The State has withdrawn its appeal of the court ruling that the police search of Express House back in 2020 was illegal and unconstitutional.
After hearing attorneys for both sides in the matter recently, Justice Bereaux granted permission for the offices of the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Police and then-head of the police service’s Financial Investigations Branch (FIB) Supt Wendell Lucas to withdraw the appeal in the matter against Express’ parent group, One Caribbean Media Group (OCM), Trinidad Express Newspapers and the newspaper’s editor-in-chief Omatie Lyder.
The Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) was also named as an interested party.
In January 2021, High Court judge Frank Seepersad found that officers of the FIB of the Police Service acted illegally and breached the constitutional rights of the Express when they executed two search warrants at Express House, Port of Spain, in March 2020.
The warrants were executed as investigators sought information over who provided information to investigative journalist Denyse Renne on an investigation that was taking place against then-assistant commissioner of police Irwin Hackshaw over alleged suspicious bank transactions between 2014 and 2017.
Officers also seized flash drives from Lyder’s office during the search.
Following the police’s actions, OCM brought a claim against the Offices of the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Police and Lucas.
In his ruling, Seepersad said there were evident errors in the two warrants that were seemingly not detected by the justice of the peace who granted them.
He had also said that the State presented no evidence that either the newspaper or Renne was under suspicion of committing any illegal act. The judge added that, in Lucas’ affidavit, two possible sources from where the information may have been leaked were identified but instead of investigating members of those branches of the TTPS, Lucas took the investigation into Express House.
Seepersad stated that the search was illegal and unconstitutional and ordered the items taken be returned.
He also ordered that the State pay compensatory damages to the media house as well as its legal costs.
The State appealed the decision, but was allowed to withdraw the appeal.
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