Wednesday 21 October, 2020

Griffith accepts PCA's advice on Hackshaw but will not be rushed

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith says he will act in the matter involving Acting Commissioner of Police (ACP) Irwin Hackshaw who is accused of misconduct over his acquisition of funds amounting to $2 million.

Griffith was responding to the PCA’s request for an urgent probe since Hackshaw will retire soon.

He said: “As Commissioner of Police, I consider this matter to be very serious and have accepted the findings in total. In fact, I consider the recommendations of the PCA to be reasonable and cogent. It is my intention to act upon these recommendations as soon as reasonably possible. There is a conundrum before me, however. The Police Service Regulations, Section 156(4) clearly states that a disciplinary hearing MUST be conducted by an officer senior in rank to the officer before the tribunal."

"As a result of the lack of appointed DCPs and bearing in mind that Mr Hackshaw is the only one of two substantive Assistant Commissioners of Police, the only officer in a senior substantive rank to Mr Hackshaw at this time is the Commissioner of Police. It therefore creates a problem as the Commissioner of Police will also have to decide Mr Hackshaw’s fate and act upon any punishment (if necessary) deemed to be appropriate."

"The matter is further complicated by the fact that ALL officers either at Mr Hackshaw’s rank or senior to Mr Hackshaw are witnesses in the matter. This includes myself as Commissioner of Police. It means therefore, as Commissioner, I will be literally the judge, the jury and the executioner. This I cannot do, as it will both be in complete violation of Mr Hackshaw’s rights as well as being patently illegal.”

Griffith said he has communicated this dilemma to the Police Service Commission and has called for the appointment of substantive DCPs to be made urgently.

He stated: “The TTPS has openly and willingly accepted the recommendation to proceed with disciplinary proceedings against Mr Hackshaw, however, such proceedings are also subject to due process. A tribunal will be set up if possible, and the process will unfold consistent with every other tribunal undertaken within the police service.”

The Police Commissioner added that legal advice is being sought on how to proceed. However, he advised the public that the PCA’s recommendation is not an assumption of guilt on the part of ACP Hackshaw. He said as such, the TTPS cannot arbitrarily discipline the officer.

He said: “There is a process spelt out in the Police Service Regulations which must be followed. The PCA’s press release cannot, will not and, I hope, is not intended to pressure the TTPS to act in contravention of the law. I must express though, my concern with an independent confidential organisation apparently either feeling pressured or deciding that it is in its best interest to publish the matter in the media. Especially when it failed to unearth anything criminal, and is in fact recommending an internal resolution of the matter at hand.”

The top cop said the matter must not develop into an attack on the integrity of the Police Service (TTPS) reminding that Hacksaw was not found guilty of any crime.

“The Express Newspaper published an article in which Mr Hackshaw was alleged to have some 18 accounts and two million dollars passing through those accounts. That accusation turned out to be patently false. The Express Newspaper was later served with a search warrant as part of an investigation, ironically triggered by the newspaper, as it is unlawful to be in possession of information alleged to have come from the FIU. Dual investigations were launched as a result of the newspaper article. One by the TTPS, and another by the PCA. The TTPS and in particular Mr Hackshaw, was then accused of abuse of power for serving the said warrant. This too, was easily disproven since the warrant was not signed off by any member of the TTPS.”

According to the Police Commissioner, the TTPS launched and conducted a thorough investigation under the authority of ACP Nurse who determined that there was no criminal case for Hackshaw to answer.

He also reminded that he was willing to send the file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the interest of transparency once the investigation of the PCA yielded a different conclusion to that of the TTPS. The DPP had requested the file on Hackshaw stating he was doing so in the public’s interest.

However, Griffith noted that the PCA’s investigation also found no criminal case.

He said: “The PCA in its investigation conducted their affairs with a wider scope than that of the TTPS and looked at all actions involving ACP Hackshaw for a period of approximately five years prior to the assumption of duties of Commissioner Gary Griffith. The police investigation focused on the alleged criminal conduct outlined in the newspaper report and involved speaking with the companies through which ACP Hackshaw received payments. The PCA investigation on the other hand, involved speaking with the Board of Inland Revenue, identified companies from which cheques were received and past Commissioners of Police. As a result of the widened scope, the PCA unearthed what they believe to be a prima facie case for disciplinary action against Mr Hackshaw involving conducting private business while in the employ of the TTPS without the permission of the Commissioner of Police. This is not a criminal offense and will therefore be handled internally.”

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