Ex-Com­mis­sioner says he and Prime Min­is­ter talked about new job be­fore axe fell!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

As po­lice com­mis­sioner Cuth­bert Phillips was par­tic­u­larly shy of the press and cam­eras. Imag­ine the sur­prise on Wed­nes­day when his at­tor­ney Ken­neth Mon­plaisir an­nounced his press con­fer­ence. It be­gan with the lawyer an­nounc­ing that his client —“with­out any ac­ri­mony what­so­ever”—wanted only to demon­strate his re­spect for the pub­lic’s right to know. “Some­one told me this was the grouse sea­son,” the at­tor­ney chuck­led, “but we’re not in­ter­ested in shoot­ing any­one down.”

When Phillips fi­nally ad­dressed the press gath­er­ing, he an­nounced he would be read­ing from the Greaves Re­port, about which much had been heard but was never ac­ces­si­ble by the me­dia. The gov­ern­ment would an­nounce fol­low­ing the press meet­ing that the doc­u­ment was clas­si­fied and ought not to have been in the hands of the re­cently fired po­lice com­mis­sioner.

By all Phillips said, it seemed he blamed home af­fairs per­ma­nent sec­re­tary Vic­tor Gi­rard for his predica­ment, not the man who had an­nounced his dis­missal on na­tional TV sev­eral days be­fore his press con­fer­ence: the prime min­is­ter and home af­fairs min­is­ter John Comp­ton. Phillips claimed he found it es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult to do his job as po­lice com­mis­sioner thanks to Gi­rard’s “in­ter­fer­ence.”

It was dur­ing the ques­tion and an­swer pe­riod that the sparks started fly­ing. When a re­porter asked Phillips to con­firm he and his deputy An­drew Fred­er­ick had been en­gaged in a fac­tional dis­pute, he said: “Some of the pow­ers that be, want­ing op­er­a­tional con­trol of the force, which the com­mis­sioner guarded, sought to con­sult with my sub­or­di­nates . . . giv­ing my sur­bor­di­nates the kind of power that al­lowed them to be­lieve the com­mis­sioner was no longer the com­mis­sioner. As a mat­ter of fact the per­ma­nent sec­re­tary in home af­fairs could have worn the com­mis­sioner’s cap. This was where the whole break­down of the force started. If any­one wants to say there was a fac­tional war, then yes, there could only have been one if there were per­sons in author­ity sup­port­ing it.”

Ad­di­tion­ally: “In the po­lice force you had two broth­ers and a cousin . . . But I can­not say there was an open war. I’m not say­ing there wasn’t a fac­tional dis­pute, only that I had no ev­i­dence. Wit­nesses were not forth­com­ing.”

He re­peated his ear­lier con­dem­na­tion of the home af­fairs per­ma­nent sec­re­tary. “An ad­vi­sory board was ap­pointed,” Phillips re­called. “Its pur­pose was to ad­vise the com­mis­sioner as to whom to re­cruit, pro­mote or dis­ci­pline. Greaves asked for the abo­li­tion of that board on the ground it would erode the pow­ers of com­mis­sioner. This board has not been dis­banded.”

He said he was sur­prised by the prime min­is­ter’s dis­missal speech on TV: “My wife and chil­dren al­most col­lapsed. I re­ceived my let­ter from the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion about 7.30 on the night in ques­tion, af­ter my sis­ter called from Toronto to ask about my po­si­tion. Toronto knew be­fore me that I had been com­pul­so­rily re­tired.” He said he’d had a meet­ing with the prime min­is­ter sev­eral months ear­lier and had formed the im­pres­sion the prime min­is­ter had con­cluded “there were per­sons bent on de­stroy­ing the com­mis­sioner who didn’t care if they also de­stroyed the force in the process.” The prime min­is­ter had told him: “Mr. Phillips, I’ve had enough. I will ap­point a com­mis­sion of in­quiry,” and showed him the terms of ref­er­ence of the Karl Hud­sonPhillips in­quiry.

Phillips re­vealed he had made a big mis­take in not making pub­lic prob­lems he had brought be­fore the at­tor­ney gen­eral and the PSC. He as­sured the gath­er­ing that “I was not fired.” The re­porter per­sisted. “Be­fore you re­ceived the PSC’s let­ter, when the only hint of dis­as­ter came via the prime min­is­ter’s tele­vised ad­dress, did you think you had been fired?”

“No!” said the for­mer com­mis­sioner.

“Why did your wife col­lapse?”

“I did not ask her,” said Phillips, vis­i­bly agi­tated.

He added that be­fore the re­called prime min­is­ter’s ad­dress an­nounc­ing his re­moval, the prime min­is­ter had promised him a new po­si­tion with the re­gional Se­cu­rity Ser­vice. Alas, that of­fer did not ma­te­ri­al­ize. It turned out that “the RSS had no va­can­cies!”

Lit­tle has changed with the man­age­ment of the Royal Saint Lucia Po­lice Force since the days of Cuth­bert Phillips (top) as com­mis­sioner. He re­ceived his march­ing or­ders from the PSC fol­low­ing a TV an­nounce­ment by the

prime min­is­ter John Comp­ton (top right).

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