Is Cummings trying to intimidate the police?


Jayanti Luchmedial-Ramdayal.- File photo

Opposition Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial-Ramdiyal says the announcement during a media conference on June 8 that Youth Development and National Service Minister Foster Cummings will sue the state in 2022 over the leak of the Special Branch report is an attempt to intimidate the police.

On May 5, 2022, Lochmediel-Ramdiel read out the contents of a one-and-a-half-page report on a political forum, stating that the minister was under police investigation. Cummings has since filed defamation and slander claims against her, which are pending in the High Court.

At a media conference on June 8, Cummings’ counsel, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, said the minister’s claim against the state amounted to a breach by its agents of confidential information contained in Special Branch notes to be allowed to be published by an opposition senator.

Maharaj said it violated Cummings’ constitutional right to privacy and amounted to the civil offences of misuse of private information and breach of confidence. He said the publication of the note had damaged the minister’s reputation and caused him and his family distress and embarrassment.

Maharaj said Cummings was “anxious to correct false personal information given in a secret Special Branch note which subsequently became part of the police record”, because the police commissioner had failed to do so.

Maharaj also said police have not contacted Cummings to respond to any of the allegations made in the report, though the report said the investigation is ongoing.

In response, Luchmedial-Ramdiyal said Maharaj’s media conference had “reminded the country that, to date, Minister Cummings has not been exonerated of the allegations contained in the intelligence report that was leaked to me.”

“Why the minister thought it necessary to blow the trumpet and announce that he will sue the state because the police commissioner has refused to ‘clear his name’ is beyond me.”

He said Maharaj had “made it clear that the police were still investigating the contents of the intelligence report.”

“How can a person’s name be cleared if an investigation is ongoing? Does Cummings have more rights than every other citizen who is the subject of a police report? Or is this threat of a lawsuit a veiled attempt to pressure the police commissioner to drop the investigation as we enter an election year?”

Luchmedial-Ramdiyal wondered if the case was still under investigation, since she made it public in 2022.

“In my view no one has the right to demand that a report be removed from the records of the police service if an investigation is ongoing. No one has the right to demand the priority of the report or the time frame within which the police should investigate.

“If the minister feels that his rights have been violated by the whistleblower who leaked the report and he wants to sue the state, he can file his claim just like thousands of other aggrieved citizens do every year. This is nothing new or special.

“In the meantime, I hope that the independent TTPS (Trinidad and Tobago Police Service) will continue its work with the requisite diligence and will not feel pressured to prematurely conclude the investigation due to the threat of litigation.”


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