Following a statement issued on Thursday by former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, questioning the recent comments made by Dr Sam Sittlington, including whether or not he was operating under the auspices of the British High Commission in Guyana, the British High Commissioner, Greg Quinn, today outlined his role as it relates to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
Nandlall had said that “Mr Sam Sittlington has taken the liberty of making statements which have political underpinnings, and seems to be functioning as part of the operations of SOCU.”
Nandlall’s questions were premised on Dr Sittlington’s involvement, over the last few days, in SOCU’s arrest and detainment of several former prominent government officials including former President and now Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, former Prime Minister and President Samuel Hinds, Dr Luncheon, former ministers Priya Manickchand, Irfaan Ali, Clement Rohee, and Jennifer Westford, among others in connection to their role in the Pradoville 2 scheme.
Sittlington a United Kingdom (UK) advisor to SOCU, was quoted in the media saying among other things that “under the police Act, the police have the power to arrest without a warrant for someone suspected of committing a misdemeanour. Whenever the police require them for an interview and they refuse to, then they are breaching that, and the police can come in and arrest them. The whole point is to bring someone in to gather evidence because you suspect them of committing a criminal offence.”
Nandlall questioned Sittlington’s role in the law enforcement process of Guyana. “Is he operating under the auspices of the British High Commissioner in Guyana? If so, then one will have to assume that there is some linkage between his actions and the British Government. This must be clarified by the British High Commissioner.”
In responding to the questions raised, Quinn said “let me clarify the situation. Dr Sittinlington is at SOCU in an advisory and training capacity and not in an operational role. I also understand that former Attorney General Hon. Anil Nandlall believes that High Commission staff were at the Oasis Cafe on Wednesday, however that was not the case.”
Quinn was referring to the recent meeting between the Head of SOCU Sydney James; Dr Sittlington and Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattanon where they were seen clinking glasses in an extremely celebratory atmosphere in the dimly lit café.
Ramjattan had confirmed publicly that he and the SOCU officials were having some drinks at the popular spot, which usually is not opened to the public after dark.
According to Ramjattan, he went to “have a glass of wine” with the SOCU officials as they celebrated Dr Sittlington’s work here in Guyana.
However, the former Police investigator from Northern Ireland had explained that he was only required to provide advice to SOCU for a few months.
The British High Commissioner posited that “in talking to the media Dr Sittlington was trying to be helpful in explaining the legal basis and rights on which SOCU took the actions they did. It would be wrong to interpret this as Dr Sittlington being involved in the investigations themselves. He was not.”
Quinn said further that “Dr Sittlington’s current contract was funded by the British High Commission and was designed as a follow up to his work with SOCU last year.”
These events comes on the heels of resounding cries that the Executive has been giving orders to SOCU to attack former Government officials as part of its ‘witch-hunting exercise.’
Just one week before SOCU arrested some of the former officials, Ramjattan had threatened charges against them.
Following the arrest of former top Government officials by agents of SOCU, the Government issued a public statement, dismissing allegations that SOCU’s actions were in any way part of a political vendetta.
It stated that SOCU was operating independently and without any interference or direction.
State Minister, Joseph Harmon had defended the A Partnership for National Unity/ Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) Government in the ongoing probe into Pradoville 2, by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), saying that the administration does not have its hand in the “independent” investigation.
He reiterated similar sentiments in today’s post Cabinet press briefing at the Ministry of the Presidency.