Former Minister of National Security, Robert Montague has denied there was any impropriety or wrongdoing in his review of a case that resulted in a man being given a gun licence that had previously been denied.
Mr Montague is now Minister of Mining and Transport but the allegations that something untoward happened were raised this week by TVJ in a news story.
Mr Montague responded through a press conference Friday giving details about what transpired.
In a statement on behalf of Mr Montague, after the press conference,
Minister said he “strongly rejects any suggestion of impropriety and wishes to make it clear that all decisions made by him while occupying the post of Minister of National security were in the interest of that portfolio and the safety & security of all Jamaicans.”
In stating what happened, Mr Montague said shortly after the Andrew Holness administration came to office he found “a significant number of cases, unreviewed (over 350). As such I had a Lawyer with a team hired to assist in the review of these appeal cases which were languishing. This I announced in Parliament as a part of my maiden contribution to the Sectoral debate.”
He said what was before him was an appeal as a licence had been issued previously by the previous administration, and subsequently revoked.
He set out facts including that by law “the Minister (makes) the final determination as to Permits for Firearms. “
He said he empanelled a committee of six very senior within the National Security framework, to sit as a part of the appeals panel. He said a principle from which they did not deviate was that all decisions to grant permits after appeals heard had to be unanimous.”
Mr Montague said that during his tenure as National Security Minister 209 cases were reviewed and 29 licenses granted by this Panel.
He said the case raised by TJV followed those principles and the review panel unanimously recommended the reinstatement of the license.
Some of the issues raised by the report were addressed by the Minister. Mr Montague said the person in question had been charged previously under the lottery scamming legislation. The charges were thrown out by the Courts as no evidence was provided. Subsequently, the police officer, who had charged the person in question, was alleged to be corrupt and was separated from the Police force.
Mr Montague said the person in question is from the Constituency of Western St Mary that he represents but that was not relevant.
According to the statement from Mr Montague
The person in question (making the appeal) became a “National Security Asset”. The information provided by him regarding the FLA, unearthed scandalous issues which were associated with the entity. Proof of these issues was provided by him, and actions have been taken since, including FLA personnel being fired and arrested, along with licenses being revoked.
Mr Montague said “The reporting of this story is incredulous” and irresponsible.”
He said TVJ’s editorial leadership was told the man was a National Security Asset, with the expectation that the media house would consider it private. He said the reporting sent a troubling signal to other “National Security Assets”.
“The person in question has voluntarily relocated outside of Jamaica because of personal security concerns, as such his gun licence has since been revoked.”