Unlawful dismissal of top cop brings Police Service Commission into disrepute

Wendel Robinson
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By Latrishka Thomas

[email protected]

Days after a High Court judge declared the firing of former Police Commissioner Wendel Robinson to be unlawful, the competence of the Police Service Commission has been scrutinised.

On Sunday, three pundits shared their opinions on the body’s capability.

One guest on Observer’s Big Issues programme, Ambassador at Large for the Global Organisation of Parliamentarians Akaash Maharaj, even stated that “the Police Service Commission is collectively incapable of discharging its responsibilities”.

The saga began in April 2018 when Robinson was suspended by the Commission amid allegations of misconduct. A team of investigators later served him with disciplinary charges.

A 2018 High Court ruling agreed that his suspension was indeed unlawful and ordered that he be reinstated and awarded costs.

However, hours later, the Commission suspended him a second time on the basis that he was still facing disciplinary charges. That matter is still being challenged in court.

On March 25, Judge Ann-Marie Smith declared that the appointment of the current Commissioner of Police Atlee Rodney was “unlawful, ultra vires, null and void”.

Maharaj said he believes that the Commission must be made accountable for its apparent negligence.

“When all this is over, I find it difficult to believe that the Police Service Commission can survive. I think whatever the final resolution to this matter, the members who would have led the country down this path where they have created a situation of chaos as a result of negligence on their part -and that’s not my judgement; that is the judgement of the court – they have to stand aside for people who are prepared to act in a competent fashion,” he said.

Vere Browne, an attorney and a former Commissioner of Police in Antigua and Barbuda, shared similar sentiments, calling for the members of the Commission to be fired.

“The public from this decision now have reasonable grounds to view the Police Service Commission as being not capable of exercising their duty under the constitution,” he said.

“Two, the powers that be should ask each and every one for their resignation within a prescribed time. Three, the state now will be left with a financial burden to settle Mr Robinson’s damages,” Browne added.

Maharaj also called for an investigation to be conducted to determine the validity of Robinson’s claims that his removal was politically motivated and came amid a conspiracy to remove him as he had potentially damaging information about high-ranking public officials.

“There should be a commission of inquiry that is carried out either by Parliament or by an independent body as a part of the final settlement of these affairs and that should include an investigation into why the Police Service Commission failed to utterly discharge its responsibilities …and also is there any merit to allegations made by Mr Robinson,” Maharaj suggested.

Richard Guyson Mayers, an attorney and former chairman of the Police Service Commission in Barbados, chimed in explaining that if the claims are truthful, then serious crime and corruption are afoot.

“The very nature of that allegation might mean that the police may not be encouraged to investigate it and that poses another issue,” he said.

“The troubling thing is that if there was any truth to it then the Commission colluded with somebody to prevent Mr Robinson from doing his job as Commissioner.”

Atlee Rodney was appointed Commissioner of Police in February last year, three months after Robinson was terminated after three decades of service.

But Judge Ann-Marie Smith’s decision means that Robinson is still technically the country’s top cop. However, Robinson has since returned to the legal field in which he’d trained decades earlier and says he does not wish to come back to the force.

April 30 has been set for deliberations and awards for damages.

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.

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