PM says SSA scandal “blindsided” government

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PM says SSA scandal “blindsided” government

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said the Government, and by extension the country, had been “blindsided” by the Strategic Services Agency (SSA). 

His statement was made during a press conference on Sunday following his return from India and comes on the heels of SSA head, Major Roger Best being fired on Saturday.

The termination of Major Best came days after he was arrested and questioned in relation to state issued firearms.  

Best, his religious advisor, Pastor Ian Brown and two other SSA members, Portell Griffith, a former security supervisor, and Sgt Sherwin Waldron, a tactical operations officer, were released from police custody on Saturday. The four were held during a 24-hour police raid between Wednesday and Thursday. 

Asked by members of media for an update on SSA, the Prime Minister said while the Government was blindsided, it was informed early that something was amiss at the agency, which he said was approached with “vigour and commitment.” 

“There is an ongoing very serious investigation that is taking place and as I said before some of what has been unearthed in this investigation has been quite troublesome with impressions of criminal conduct,” he said. 

Rowley said Cabinet did not hesitate to act against those who seemingly fell short in doing their jobs; adding: “We expect that we will rectify and return the agency to its purpose.”  

Asked about former Air Guard captain Kester Weekes, who reportedly introduced Best to Brown and was stationed with Phillips-Spencer in Washington before his recall to head SSA, the Prime Minister said Weekes was recalled some three weeks ago.  

He added that the audit spearheaded by Phillips-Spencer will address personnel, processes and infrastructure, and will also include any possible connection between Weekes, Brown and Best.  

Asked if he was concerned that there could be any conflict of interest with the probe given that Weekes and Phillips-Spencer had worked together, Rowley said, “No, that doesn’t arise.” 

On the future of the SSA and who would replace Best, the PM said, “The replacement has been taken care of long time. When we realised we had a problem of this nature, the Government acted swiftly. There is an acting appointment there with all the authorities of the office and for the time being, that will be satisfactory as we try to get to the bottom of what was going on in the SSA.” 

He reiterated that what has been discovered to date is “troubling” and when the time comes for a permanent replacement, Phillips-Spencer is as “good an officer as we can get.”