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Permanent Secretary for National Security to demit office

Published:Tuesday | July 5, 2016 | 7:16 PM
Outgoing permanent secretary in the National Security Ministry Major general Stewart Saunders. A senior government source told The Gleaner that Saunders’ contract expired at the end of June and that it will not be renewed.

Livern Barrett, Senior Gleaner Writer

Government insiders have revealed that Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of National Security Major General Stewart Saunders is to demit office.

A senior government source told The Gleaner that Saunders’ contract expired at the end of June.

The former Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Chief of Defence Staff was appointed Permanent Secretary in July 2013.

According to one source, Saunders is now on vacation and will officially demit office at the end of his vacation.

The development coincides with the release of the report of the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry which was critical of Saunders' role in May 2010 operation.

During the enquiry, Saunders had revealed that Jamaica requested overseas assistance for aerial surveillance. 

READ: We requested a surveillance plane in Tivoli, Saunders contradicts Golding

He also admitted that he authorised the use of the explosives and revealed that 37 mortar rounds were fired into three open spaces in the Tivoli Gardens area.

The army had initially denied that explosives were used in the operations, despite reports from residents that "bombs" were used in their community.

Saunders and then JDF Mortar Control Officer, Major Warrenton Dixon, explained to the three-member tribunal that the explosives were intended to keep women and children indoors and prevent armed thugs from using them as human shields.

But this explanation did not sway Simmons and his fellow commissioners who called the decision to fire mortars into the west Kingston community a serious error of judgement.

The commission said given the fact that Tivoli Gardens is a heavily-populated community, the use of the explosives was reckless and wholly disproportionate to the threats presented by criminal gunmen.

Saunders is now off the island and efforts to contact him this afternoon were not successful.