As debate heats up surrounding the unprecedented decision to send Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin on administrative leave, with the ultimate aim of retiring him “in the public interest”, the embattled top cop has now moved to challenge the decision in the law courts.
Investigations by Barbados TODAY revealed that a fixed date claim and an application for an injunction were filed in the High Court this afternoon against the Governor- General and the Police Service Commission on the matter. The details of the court documents were not immediately available. However, legal experts have observed that the action against the Governor-General has never happened in this country before.
“Usually, when matters of this sort occur, the Attorney- General is made a party to the suit, so this is new,” pointed out a leading local Queen’s Counsel. “There is always a first time,” reasoned another prominent senior lawyer. “The Governor-General is a figure head who was carrying out an administrative duty as required by law. He was a legitimate party to the action (sending the Commissioner of Police on administrative leave),” the Queen’s Counsel suggested.
“The Administration of Justice Act is a very wide act. All decision-makers are open to scrutiny, and in as much as the action was made by him (the Governor-General) that includes him.
“This is a new move, in that there were never a challenge to his actions before. All that would happen if his decision was overturned, is that the action would be held in abeyance,” argued one of the island’s top senior attorneys, when asked about the implications of suing the Head of State.
It is known that Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Guyson Mayers, had earlier written Dottin
informing him about the decision to send him on retirement leave in the public interest. Mayers told the COP that the Commission had advised the Governor-General to exercise the power conferred upon him by the law, and requested that he [Dottin], “in the public interest, be retired from the office of Commissioner of Police”.
“His Excellency directed the Police Service Commission to provide you with copies of all statements and other evidence which was considered by the Police Service Commission in reaching its decision that you should be required to retire in the public interest, within 21 days of today’s date, 17 June, 2013,” the letter to Dottin stated.
The official correspondence also notified the top police officer, that the Governor-General had further advised, that, within 28 days thereafter, he may provide him with any statement or other evidence or document which, in Dottin’s opinion, would cast doubt on, or completely rebut the case presented to the Head of State by the PSC.
The Police Service Commission also informed him he had the right to provide any evidence, which was capable of convincing the Governor-General that he should not act on the PSC’s recommendation to send him on leave.
“His Excellency expressed the view that when he is fully satisfied that all the rules of natural justice as they apply to your case, have been satisfied, he would be in a position to determine whether or not you should be required to retire,” pointed out the letter.
However, the Governor-General, it added, was of the view that Dottin should be placed on administrative leave from June 17 until further notice.
Meanwhile, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Tyrone Griffith, has been appointed to act as commissioner.
The Police Association of Barbados has said it will issue a statement on the matter shortly, while one of the longest-serving presidents of that organisation, Hartley Reid, expressed concern about these developments. Reid, who had retired from the Royal Barbados Police Force after more than 30 years and led the association for about 20 years, said the recommendation to send Dottin on retirement leave was a first for the force as far as he knew.
However, Reid, who was an inspector when he left the constabulary, said he believed “when the dust has settled” the force would return to normal.
President of the Barbados Bar Association, Barry Gale, told Barbados TODAY he could not comment on the matter at this moment, since he was not apprised of all the details.