Police Commissioner Gary Griffith has been criticised by a High Court Judge for failing to abide by a court order, on the promotions over several police officers, that was granted since his predecessor Stephen Williams’ tenure.
High Court Judge Joan Charles made the criticism after a lawsuit seeking to hold Griffith in contempt of court over his alleged inaction came up for a virtual hearing, yesterday.
“If the defendant persists in flagrantly disobeying the court’s directions, I have a duty to the administration of justice,” she said, as she noted that she may decide to grant the contempt application if Griffith fails to abide once again.
She also noted that it would be unfortunate for a high officer holder to be placed in such a position.
“The commissioner is someone with a military background and should be familiar with the term ‘comply and then complain’,” she said.
The case is the culmination of a series of promotion lawsuits filed by the officers since 2016.
The officers, who have been holding lengthy acting appointments, first challenged the merit list for promotions after it was published in April 2016.
The officers are Cpls Audie Moona, Jerry London, Ramweshwar Gopaul, Darryl Dedier, Wrenwick Theophilus, Jimmy Marcano, Dirk John and Anslem Knott.
The officers and four of their colleagues sued Williams for him to release details regarding the written promotion examinations they had previously written.
Charles granted to order in July, last year, but it was not obeyed. Two months later the officers were forced to seek an injunction blocking a promotion exercise for 75 corporals.
In February, Charles granted an interim order compelling Williams to reserve 12 positions of the rank of Sergeant pending the determination of the case.
Three months later, Charles determined the case, ordered the disclosure and instructed Williams to reconsider the officers’ promotions within seven months.
However, by August, the officers were forced to threaten Williams with contempt of court proceedings as he again failed to comply with the court’s orders.
A day after they made the threat, the T&T Police Service (TTPS) human resource department informed the officers that they had been all placed on the promotional merit list but that there were no vacancies at the time.
The officers opted to file another judicial review claim after Griffith promoted a batch of corporals shortly after replacing Williams.
Griffith eventually promoted the officers but did not give them retroactive pay as required by Charles. Griffith filed an appeal against Charles’ decision but it was eventually withdrawn and he was ordered to foot their legal bill. The legal bill still has not been paid.
The officers are being represented by Jagdeo Singh, Dinesh Rambally, Kiel Taklalsingh, and Stefan Ramkissoon.