Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Ellington Protects Identity of Former Government Minister

Published:Tuesday | April 14, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Former Commissioner Owen Ellington at the West Kingston commission of enquiry at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston yesterday.

Chairman of the West Kingston commission of enquiry, Sir David Simmons, yesterday expressed annoyance with former Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington when he refused to disclose the the name of a government minister who he said gave him information in regards to communications between Christopher 'Dudus' Coke and clergymen Al Miller and Herro Blair.

Ellington, during his examination-in-chief said that a minister of government asked him to speak with Bishop Herro Blair and Reverend Al Miller with regard to Coke's intention to surrender himself to the security forces.

When asked to reveal the name of the individual, Ellington refused, stating that the information was given under condition of confidentiality and he was not at liberty to disclose the name of the person, whom he said was a government minister at the time.

"It was a confidential discussion, and unless that individual comes here and says he spoke to me about it, I would be constrained by the sensitivity of my office to disclose that information," he said.

Chairman Simmons, who was noticeably perturbed by Ellin-gton's unwillingness to give the name of the government minister, posed pointed questions to him in an attempt to solicit the information.

"You are saying that the government official asked you to speak to the two reverends about the possibility of getting Coke to surrender peacefully, so where is this great confidentiality that you are speaking about between yourself and that government official?" he asked.

security reasons

Even with fellow commissioner, Professor Anthony Harriott, intervening, Ellington refused to give the name of the individual, at which point Simmons declared, "the only way information of that nature cannot be disclosed in this commission is if there is a certificate seeking public interest immunity for that conversation."

Ellington said that he was not trying to frustrate the efforts of the commission but was only observing the wish that the conversation be kept confidential for security reasons.

Simmons countered this reasoning by Ellington, asking him what was the security concern given that the information was being sought five years after the fact.

Simmons, while conceding confidentiality for this sitting of the commission, made it clear that he was dissatisfied with this stance made by Ellington.

"I am not persuaded, and I will wish to hear arguments by the end of this week as to the propriety of the commissioners claims," he said.

The enquiry is looking into the May 2010 police-military operation in West Kingston aimed at capturing Coke, which left more than 70 people dead. The enquiry, which is being held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston, continues today.

andre.poyser@gleanerjm.com