President intervened to get his “people” promoted as top police officers- Police Service Commission Chairman

Last Updated on Monday, 31 May 2021, 14:00 by Denis Chabrol

Retired Assistant Police Commissioner Paul Slowe

The Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Retired Assistant Commissioner Paul Slowe on Monday alleged that President Irfaan Ali sought to politically influence that body that is responsible for disciplinary action and promotion of police officers.

President Ali was said to be awaiting a transcript of Mr. Slowe’s press conference before issuing a reaction to the claims.

Referring to a telephone conversation on December 23, 2020 with Dr. Ali, Mr. Slowe said the President sounded “agitated and irate” that Senior Superintendents Calvin Brutus and Karim Baksh  had not been shortlisted for promotions. “It was a rough conversation, raised voice, very angry, the President terminated the conversation. That was it,” Mr. Slowe said at a virtual news conference.

Mr. Slowe said it is clear that the administration had wanted the PSC to promote Messrs. Brutus and Baksh to the rank of Assistant Commissioner. Mr. Slowe noted that Mr. Brutus says in a court affidavit that he had obtained a leaked copy of a PSC document showing that he  had not been among those earmarked for promotion.

Mr. Slowe said that the President engaged in “a lot of buttering up” before asking for Messrs. Brutus, Baksh to be promoted.  Mr. Slowe said he has a log of the calls that were made by the President, and he had informed other members of the Commissioners.

The PSC Chairman said in another encounter with the President, he had also told him that he had objected to the Head of the Presidential Guard Assistant Commissioner Edgar Thomas writing to the Commission recommending that several Presidential Guards be promoted. Mr. Slowe said Mr. Thomas was officially “rebuked” about writing to the PSC because any such request for promotions ought to have come from the Police Commissioner. Mr. Slowe said the President had told him that he was “a bit harsh” on Thomas.

Attorney-at-Law Selwyn Pieters, who is representing Mr. Slowe said if the Prime Minister Mark Phillips takes the next step of establishing a tribunal to determine whether he should be removed, the process would be lengthy because all of those cited for alleged political interference would be cross examined. Mr. Phillips has already written to Mr. Slowe and PSC Commissioner Retired Assistant Commissioner Clifton Conway to show cause why they should not be removed because they have been charged with conspiracy to defraud.

Mr. Slowe said he and Mr. Conway have stated in their hundreds of pages of submissions that they should not be removed from the PSC.

Mr. Pieters said the legal team would explore whether the President had misconducted himself by politically intervening in the work of the PSC.

Mr. Slowe further alleged that Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn had written to acting Police Commissioner Nigel Hoppie instructing him to institute legal proceedings against named police officers. They included Edmond Cooper who was charged with dereliction of duty and for Mr. Phillip Azore to be charged with assaulting a number of persons at Splashmins Building during the 2020 elections fiasco.

Dating back to September 17, 2020, Mr. Slowe said efforts had been made to set the groundwork for discussions with the political directorate, initially with the Attorney General Anil Nandlall and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo but those meetings had never been held. Mr. Slowe recalled telling Mr. Mohamed Qualander  that no one could get him to do anything illegal or unethical