Lawyers seek 'Justice for James'
Supreme Court asked to block interdiction of Police Federation chairman

LAWYERS representing suspended head of the Jamaica Police Federation Corporal Rohan James have rushed to the Supreme Court for an injunction to declare null and void Wednesday's decision by the Police High Command to interdict him.

In an application filed on Friday, attorney-at-law Hugh Wildman asked the court to issue a stay of the decision of the high command contained in Notice of Interdiction, dated July 26, 2023, placing James on suspension with three-quarter pay pending the hearing and determination of the an application for leave to apply for judicial review against the decision and the proffering of disciplinary charges against him.

James has been suspended from all duties is to face a Court of Inquiry where, if he is found guilty, the sanctions could range from a lengthy suspension, demotion and at its most extreme dismissal from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

He is being accused of conduct contrary to the "discipline, good order and guidance of the force", and is facing four charges including being disrespectful to seniors in rank and communicating to the public certain sensitive issues within the JCF without permission from Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson.

JAMES... warned that the Federation would not be muzzled, intimidated or bamboozled (Photo: Observer File)

The allegations against James are in relation to comments that he made at the funeral of Constable Damien Blair at the Old Harbour New Testament Church of God in the St Catherine on July 15.

In a hard-hitting address, James warned that the federation, which represents rank-and-file members of the JCF, would not be muzzled, intimidated or bamboozled by the high command in respect to overtime payments which the court has ruled they are entitled to.

"And I also want to say to the high command and to our commissioner, God helps you if the membership is not paid their overtime come this month. I am tired of the abuse being meted out and believing that persons can call me to intimidate me. I have not seen the man, or woman, that is going to lead me into fear so that I will retreat from doing what the membership have asked of me to do.

"When I was elected it is because I have the capacity, the will and the power to do it. We are entrenched in law as a police federation body and nobody is going to compromise it. Politics, nor nothing, will come in the path of the execution of the federation's role," added a militant James in comments which seemed to irk the high command.

WILDMAN... James is entitled to make statements in the public domain where such statements are protected under the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms

In the application filed in court on Friday, Wildman argued that James maintains that what he said at the funeral of Constable Blair did not go beyond the bounds of propriety and falls squarely within the ambit of Section 13 (3) (b) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedom which states or guarantees the right to freedom of thought, conscience and belief

"Further the applicant [James] maintains that what was said at the funeral by the [James] is protected under the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms as contained in Section 13 (3) (c) which guarantees the right to freedom of expression.

"The applicant states that as chairman of the Federation, which is a creature of statute, that is, under the Constabulary Force Act, he is mandated to speak to issues touching and concerning the welfare of its members and in so doing addressing the issues of the members," added Wildman.

He argued that James is entitled to make statements in the public domain where such statements are protected under the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms as amounting to genuine concern, concerning its members.

"The statements made by the applicant reflect the applicant's genuine feeling of concern that a court order in favour of its members was not being carried into being despite numerous attempts to have the matter resolved by the high command and the various and the relevant Government ministry.

"The applicant seeks this honourable court's intervention to protect the applicant's right to express a genuine feeling and concern about the welfare of the members that the applicant was elected to represent.

"The applicant therefore seeks an order quashing the various disciplinary charges brought by the [high command] against the applicant and its consequent reduction in salary and the interdiction of the applicant," said Wildman.

BY ARTHUR HALL Editor-at-Large

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