KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb. 25, IWN — The two BBC journalists who Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said accosted him in Barbados on Feb. 17 “committed an immigration offence” here, Gonsalves told journalists on Monday.
Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security, said Paul Kenyon and Matthew Hill made “a false declaration which is punishable in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and in all other civilised countries, by imprisonment.”
In a Feb. 22 letter to Lord Chris Patten, chair of the Board of Trustees of the BBC, Gonsalves said that Kenyon and Hill “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 in the letter.
He wrote the letter to complain about the “unprofessional conduct” of the journalists, who, he had said in statements on radio and in the letter, accosted him.
Gonsalves has said that during the encounter aboard a landed LIAT aircraft in Barbados on Feb. 17, Kenyon and Hill put to him an allegation that Dave Ames, chair of Harlequin, went to Gonslaves’ 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. He further said they hindered members of his delegation, which was en route to a CARICOM summit in Haiti, from exiting the aircraft.
“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 said in the letter to the BBC chair.
He further reiterated that he deserves the same level of respect accorded to any other prime minister in the world.
“Fairness, common courtesy and respect are eternal virtues,” Gonsalves said.
“I am available to meet with you at any convenient time to discuss this matter further. In the meantime, I place the aforementioned issues into your hands for consideration and action,” Gonsalves said in the letter to the BBC chair.