Embattled Commissioner of Police Willan Thompson could square off in the high court with Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell in a legal battle over the manner in which he was removed as head of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).
Court documents contained by THE NEW TODAY newspaper indicate that the Supreme Court Registry has set December 4 as the date for hearing a case brought by COP Thompson who is now serving as Clerk of Parliament.
The case was brought by the law firm of Lex Fidelis Chambers against the Attorney-General of Grenada, Cajeton Hood and the Public Service Commission (PSC), headed by barrister-at-law Derek Sylvester.
COP Thompson is asking the court to rule that the circumstances in which he was removed from the post after the February 2013 victory at the polls by Dr. Mitchell and his New National Party (NNP) was “in reality a termination” of his appointment as the island’s Police Chief to facilitate the re-organisaton of the police force.
He also wants the court to declare that the Office of Clerk of Parliament is not an office or post in the Public Service of Grenada of an equivalent status to that of the Commissioner of Police within RGPF.
The legal action is seeking to get the court to make a declaration to the effect that COP Thompson was forced by the Mitchell government into retirement and that he “is entitled to be paid his salary, allowances and benefits as if he had attained the compulsory retirement age, as guaranteed by section 84 (8) of the Constitution of Grenada”.
Former Accountant-General in the Ministry of Finance, Richard Duncan who is now the Manager of the Grenada Co-operative Bank Limited had won a similar case against the 1995-99 Mitchell-led NNP government and is now receiving a monthly pension of over $4000.00 a month from government.
As a public service, THE NEW TODAY highlights some of the claims made by COP Thompson in his documents filed before the court:
“On February 19, 2013 general elections was held in Grenada which resulted in a new administration assuming the government. On the morning of February 21, 2013, I contacted and spoke with the new Prime Minister, Dr. Rt. Hon. Keith Mitchell, in my capacity as COP.
The Honourable Prime Minister asked that I come to see him the following day at 4:00 p.m. at his private residence at Happy Hill, St. George’s.
Upon meeting with the Honourable Prime Minister, as he requested, I gave him an oral brief on the state of crime and other security issues in the country. One of the first things the Honourable Prime Minister said to me was, “you know you are not’ my man for the job”, which I understood to mean that the Honourable Prime Minister did not want me to continue to hold office as the COP.
The Honourable Prime Minister then said to me that he had four (4) concerns, namely:
(1) That part of the machinery for registering voters in the constituency of St. George South East had gone missing and I had not found it and it was because he was up and down in the United States of America and the United Kingdom that the National Democratic Congress was not able to use it.
(2) That ‘Pony Tail’ (who I understood to be referring to Vincent Roberts) was driving around with equipment tapping people’s phones. I told the Honourable Prime Minister that we have had no such complaints.
(3) That I promoted people (police officers) just a few days before the general elections and that I should have waited a two days after the general elections to do so.
(4) That he had asked for security coverage and I did not provide same but if anything had happened to him I was going to pay a very high price. The Honourable Prime Minister continued saying that, “I called you and spoke with you and you wrote to me, so when I saw that (at this stage he shrugged his shoulders) I said well papa”.
The Honourable Prime Minister then said, “Well I can see how you will want to have some record”.
The Honourable Prime Minister continued speaking for a while, then I interjected and said to the Honourable Prime Minister that “I do not work’ for Party A of Party B, I am a professional and work for the government and people of Grenada”.
I then pointedly asked the Honourable Prime Minister whether my job was being threatened and, while walking away, he replied over his shoulders that he had security concerns. The meeting ended.
It became clear to me from the above mentioned conversation with the Honourable Prime Minister and from reports which I received, that the Honourable Prime Minister did not want me to continue to hold the office as COP.
I therefore initially applied for vacation leave from March 3, 2013 to November 15, 2013; thereafter I applied for leave with pay to May 15, 2014 and finally for more vacation leave to July 4, 2014.
This afforded me the opportunity to pursue studies in England leading to the completion of the legal bar qualifications”.
Thompson also gave a graphic description of his ordeal when he reported back to work at Fort George at the end of his long leave of absence from the job.
He said: “On the morning of July 7, 2013, I attended at Fort George, Police Headquarters and the office of the COP. I went to see Mr. Winston James, the acting COP, in his office and I met Assistant Commissioner of Police Edwin Martin there.
I informed Mr. James that my leave has expired and I am due to return to work today and so I am back to work. Mr. James told me that he was in receipt of a letter from the Second Defendant (PSC) transferring me to Parliament as of July 7,2014, and he handed me a sealed envelope from the office of the Second Defendant addressed to me in my private capacity and not as a public officer as is customary in the public service of Grenada.
After leaving Police Headquarters on Fort George I attended at the office of Clerk of Parliament, office of the Houses of Parliament and met with Mr. Raphael Donald, the retiring Clerk of Parliament.
Since then I have been reporting to the office of Clerk of Parliament, office of the Houses of Parliament and have been performing whatever tasks are required of me. This is so because I fear that until I was able to give my Counsel instructions to file the Originating Motion and Notice of Application herein I may be prejudiced, in that, if I did not report for work I may be deemed to have abandoned my office in the Public Service of Grenada”.
According to Thompson, the action taken against him after the February poll won by PM Mitchell and his NNP “amounts to a demotion”.
He told the court, “it substantially reduces or removes my authority, status, allowances and benefits, namely – as COP there are approximately 950 officers under my command in addition to other staff; my status on the official Table of Precedence for Grenada has been reduced; as COP, I am provided with a government of Grenada vehicle and driver; and I am entitled to free medical, dental and vision services from the government of Grenada as a member of the RGPF and COP”.
He went on to say: “….The office of Clerk of Parliament, office of the Houses of Parliament is not of an office of equivalent status to that of the office of COP in the RGPF for the following reasons:
(1) The office of COP in the RGPF is within a special or closed department with its attendant benefits and privileges while the office of Clerk of Parliament, office of the Houses of Parliament is an office within the general public service from which one is liable to be transferred to any other post or office in the Public Service of Grenada.
(2) Appointment and removal from the office of COP may only be done by the Governor General, on the advice of the Second Defendant, while in respect of the office of Clerk of Parliament, office of the Houses of Parliament the appointment and removal is by the Second Defendant without more”.