong.

Justice Devindra Rampersad granted the injunction to Griffith on Tuesday.

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 firearms department licensing regime, its operations, and the issuing of FULs.

Griffith was concerned that the contents of the report and the process used by the committee – comprising retired police officers – were irretrievably tainted by bad faith and illegality because Dr Rowley 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 police commissioner.

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, Rowley and the media would be protected by qualified or absolute privilege from defamation claims for damages.

In response to a question from Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein in the House of Representatives, Armour said Government had filed notice of appeal against Rampersad’s ruling on Tuesday.

“An application for an urgent hearing was filed today.”

Opposition MPs thumped their desks when Hosein asked Armour to provide the fees paid to state attorneys with respect to this appeal.

As their desk-thumping subsided, Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George said, “I consider that (question) out of order, based on the question asked and the answer given.”

Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal asked Armour if it was an appropriate use of taxpayers’ money to pay state attorneys to challenge the injunction granted to Griffith, “bearing in mind the judge’s intention to give a final decision in this matter in three months, by March 2023.”

Moonilal’s initial attempt to ask the question was interrupted by inaudible comments from the government benches. Before allowing him to ask the question, Annisette-George reminded all MPs that she will determine the relevance of the question.

She advised then to allow Moonilal to “exercise his right and responsibility as a member of Parliament.”

In response, Armour said, “It is an appropriate use of taxpayers’ money to challenge a decision which is patently wrong.”