by Richard Lord and
Express May 08, 2002
Police Commissioner Hilton Guy said yesterday it would have been “preferable” if Prime Minister Patrick Manning had not telephoned the Marabella Police Station on April 12 enquiring about a suspect.
But president of the Police Welfare Association, Sgt Christopher Holder, said the prime minister was dead wrong to call the station.
Holder said Manning’s concern should have been directed through the Commissioner of Police.
“Officers should never compromise the integrity of any investigation by virtue of the status of any individual in society,” Holder said.
He added that “the same principles of the oath of office to perform duties without fear, favour, malice or ill-will, shall apply to the Prime Minister right down to the vagrant in the street, because no one is above the law”.
Though Guy said he had “no recollection” of any Prime Minister ever telephoning a police station in such circumstances before, he added that he didn’t think Manning’s action was “irregular”.
“What I’d say (is) it might have been preferable if the Prime Minister had called either the Commissioner or (acted) through the Minister of National Security,” he told reporters at a media conference at his Port of Spain office.
Asked if he would describe the move as being improper, Guy said: “I am not going to use the word improper.”
But moments later in response to a question on whether it was legal for a public official, including a Prime Minister, to call a station to make such enquiries, Guy said: “There is no law against it. One might very well say that would be improper.”
Earlier, Guy said the suspect—a former driver of Manning—had been released more than 16 hours before Manning’s call to the station.
He said the man was detained by police on April 10 for an offence allegedly committed in December 2001. He was due to go on an identification parade on April 11 but the parade did not take place and he was released at 1.45 p.m. that day. Guy added that Manning called the station at 6 a.m. the next day.
He said the officer who was in charge at the station at that time was due to return to work today after being on leave, and he plans to meet with the officer to find out the content of the conversation between Manning and himself.
Asked to comment on a situation several years ago when former PNM Home Affairs Minister Dr Patrick Solomon went to a police station to release a relative, Guy said the two incidents were not the same.
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