- “Your Prime Minister has been reasonably on good terms and has a good relationship with David Ames for a while so there were questions surrounding that.” – BBC journalist
- “… I am going to write the BBC, because I am no less a prime minster than … Brown and Cameron, to accost me like that. ” — PM Gonsalves
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb. 18, IWN – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says he will write to the London-based BBC because of an encounter with two of its journalists in Barbados on Sunday.
“… I am going to write the BBC, because I am no less a prime minster than … [Gordon] Brown and [David] Cameron, to accost me like that,” Gonsalves said on WE FM during a call from Antigua, en route to the CARICOM heads of Government meeting in Haiti on Monday and Tuesday.
Gonsalves said he left St. Vincent at 6 a.m. Sunday on a flight to Barbados, via Grenada.
He and his wife, Eloise, were sitting at the front right side of the passenger cabin, while Ellsworth John, head of the Regional Integration and Diaspora Unit, was seated at the front left side, Gonsalves said.
Two “white men”, whom he did not know, were seated behind John, Gonsalves said.
“But, as soon as we arrived in Barbados, and I am getting my luggage from the top drawer (overhead cabin) of the plane, one (of the two “white men”) came with a camera and the other one with a tape recorder and began by asking … ‘Prime Minister, we have three witnesses who would testify that Dave Ames came into your office with a briefcase of money and then left without it. What do you have to say?’”
Gonsalves explained that the men were speaking of Dave Ames of Harlequin Property, owners of Buccament Bay Resort.
“Well, at this point, I reasonably suspected what I had been told, that two journalist from Britain, allegedly from the BBC, had come to St. Vincent to carry out investigation about the Buccament project.
“Because, as you are aware, some questions are being raised by some investors in the United Kingdom — some investor in the project,” Gonsalves said.
“I said to them, ‘You can properly set up an interview with me. This is not the way to do it.’ They said, ‘But now we want to ask you the questions.’” Gonsalves further said of his encounter with the men.
“Of course, I can’t stop them from asking. They repeated. I continued doing what I was doing. I went to the door, they continued to ask and I said to them, ‘Why are you asking this kind of a rubbish, nonsense, foolishness, idiocy?’ In between, they were asking why I don’t explain to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines about Mr. Ames.”
Gonsalves said he said nothing further to the men, who continued to follow him.
He said the Barbadian security later told the men that they are not allowed to film on the tarmac, but they continued to do so, telling the security official that they are from the BBC.
Gonsalves said that when he got to the terminal building, the men told him they were from the BBC and he told them he doubted this.
He said the men said they have ID but he didn’t bother with them.
“Because they approached in such an unprofessional manner, I began by telling you I didn’t know who they were, but, when they asked, I reasonably suspected who they were,” Gonsalves said,
He said he was told on Thursday that the men had interviewed Leader of the Opposition, Arnhim Eustace on Wednesday.
Gonsalves said the British men showed, to another man, a video in which Eustace accuses Gonsalves of receiving money from Ames.
“But, I want Mr. Eustace to say that on radio and publicly; because, it is a dastardly lie. You see, they judge people by their own standards. And I am going to write the BBC because I am no less a prime minster than their Brown and Cameron, to accost me like that,” said Gonsalves, who identified one of the British men as Paul Kenyon.
Meanwhile, Kenyon, an award-winning journalist and author who has reported from around the world for the BBC, told I-Witness News on Sunday that he and his colleague did encounter Gonsalves on the aircraft.
“I can tell you we asked the Prime Minister some questions this morning on the plane and, when we touched down in Barbados. We asked some questions for a programme we are making about Harlequin and various things surrounding that.
“We had asked him for an interview before and he refused so we decided that we would tackle him on the airplane when it came to a halt…” Kenyon told I-Witness News.
“He responded by saying that the allegations were outrageous and he said we were not BBC journalists,” the British journalist further said of Gonsalves.
Kenyon told I-Witness news he was in St. Vincent working on an episode of “Panorama”, which the BBC bills as a current affairs programme that features interviews and investigative reports on a wide variety of subjects
“[there are] concerns about the operation of Harlequin and British Investors have put millions and millions of pounds sterling into the company and they want to see what the results is…
“The main thrust of the programme is about Harlequin and the resorts they have around the Caribbean. And, as you know, your prime minister has been quite friendly with David Ames for a period of time. Your Prime Minister has been reasonably on good terms and has a good relationship with David Ames for a while, so there were questions surrounding that,” Kenyon further said.