The Police Service Commission has indicated its intent to file an appeal over the High Court’s decision in favour of ousted former Police Commissioner, Wendel Robinson.
On Thursday, Justice Ann Marie Smith ruled that the firing of Robinson from the force was unlawful, null and void – as was the appointment of his successor and current top cop, Atlee Rodney.
This latest ruling has thrown the highest echelons of the country’s criminal justice system into a conundrum as it means that Robinson is still technically the Commissioner of Police.
This ruling also now poses the question of the legality of arrests and charges brought against individuals under Rodney’s reign.
It is because of this, that the PSC in a recent press release, said the court’s findings were concerning and has pledged to appeal.
“The Police Service Commission acknowledges the important and indispensable role of the court in the delivery of justice to persons who are aggrieved at the decisions of public authorities. However, the Police Service Commission’s findings on the declaration made by Her Ladyship the Honorable Madame Justice Ann Marie Smith concerning, and on account of this concern, is mounting an appeal against the decision of Her Ladyship,” the release stated.
“Her Ladyship has agreed with the contention of the Police Service Commission that the constitutional motion of Mr. Robinson ought to be struck, but then proceeded to make administrative orders on the claim. The Police Service Commission will ask the Court of Appeal to review Her Ladyship’s decision to determine if such a decision was right in law.”
Upon the court making its pronouncement, counsel for the Police Service Commission immediately applied for a stay of the court’s judgment and order a stay of proceedings pending an appeal, which Her Ladyship the Honorable Madame Justice Ann Marie Smith indicated she was prepared to grant.
A hearing date has been set for March 31st at 11:00 am as Robinson’s counsel was not present on Thursday.
Robinson’s troubles began in April 2018, when he was suspended amid allegations of misconduct. A team of investigators later served him with disciplinary charges.
He has been fighting his case through the courts since, claiming that not only did his firing infringe his constitutional rights, but that it was unlawful to strip him of his pension and gratuity.
Rodney was appointed Commissioner in February last year, three months after Robinson was terminated after three decades of service.
A 2018 High Court ruling had agreed that his suspension was indeed unlawful and ordered that he be reinstated and awarded costs.
However, the Police Service Commission suspended him a second time just hours later, on the basis that he was still facing disciplinary charges. That matter is still being challenged in court.
Meanwhile, Robinson, who spoke with this newsroom yesterday, expressed elation and vindication at Thursday’s High Court decision.
He added that the day had been somewhat an emotional one for him.
“I feel very good about the ruling. Last night, I took some time to reflect and I received numerous phone calls and WhatsApp messages, I took none because there are certain days in the week which I set aside for my spiritual work, so I was in that spirit of seclusion. I prayed and cried. I was elated and not surprised, but it is a pity that persons have to fight so hard for justice and even when they fight, it seems like these unwarranted forces are pushing back, because it was as clear as the daylight that the PSC was wrong and continues to be wrong,” he said.
Robinson tells Observer he believes the reason for his firing is far more sinister than alleged.
“What was put out there generally at first under the guise of sexual orientation, and I will say so publicly, was not actually the case. The point remains is that there is a senior public official who was implicated in an international criminal activity which has caused me to travel to France to deal with that situation as Commissioner of Police. The matter was one involving Peter Virdee, but there were public officials or official in Antigua that were implicated in it, and there was an athletic move to get information from me and I resisted it, on the intent that I would not divulge information which was the subject of an international investigation, and thereafter, the plot begins,” he shared.
Peter Virdee is a British investor who claims that high-ranking Antiguan officials tried to solicit two million dollars from him in 2016.
Robinson agreed that this decision has now put the force into a difficult place as he is still the Commissioner. Despite that ruling, he mentioned that he has no interest in returning in that role.
“The ruling has put the force in a bit of uncertainty as to who exactly is the Commissioner of Police. I knew that once the decision came down in my favour which should have been pretty obvious to everyone that I remain the Commissioner, but I will say this publicly, I have no such interest in going back into the force. I have found it very interesting representing the poor man on the street, but what this decision means and even if it reaches right up to the Privy Council, and if the Privy Council rules that my termination was unlawful, it means that the office holder, Wendel Robinson, remains the Commissioner and is entitled to all salaries, so it is a matter for those persons in authority to make a decision and take leadership in the matter and deal with it,” he said.
Robinson estimates he is owed more than EC$230,000 in gratuity, plus his monthly pension, and on top of that, damages for loss of reputation and career prospects.
Since his ousting from the force, he has returned to the legal field in which he’d trained decades earlier.
Despite the contention with the force, he revealed that he bears no ill will towards current Commissioner Rodney.
April 30 has been set for deliberations and awards for damages.
Observer has reached out to Commissioner Rodney for comment which was not forthcoming up to news time.
However, Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin told Observer he believed the ruling was purely a procedural matter, which would likely be later overturned. He added that he had no information on Robinson’s claims regarding the reason for his firing.