The lawyer who saved SSP James ForbesThursday, July 29, 2021
Senior Superintendent of Police James Forbes was met with an enthusiastic welcome yesterday when he returned to his job as head of the Community Safety and Security Branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), his corruption conviction now firmly behind him.
SSP Forbes had a full itinerary to mark his first day back, including brief meetings and courtesy calls with Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson and heads of organisations representing the rank and file of the JCF.
His first stop was with the management and staff of his old office, followed by meetings with the Corporate Communications Unit, the police information arm; Crime Stop, which first brought him to prominence; the Jamaica Police Federation; and the Police Officers' Association.
At a private lunch with key supporters at the AC Hotel Kingston, he spoke emotionally about his nine-year ordeal since his arrest for attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Thanking the many individuals who had supported him throughout, he reserved special praise and gratitude to attorney Jacqueline Samuels-Brown, QC, who represented him and secured his freedom at the Court of Appeal.
“It is as much her victory as it is mine,” said Forbes, adding: “I could not have been here today without her. When she was offered more money to represent someone else in the same case, she turned it down to represent me, even though I could not offer her more.
“And when we lost the first case in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court, she advised me, on a matter of principle, to seek another attorney to represent me. But I told her no and implored her to stay with me. She did and saw me through.”
Forbes was found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice in 2014 stemming from a meeting he moderated between businessman Bruce Bicknell and two police sergeants at his St Andrew office in 2012.
The senior cop was implicated in the alleged destruction of a case file prepared against Bicknell, who had earlier been accused of offering a bribe to two policemen to tear up a speeding ticket issued during a traffic stop in east Kingston.
But Forbes insisted that no such agreement had been reached and that he was unaware, at the time of the meeting, that Bicknell had been formally charged. He was found guilty by the magistrate, while Bicknell and Portland Western Member of Parliament Daryl Vaz - who was charged jointly with him - were later freed.
Forbes was sentenced to a fine of $800,000 or six months in prison.
He appealed the case in 2018, and on February 26, 2021, at a virtual sitting, the Appeal Court tossed the conviction and ordered that the $800,000 paid by the policeman be returned to him forthwith.
Last week, the Police Service Commission informed him that he was being reinstated.
Forbes said he had shared with the police commissioner that he would proceed today on 14 days of departmental leave, to be followed immediately by his vacation leave which would take him to his 60th birthday in November, when he would presumably have the option of retiring from the force.
Among those attending the luncheon were former Police Commissioner George Quallo and veteran broadcaster Dr Fae Ellington, who was among those who had given character witness for Forbes.
— Desmond Allen
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