KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, CMC - Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has made good on his threat last week to write the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to complain about the “unprofessional” attitude of two of its journalists.
Last week, Gonsalves said he had been accosted by the two journalists while on a stop-over in Barbados on his way to Haiti to attend the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Inter-Sessional summit in the French-speaking Caribbean country.
The regional leaders later issued a statement expressing concern over the incident that Gonsalves had occurred in the presence of his wife, Eloise and Ambassador Ellsworth John, head of the Regional Integration and Diaspora Unit.
In his letter to the chair of the Board of Trustees of the BBC, Lord Chris Pattern, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister said it had become necessary for him to complain about the “unprofessional” behaviour of the journalists, adding that the two journalists, Paul Kenyon and Matthew Hill had also made "a false declaration which is punishable in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and in all other civilised countries, by imprisonment.
In his February 22 letter to Lord Pattern, a copy of which was distributed to journalists at a news conference here, Prime Minister Gonsalves said the two journalists had “declared on their Immigration Forms that they were entering St. Vincent and the Grenadines as tourists.
"As we now know, they had come to my country to work," Gonsalves said, noting that while he was being accosted, the journalists told him that they had information that Dave Ames, chair of a multi-million dollar investment here, had gone to his (Gonsalves) office with a bag of money and left without it.
Gonsalves said the journalists were unprofessional in their approach when they asked him about the allegation, which he has denied.
"It is plainly wrong for Mr. Kenyon to peddle a wholly unfounded allegation against me and in the process sully my good name and that of my office. His allegation is false. Further, the unprofessional manner in which he accosted me is surely improper," Gonsalves wrote.
Gonsalves said he is “no less a prime minister than a British Prime Minister though I am from a small country with an annual budget...much less than that of the BBC.
“That, however, is not a reason for your journalists to trample on the dignity of my country and its office holders. Fairness, common courtesy and respect are eternal virtues,” Gonsalves said, adding he has repeatedly stated to his nationals that “I have never sought or received one cent ...from Ames”.
Prime Minister Gonsalves said he has also never sought any favour from the investor and that the granting of citizenship to him “was done properly within the framework of the law and absolutely no inducement or favour”.
Prime Minster Gonsalves said he has “built up a solid reputation for good governance and an aversion to official corruption over 45 years of political activism “ and that “it is plainly wrong for Mr. Kenyon to peddle a wholly unfounded allegation against me and in the process to sully my good name and that of my office”.
Gonsalves said he was available to “meet with you at any convenient time to discuss this matter further”.
During the news conference Gonsalves was also critical of Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace who had last week accused him of not telling the truth when he told the nation that the two BBC journalists had said he (Eustace) was the source of information regarding the briefcase with money.