National Security Minister, Hermangild Francis, has vowed to take television talk show host, Christopher Hunte to court, telling a news conference Friday that he was informed that Hunte made ‘certain allegations’ regarding the minister’s wife, who is a police sergeant.
‘I was informed that Christopher Hunte on his show – Politically Incorrect, made certain allegations and statements indicating there was a cabinet conclusion where names of individuals, including the name of my wife was sent to the Commissioner of Police for promotions to be made,’ Francis told reporters at an emergency news conference.
The minister later played a clipping of Hunte for reporters to hear.
The clipping starts with Hunte saying: ‘ Government sent out a memo to the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force to get specific people within the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force promoted and I am asking, has a minister’s wife who is in the police force – has the cabinet of ministers asked that this person be promoted?’
The names of three police officers are specifically mentioned and Hunte calls on the President of the Police Welfare Association (PWA), Travis Chicot, to state whether the information is true.
‘I want to make it known and I want to state it categorically that there was never any cabinet conclusion to that effect,’ the minister, who is a former Deputy Police Commissioner declared.
According to Francis, cabinet does not engage in promotion policy.
‘The promotion policy is very clear – to the rank from Constable to Inspector, the Commissioner of Police has the power under the constitution to make those promotions. Any promotions above the rank of Inspector to Commissioner, it goes to the Public Service Commission (PSC) on recommendations made by the Commissioner of Police,’ he observed.
He explained that the recommendations sometimes go before the minister for his ‘knowledge’.
‘I cannot interfere with those promotions. I make comments and the comments are sent to the Public Service Commission and they act in their own deliberation. The Public Service Commission makes its own rules and regulations as to how matters are dealt with when it comes to promotions. So for Christopher Hunte to make that statement and for then the Police Welfare Association President to actually send out a message this morning to members of his executive for an emergency meeting to be held as it relates to the cabinet conclusion – something that is non-existent and for the President of the Police Welfare Association to take that stand, then things are very serious,’ Francis remarked.
He vowed that he would not take the Christopher Hunte matter lying down.
Francis disclosed that he was going to take legal action against Christopher Hunte and anyone else who repeats the ‘allegations’ that were made.
‘I will be seeing my legal representatives and we will be going to court. I don’t want any apology or anything like that,’ the minister stated.
‘I am particularly disappointed in the President of the Police Welfare Association, Travis Chicot, who knows for a fact that we have this open door policy that if he hears anything he can come to me and we can discuss it in totality,’ Francis told reporters.
He said he had sent Chicot a message via WhatsApp, but the PWA President had not responded.
Francis noted that there is a section of the police ordinance that deals with insurrection.
‘You cannot be putting your police officers under that stress,’ he declared.
The Public Relations Officer of the PWA, Zachary Hippolyte confirmed that there was a meeting of the organisation Friday to ‘bring clarity’ to certain pronouncements made by persons over the media relating to ‘some alleged cabinet conclusion’ where police officers would be promoted.
(Meeting of PWA Executive)
Hippolyte said the PWA has seen do such document.
‘If one exists, we have no such information as to who has it and if any such document was ever tabled in any meeting involving any minister whatsoever,’ he told St Lucia Times.
Hippolyte described the PWA meeting as being ‘very fruitful’.
‘We have clarified this issue and we are ready to move on with the business of welfare,’ he explained.
He defended the decision to hold the meeting of the PWA executive.
According to the PWA official, the head of any organisation, especially the PWA, upon receiving any information, whether credible or not, has the authority to call the association executive to discuss the matter.
He said the PWA has a ‘great relationship’ with the Minister of National Security, the Police Commissioner and other law enforcement officials.
The PWA was scheduled to have a meeting with the Minister of National Security.