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Opposition Leader Wants Warner Brought Before Privileges Committee

(CMC):  President of the Senate Timothy Hamel-Smith has deferred his ruling on whether or not National Security Minister Austin Jack Warner should be sent to the Privileges Committee after an opposition legislator accused him of misleading the Senate.

Opposition Senator Fitzgerald Hinds said statements made by Warner in the Senate last week about the ex-gratia payments to former police commissioner Dwayne Gibbs and his deputy Jack Ewatski had been contradicted by the Police Service Commission (PSC).

Warner had informed the Senate that the Kamla Persad Bissessar government had paid Gibbs TT$1.27 million (One TT dollar = US$0.16 cents) and Ewatski TT$1.21 million upon cessation of their contracts based on a recommendation of the PSC.

But in a statement, the PSC said it “wishes to state that it never made any such recommendation. Neither does the issue of such payments fall under the constitutional mandate of the commission”.

Hinds told the Senate that Warner’s statements were therefore “wholly untrue” and accused the National Security Minister of deliberately misleading the Senate, committing contempt of the Senate and being reckless and bringing the Senate into disrepute.

The opposition legislator said that Warner, with his intimate knowledge of the situation, “should have known or ought to have known the information he was conveying to the Senate was inaccurate”.

Hinds said the situation was a “disdainful desecration of the Senate’s privileges”.

Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith said he would rule at a subsequent Senate sitting on Hinds’ request.

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