SHANE Dalling and Dennis Meadows on Tuesday traded allegations of corruption at the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) in a war of words that appears headed for court as both men claim that their character and integrity are being besmirched.

The first salvo came from Dalling, the FLA chief executive officer, at a mid-morning press conference at AC Hotel in St Andrew during which he said he would no longer remain silent about accusations being levelled at him in relation to the approval and rejection of firearm licences.

According to Dalling, rumours and innuendos have been maliciously circulated across social media platforms YouTube and WhatsApp as well as via e-mail giving the public the impression the he is part of the selection process.

“I am not… I am not a member of the board of the FLA. The CEO is strictly administrative at the FLA, but the board is similar to what you call a licensing board. They do not consult the CEO or take advice from the CEO; the only time I am made aware of a decision of the board is after they have made those decisions,” said Dalling.

“If persons are aggrieved by any decision of the board of the FLA, they are allowed, under law, to apply to the review board. The review board is chaired by [retired] president of the Court of Appeal Justice Seymour Panton and is assisted by a retired deputy director of public prosecutions as well as a retired senior superintendent of police who hears the appeals then makes recommendations to the minister of national security,” Dalling explained, adding that the minister “has the final say on who gets the licence on appeal”.

He said the messages have been circulating on social media platforms for approximately four years and are reported to come from FLA employees who end their e-mail messages stating that they are concerned staff members.

Dalling said he has engaged the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) and an international organisation to “assist in finding the source of these malicious attacks on the FLA and the membership”.

He accused Meadows, a former FLA chairman, of being the first person to attack the authority on social media and said that he had obtained a court order in the United States which has been served on Yahoo, Google and Microsoft “to release the data on all the people who have been sending those e-mails” which the CEO claimed were malicious and have maligned his character.

“The cyberattacks on the FLA have become so prevalent that people have gone as far as coming to my home to take photographs of my home and place on social media. They have gone as far as taken copies of my land title to place on social media,” Dalling claimed.

“Suffice it to say, it is well orchestrated and they have been using different IP addresses spanning all the way to Zimbabwe to disguise their identity,” he alleged.

He also said his detractors have gone to the Integrity Commission, Auditor General’s Department, National Integrity Action, and “sent e-mails to the US Embassy seeking to malign the entire membership of the board of the FLA, the staff, and myself”.

“They have even accused me of transnational crimes such as the selling of gun licences and transporting it overseas. I have worked closely with the US Embassy on this matter also and they have given us their full support,” added Dalling.

He said that when he joined the FLA in June 2017 he had noticed that people of questionable character were being granted firearm licences.

He said a review by MOCA and the FLA administration, headed by him, “discovered hundreds of criminal elements from Westmoreland, St James, Trelawny, Manchester, [and] Clarendon who received gun licences although the police had warned against granting any such licences to the individuals”.

Dalling said his checks so far reveal more than 200 such cases of people with criminal trace and criminal conviction who have been granted firearm licences. Among them, he said, was a Corporate Area ‘don’ who got four gun licences.

However, on Tuesday afternoon, in a response on Twitter, Meadows said Dalling’s comments were defamatory and not only impugned his reputation and character but also those of his former board colleagues.

Meadows said he has forwarded recordings of the news conference to his attorneys and have been advised to be reserved in his initial comments.

He said that in 2017, when the FLA matters became public, he recused himself from the board to facilitate the investigation which he invited MOCA to undertake.

Meadows said although he was not the target of the investigation he assisted MOCA and survived the probe with his “reputation intact and unscathed”.

He called on MOCA, the Integrity Commission and the auditor general to immediately conduct a probe into the damning allegations of impropriety.

Meadows also alleged that last week an acquaintance of his paid $1,350,000 to someone connected to the FLA to obtain a firearm licence in two months. Additionally, he said that anyone who is refused a firearm licence is contacted by the individual and invited to lodge US$6,000 to an account in Cayman and one in the US, apparently in order to have the refusal overturned.