Deadline passes with no reply to embattled top cop

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Up to the close of the business day yesterday, the Police Service Commission (PSC) had not responded to a letter from suspended Commissioner of Police Wendel Robinson who demanded an immediate reinstatement and to know who signed his latest suspension letter last week.
In the letter to the PSC, dated October 30, Robinson, through his lawyer, Sir Richard Cheltenham, also warned the commission of further legal action for damages following the ruling of High Court Justice Godfrey Smith who agreed with him and ruled on October 26 that his first suspension on April 5 was unlawful.
The attorney wrote, “We would be grateful if you would advise, by Friday 2nd November, 2018, who signed this letter and whether he/she was authorised so to do. Finally, we would appreciate having disclosure of the minutes of the meeting at which the decision to suspend the Commissioner was made.”
On October 26, OBSERVER media reported that the embattled police chief won his challenge against his suspension of April 5 and moments later he was suspended for a second time. The first suspension was done pending an investigation into allegations that Robinson made unwanted sexual advances towards three of his male subordinates and then sought to punish at least one of them who allegedly rejected those advances.
That probe was done in August and in early October, he was slapped with five disciplinary charges of discreditable and oppressive conduct. Two weeks later, he won the challenge to that first suspension but his celebration of victory was short-lived as the PSC suspended him again that day.
That second suspension was done pending a hearing of the same recently filed internal disciplinary charges.
But, Robinson’s lawyer has noted that Justice
Smith’s ruling clearly points out that the laws/Regulations under which the probe was done and upon which the new suspension is hinged, do not apply to the post of Commissioner of Police.
The lawyer said, “The question of the applicability of the Regulations on which the disciplinary charges are based has been determined by the High Court and that decision is binding on the Commission. In the events that have happened please be advised that the Commissioner will be seeking both exemplary and aggravated damages against the Commission.”
Robinson’s attorney said the Commission’s conduct in this matter continues to be oppressive, arbitrary and/or unconstitutional. It is also unreasonable, the lawyer said.
Sir Richard also used words such as “unconscionable” and “unwarranted” to describe the charges and suspension, while he noted that the suspension is without an end-date.
 Therefore, he has asked “the Commission to resile from the unlawful course on which it has embarked and restore the Commissioner to his substantive post with immediate effect.”
He said that anything to the contrary is disrespectful to the court and disregards the judgment of Justice Smith and an attempt to erode the rule of law in Antigua and Barbuda.
According to him, another error was that the charges against Robinson were laid by Special Constables who have no authority to lay or prosecute disciplinary charges under the Laws of Antigua and Barbuda.
Robinson, through his lawyer, argued that the police service commission has once again failed to afford him his right to natural justice.
He alleged that he was never given a chance to defend himself and he has not even seen the report regarding the probe into his conduct and the charges that resulted from it.
“The Commission has also, once again, failed to afford the Commissioner the most basic of the natural justice rights – the right to be heard before a step averse to his interest is taken. The Court noted at para. 50 that the loss of his office can [be] viewed as a penalty and made reference to the huge publicity which this case has attracted,” the letter to the PSC read.
Still, further, the Commission had again failed to advise the Commissioner of the procedure which it intends to follow in his case, Sir Richard noted.
Late yesterday, attorney Dr. David Dorsett confirmed to OBSERVER media that the commission, which he represents, had not yet responded to Robinson’s letter. He explained that the legal team received the letter earlier this week and there just wasn’t enough time to meet since it was served on Wednesday and Thursday was a holiday.
He said in “due course” the commission will respond.

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