Tue | Sep 25, 2018

Montague: Firearm licence granted because man was 'national security asset'

Published:Saturday | August 11, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Robert Montague, minister of transport and mining, walking to his desk before addressing the media about a matter that arose while he was the minister of national security at his office on Maxfield Avenue in St Andrew, yesterday.

Robert Montague, former national security minister, has defended a decision taken by an appeal committee, including him, of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) in December 2016 to grant a firearm licence to a St Mary resident who he has described as a national security asset.

Montague countered a Television Jamaica report on Thursday stating that he had overturned a revocation by the FLA of a gun licence for a man the police believed was a member of a gang and involved in lottery scamming.

"This person in question had been charged previously under the lottery scamming legislation. The charges were thrown out by the courts as no evidence was ever provided. Subsequently, the police officer who had charged the person in question was alleged to be corrupt and was separated from the police force," said Montague during a press conference held at the Ministry of Transport and Mining yesterday.

He added that the revocation of the licence was prompted by two anonymous and unsigned letters containing allegations of criminal conduct.

Under Sections 37 and 37A of the Firearm Act, the minister of national security is empowered to make the final determination regarding the issuance of a licence. However, Montague said that a panel adjudicated 209 appeals between March 2016 and April 2018, with 29 cases being overturned.

APPEAL COMMITTEE

He said: "As minister, I took the additional policy decision to improve the governance of this process. I empanelled a committee of six persons [who were] very senior within the national security framework to sit as a part of an appeals panel. I did not do it alone."

The former national security minister said that although the appellant was from his St Mary Western constituency, that factor did not play a role in the ruling. He added that throughout the appeal process, the appellant became a national security asset.

Montague explained, "... The information provided by him regarding the FLA unearthed scandalous issues that were associated with the entity. Proof of these issues was provided by him, and actions have been taken, including FLA personnel being fired and/or arrested ... . "

According to Montague, the man is now abroad due to security concerns and his gun licence was revoked.