Retired T&T Coast Guard Rear Admiral Hayden Pritchard has slammed back a reply to United National Congress MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, regarding the latter’s claims that he (Pritchard) may be part of a plot to remove acting Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith from office.
During the UNC’s Monday Night Forum virtual meeting, Moonilal, noting concern about a “plot” to fire Griffith as Police Commissioner, claimed two private citizens were hired to investigate the conduct of police officers in 2020 but Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley had “no power” to do this.
The probe is in connection with allegations that there was a licence-for-sale racket being conducted in the granting of firearm user’s licences within the T&T Police Service.
Moonilal, noting a report that information on the alleged TTPS FUL racket had reached the Government which, in turn had appointed a two-man panel, alleged the two included Pritchard, who had a “posh” Housing Development Corporation apartment in Victoria Gardens, Petit Valley, in PM Rowley’s constituency.
But an upset Pritchard yesterday wrote to Moonilal noting his claims.
“In those utterances, you mentioned my name several times in less than complimentary manner. I wish to share the following with you in the hope that some enlightenment may result.
“I don’t know you and can’t recall meeting but I notice that you seem to lack the personal dignity or decency to even address my name correctly. So please allow me to introduce myself. I am Rear Admiral (ret’d) Hayden Pritchard. This title is not frequently conferred in any military and took me 34 years of sweat and sacrifice to achieve. I am not sure if you are aware but I have commendations from several foreign governments and international organisations for my military service and bringing honour to this country. I am also one of the most highly decorated military officers in the history of this country and the region.
“Unfortunately, space would not allow me to chronicle my service to this country, but I’m sure other members of the UNC who have integrity will attest to the exceptional quality of my work and character, as I also served while that party was in government. I do hope your colleagues would counsel you.’’
Pritchard said he was disturbed at the allegation Moonilal had presented to the public. In fact, Pritchard claimed he had a direct hand in Griffith’s selection as CoP in the first place.
“You appeared to be promoting a particular narrative in your presentation, therefore, I must inform you that I hold no personal interest in the fate of Gary Griffith. However, you should be aware that he may well not have been appointed Commissioner were it not for me. I am one of two principal referees on his application and I was interviewed extensively by the responsible HR firm prior to Griffith’s appointment. My task then was to explain to and convince the interviewer as to why I recommended him for the job. Apparently, I did my job well. I am told you and the gentleman are extremely close, so you can certainly verify this next time you speak.”
Pritchard also highlighted the fact that Moonilal seemed preoccupied with how he acquired his property.
“I note that this is the second time you have raised the issue of the purchase of an apartment at Victoria Keys. For someone who appears so prone to malign and attack, you seem unwilling or incapable of similar eagerness to speak the truth. It is inconceivable that you do not know that apartments at Victoria Keys have been on the open market since 2017 when they were completed, and are still available to any member of the general public interested in buying one. It is therefore asinine in the extreme for you to suggest that any citizen needs the intervention of a Prime Minister in order to acquire one. Not to mention the reckless aspersions on my character.”
He added, “Please note, I was appointed head of the Coast Guard under a UNC administration and I was appointed head of the Defence Force under a PNM administration. This is one of the reasons I do not support any political party but would serve any T&T government once requested to do so. In fact, some may consider it inconsistent with good military doctrine and protocol to do otherwise. I also want you to know that I have never and will never lobby or volunteer for any task from any government, because that is not in alignment with my values nor my nature. Those who know me can attest to this.
“In closing, I wish to request Sir that this be the last time you attempt to drag me into some dark place that you may inhabit. I am neither bachanalist nor politician but I will protect my good name, something which I still have and you might not quite possess.”