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July 04, 2010

'THE PRIME MINISTER HURT ME DEEPLY' - LEWIN





This Website brings you excerpts of the interview with Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, former police commissioner and former JDF chief of staff, with CVM Television's Garfield Burford:

THE security forces have continued to do a superb job. (But) we never had to get there. The security forces have a well-developed; call it modus operandi, operational plan for arresting high-profile persons, the kind of persons whose arrest will spark demonstrations. We have used it in the past, particularly with those associated with extradition requests. When you deal with requests for extradition, there are two critical elements — speed and secrecy. If it is the normal Joe Blow whom you're after, the commissioner of police and the chief of staff don't even know about it. It goes through the process; the files move from desk to desk; a warrant is produced; it goes to the fugitive apprehension team; they seek the people; they arrest them. Sometimes I read about in the newspapers. But when you are talking about big fish, the commissioner of police, chief of defence staff get involved: speed and secrecy.


• Former top cop charges Dudus was tipped off • Says ‘fire on the backside of J’can people’ spurred action.

Now on the 24th of August last year, that's the day before the request (for Christopher 'Dudus' Coke) was made, I was advised by the Americans that tomorow they'll be making a request and that they would like to inform the prime minister.
I said, Hold on, you've now informed me. It's my duty to inform the prime minister.

I said, 'work through my chain.' So I went to the minister of national security. I said, Minister, 'tomorrow I've been advised by the Americans that they'll be making a request for extradition of 'Dudus'.' The minister turned white! And without saying a word, he went on the telephone to try to find the prime minister.

In 10 minutes or so he found him at Vale Royal. He said, 'PM, I have the CP with me and he has an urgent matter involving one of your constituents. I think you ought to see him immediately.' I was told, 'The prime minister will see you at Vale Royal.'

I got up to leave and noticed the minister wasn't budging. I said, 'Minister, you're not coming?' He said, 'No! no! no! You go, go, go. You go brief the PM.' I found that strange. But I left his office. The time it took me to the basement, the time to drive to Vale Royal to brief the prime minister, no more than 15 minutes, within that period of time, Christopher 'Dudus' Coke was tipped off and was beating a hasty retreat into Tivoli Gardens. Strange coincidence. Frightening. The time it took me to get to Vale Royal, he was tipped off and was beating a hasty retreat into TG.

(Interviewer : How do you know?) Clearly I am not going to share my intelligence with you. I am saying it is a strange coincidence. Very strange.
I briefed the prime minister and he asked one or two questions. Now I asked the chief of defence staff to accompany me, because clearly, at that point I expected that there would have been a serious hunkering down to talk about the what-ifs, what-are-your-plans, what-do-you-expect-regarding-this-matter? It didn't happen.

The prime minister said, 'Well, I've been briefed.' So we said, 'Look, do the smart thing, and we left. I said, well, this does not have the appearance that it's going to go in the normal manner.

When we have these high-profile persons, speed, in terms of the process, and secrecy are critical. Had we followed the well-established operational procedures, he would have been arrested within 20 minutes or so of us getting a warrant. We would have deployed the forces, because we anticipated that there would have been at least 24 hours before it became generally known that he has been arrested. He's been arrested before and there were no riots or anything.

Now, had all that been done and anybody been killed or hurt or so on, ensuing from that, the PM could not be blamed; the minister could not be blamed. But that's not what happened. We embarked, clearly from all that has happened, we embarked on a strategy that says that anything, everything, must be done to prevent this from taking place.

Let's look at the history, including the hiring of a lobby firm. And right now we are making much ado about Manatt Phelps & Phillips. It's important, but to me that's not the issue. Manatt, Phelps & Phillips is just the manifestation of the bigger issue.

Mr. Prime Minister, who stood in Parliament, held in his right hand the book of his faith — that book for most of us is the Holy Bible — and swore allegiance to Jamaica, the Constitution, the law and the people. When crunch time came, on whose side did he fall? True to his solemn oath or to Mr Coke and his allies? Just look at what has happened from the 25th and all the efforts made in this regard. I don't have to say that. That is so well-documented.

Now, I ask the people of this country to contemplate this — which is the issue. Suppose the prime minister had had his way? Those people who were already emboldened by the stout and robust defence of the prime minister, to the point where he said he would put his political future on the line, and all the issues that were made up for why it could not go forward — legal issues and so on — matters that have been addressed in previous extradition requests by the High Court.

Coming down now to the last bit of thing, which was the constable and wiretap, a shift in goal post. Those people who were emboldened. Imagine if the PM had his way. They were large before. You know what went wrong? They were so emboldened, they decided to go burn down police stations after barricading themselves.

It backfired. For the first time, people of this country and organisations decided to take a stance. When you see the burning police stations, it wasn't stations that were burning, it was fire under the backside of the Jamaican people, that lit them up.

So I am not impressed with Mr Golding's new-found transformation. And he's now crime-fighter-in-chief, garrison-dismantler-in-chief. I'm not impressed by that. He was forced. Supposed he had his way, Mr Coke and his friends would be celebrating him as the garrison-entrencher-in-chief. Then, what about the rest of us?

Listen to me carefully, what this would have meant is that sometime in the future, it could be even another JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) government, trying now to deal with what would have developed as a consequence; to wrestle this problem, we wouldn't be having 73 people killed, it would be 730. The fight would not be contained within one little sector of Kingston, it would be islandwide.

...Let me explain something to you. If there are three million people in Jamaica and 2,999,999 are of the view that the PM should stay, this is one who says he should resign. This has nothing to do with Manatt, Phelps. Manatt, Phelps is a minor manifestation of the major issue... He (PM) took a solemn oath, like all parliamentarians, to the people of Jamaica, the Constitution and the laws. When the decision comes now to act in accordance with that, he sided with, and robustly defended, someone who is wanted.

...I am deeply hurt. I was deeply hurt, deeply disapppointed by the actions of the prime minister. The prime minister should do the honourable thing. There are two things which have suffered and continue to suffer in this country in the last 10 months — truth and honour.

We are in a little process right now, where every time most people speak, last one was Mr Montaque, we are quoting from the Bible. Well, I have one of my own, one that I have used to guide my own life. It's Proverbs 11:3. "The integrity of the upright shall guide them, but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them."

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