Former Attorney General Dale Marshall has challenged Government’s chief legal adviser to “put up or shut up” and to concentrate on “making this country safe again”.
It was Marshall’s response to a call by Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite over the weekend for the Member of Parliament for St Joseph to say “whether or not he had anything to do with the illegal tapping to telephones of ordinary men and women in this country”.
In making the call at a a joint meeting of St Michael branches of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) at Eagle Hall Primary School on Sunday, Brathwaite said in light of the fact that others who could have been implicated in the illegal phone bugging between 2000 and 2009 had cleared their names, it was left to Marshall to do the same.
However, speaking to Barbados TODAY on his way to Parliament this morning to participate in the Estimates debate Marshall accused the Attorney General and the governing Democratic Labour Party (DLP) of being “wholly irresponsible” by discussing “what would obviously be sensitive policing matters” in public.
“The only thing that this will serve, other than to distract the electorate, will be to bring the work of the Royal Barbados Police Force into disrepute,” he said, going on to argue that Brathwaite should be concerned about the impression he and his colleagues were creating within the police force.
“The Force must be shaking their heads with worry about what else about the inner workings of its crime prevention and interdiction strategy will the Attorney General next bring out in public? Instead of attempting to score political points, he ought to have recognized by now that the only person this helps is the criminal element. As I understand it, these very matters are attracting the attention of the High Court in a case involving the Police Service Commission and he, more than the rest of his colleagues, should respect the judicial process.
“As his Prime Minister is so fond of saying, if the Attorney General has any evidence of any illegality being perpetrated in this island, whether from on high or not, whether within the Force or outside of it, he should report such evidence to the authorities, whose responsibility it is to investigate and to prosecute criminal wrongdoing. Until then, the Attorney General needs to put up or shut up, and get on with his job of making this country safe again, for as long as the people will that he should be the one to do it,” the BLP legislator stressed.
Speaking in Parliament last week on the Telecommunications (Amendment) Bill, 2017, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler cautioned that unnamed persons, who he said had illegally recorded phone calls and Internet transmissions of public officials and private individuals during the tenure of the last BLP Government, were waiting “in the wings” for the call of elections to continue their “dastardly” acts.
However, Sinckler sought to make it clear that he was not accusing the former Owen Arthur-led regime of authorizing or knowing about the wiretapping because, he said, even Arthur’s phone was bugged.
While he did not identify the person behind the phone bugging, it became obvious that he was referring to former Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin, even as he left hanging who might have given Dottin permission to undertake the illegal act.
Arthur immediately made it clear neither he, nor his Cabinet, had given permission to illegally wiretap phones, while Opposition Leader Mia Mottley dismissed the charges as a red herring by the DLP to distract Barbadians from the many problems facing the country in the lead up to general elections, constitutionally due by mid-year.
Dottin has also been reported as denying any involvement in illegal wiretapping during his tenure as head of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF), although he acknowledged that wiretapping had been used by the RBPF as a criminal investigative tool since 1991, but charged that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as well as his predecessor, the late David Thompson, knew about it.
In light of these denials, Brathwaite suggested that Marshall was the last man standing who was in a position to authorize the action.
“Owen Arthur is saying ‘it is not me, I don’t know anything about that, I never authorized it’. Then the Maguffy holds a press conference saying that is a red herring; that, in fact, she is not responsible for anything that happened in 2006. Now, remember no dates were mentioned in Parliament. So she doesn’t know, Owen doesn’t know and Dottin say that he knows but he didn’t do anything illegal.
“So since Mia said she had nothing to do with 2006, then it would have to be the Attorney General at the time. So I have to ask the person who was Attorney General in 2006 whether or not he had anything to do with the illegal tapping of telephones of ordinary men and women in this country who were not involved in illegal activities,” he said.
Brathwaite also told the DLP supporters that police officers knew phones were being bugged illegally.
He claimed that when he was canvassing between 2007 and 2008, “no senior member of the Royal Barbados Police Force would have a conversation with you with your telephone near him or with a battery in your telephone”.
“So, they obviously knew something that was going in this country that I did not know at the time, but Dottin knew. So if senior police officers were not confident speaking to you with their telephones on or would first take the batteries out of their cell phones, then therefore there is no red herring,” the Attorney General said, adding that he was inclined to believe Marshall did not sanction the illegal monitoring of phones.