Businessman Michael St John sends pre-action protocol to COP requesting false info be removed from police database

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Businessman Michael St John sends pre-action protocol to COP requesting false info be removed from police database

Michael St John a businessman who was shot in an attack at long circular mall in January 2024 has sent a pre-action protocol letter to Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher. St John the owner of D’ Dial Fitness Club left his establishment at around 12.22 p.m. in January of 2024, and was walking towards his car parked on the western end of the mall, he was ambushed by a gunman who stepped out from the front passenger seat of a Nissan Qashqai SUV, ran up to him and opened fire using what appeared to be a 9mm pistol, police said. St John was struck on his face, which appeared to have been partially blown off, and his stomach.

At a media briefing in Port of Spain on Saturday April 20, Attorneys Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, and attorney Om Lalla said their client wished to have his record and name cleared so he can get clearance from the United States to apply for a Green Card, which will allow him to live and work permanently in the US.

The pre-action protocol  was sent on April 19 and has a 14-day deadline for a response from the CoP, but did not specify the nature of the alleged false information on St John’s record. Lalla said the “false” information had seriously injured St John’s reputation even as the police service confirmed he had a clean record.

He added :“This matter involves a very serious issue of both human rights and constitutional rights, as it affects the security of the person when false information is held by public authority.” Lalla called for the matter to be investigated and for an audit of the Versadex system, one database system used by the police to record and store criminal records of people, which could be accessed by other entities including banks and embassies.

Maharaj SC said Mr. St John discovered the issue in 2017 when he applied for a US Green Card. He was told he satisfied all the criteria, including a certificate of good character from the police, however, at an interview at the US Embassy in TT, he was told there was something in his local records which affected his application but he was not told what that was.

After five years of investigations, he was sent a screenshot of the troublesome entry in the police database dated March 13, 2017.

and requested  the police to investigate the entry of the “false” information and for it to be removed to protect and restore his name.

In a letter, dated April 7, 2022, his attorney acting on his behalf pointed out the information on the database could negatively affect his business interests as well as his applications for certain licences, permits, insurance and loans as agencies accept that information without question.

In a reply dated July 26, 2022, the police said it took no responsibility for the information in the screenshots, that St John had a clean record and that the information in the screenshots was not related to St John. Therefore, it said the request to remove the information was not applicable. The pre action  letter was sent to the COP on April 19 and has a 14-day deadline for a response from the CoP.