MONTEGO BAY, St James — Former Government Senator Dennis Meadows, who on Sunday got the nod to represent the People’s National Party in Trelawny Northern, has welcomed the Integrity Commission’s (IC) ruling that no charges will be laid against him in connection with the issuing of gun licenses to individuals with criminal convictions or adverse traces.
But, asserting that the ruling had been submitted to Parliament around the same time that the allegations against him had been made, he has questioned why it took so long to clear his name.
Meadows, a former board member of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) walked away from the JLP in 2002 after a war of words with FLA CEO Shane Dalling, who named him as one of several officials who granted gun permits to people with criminal convictions or adverse traces.
The Jamaica Observer obtained a copy of a letter on what appeared to be letterhead of the Integrity Commission, over the signature of Keisha Prince Kameka, director of corruption prosecution, who signed for and behalf of the Integrity Commission.
“The director of corruption prosecution, pursuant to her statutory mandate under sections 34 (1)(a) and (34)(1)(b) of the Integrity Commission Act (ICA), concluded review of the “Special Report of Investigation Concerning Allegations of Acts of Impropriety, Irregularity and Corruption in the Issuance of Firearm User Licenses to Persons of ‘Questionable Character’ and a ruling was submitted to the commission through the executive director,” a section of the letter stated.
It added, “The executive director, in accordance with the provisions of section 54 of the ICA, thereafter submitted the referenced report to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, under cover letter dated February 22, 2022, which detailed the ruling of the director of corruption prosecution that, ‘On careful assessment of the matter and the evidential material provided, it has been determined that no viable criminal charges can be laid.”
A relieved Meadows said he was happy to have his good name cleared. But that relief was intermingled with other emotions.
“My reaction is mixed. On one hand, I’m relieved to have my good name cleared. Anyone who knows me well will tell you I value my good name beyond anything. I’m certainly not an infallible being but I’ve always conducted my life in a manner that can survive scrutiny,” he told the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday afternoon.
He is, however, upset that the ruling was not tabled in Parliament.
“I was shocked to learn that the Director of Corruption Prosecution submitted her report to Parliament as far back as February 22, 2022, essentially the same time the substantive FLA report was tabled in Parliament. It begs the inescapable question, why the director’s ruling was not tabled at the same time,” he said.
Meadows accused the Government of deliberately sabotaging him because he switched allegiance from the ruling Jamaica Labour Party.
“In my view, this Government has abused and weaponised the Parliament against its detractors. It’s a vulgar abuse of the Parliament. They used the said Parliament to launch an attack on the very Integrity Commission…,” Meadows said.
“I remain hurt by the sinister effort on the part of the Government to bury me alive because I dare exercise my right to associate with the People’s National Party,” he added.
He said his wife and family have been “traumatised during the controversy”.
Meadows said an explanation must be provided.
“It’s my considered view that the president of the Senate, Speaker and the clerk of the House need to tell me and the public what caused it to be kept off the table of Parliament. I consider the Speaker a good friend and a decent person, but I’m also aware that politics often trump friendship. I suffered irreparable reputational damage while a report existed which clearly exonerated me,” he said.
In February the IC came under harsh criticism over its handling of allegations of a conflict of interest in connection with contracts awarded to close associates when Prime Minister Andrew Holness was minister of education, during the period 2006-2009. In a report to Parliament, the IC said the prime minister had been referred for potential prosecution.
Days after that tabled report attracted local and international attention, it was revealed that the IC had decided that there would be no criminal charges laid against the prime minister.