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In 10-page letter, PM says BBC’s response ‘wholly inadequate’

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves reacts to a BBC journalist on board the airplane in Barbados on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves reacts to a BBC journalist on board the airplane in Barbados on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013.

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, March 8, IWN — The response by Tim Giles, editor of BBC’s “Panorama” programme, to a complaint about two of his journalists is “wholly inadequate, defensive, nit-picking and unsatisfactory,” Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says.

“You have adopted the posture of an advocate in the cause of Messrs Paul Kenyon and Matthew Hill, the two offending BBC journalists. You were not seeking truth from facts,” Gonsalves said in the March 5 letter to Giles.

Giles on March 4 responded to Feb. 22 and Feb. 28 letters from Gonsalves to Lord Chris Patten, chair of the BBC Trust, in which he complained about the “rude” and “unprofessional” approach of Kenyon and Hill when they asked him about an allegation on board a landed airplane in Barbados on Feb. 17.

Patten had referred the letters to Tim Davie, the BBC’s acting Director General, who forwarded them to Giles for response.

The Office of the Prime Minister on Thursday circulated to the media two one-page letter that Gonsalves wrote to Davie and Patten, respectively, on March 5 and 6, respectively, and a 10-page, March 5 letter to Giles.

Gonsalves said that the conduct of the journalists on the LIAT aircraft in Barbados and subsequently, “leads right-thinking persons to conclude reasonably that they came to St. Vincent and the Grenadines with a jaundiced mindset, unwittingly embroiled themselves in the snake pit of Vincentian partisan politics, and have themselves become protagonists in this story against the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“I reiterate that your response is in many important respects factually incorrect and quite unsatisfactory,” Gonsalves said in his letter.

But while the Office of the Prime Minister did not circulate to the media Giles’ response to Gonsalves, the Prime Minister at times quoted from it, thereby giving an insight into its content.

Gonsalves said that Giles, in all his “self-serving, defensive, untruthful and less than impartial commentary … have not once reproached Messrs Kenyon and Hill for their unseemly and unprofessional ambush/tackle of me…

“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind and the minds of most Vincentians that the two BBC journalist and Mr. Matthew Chapman [a “Panorama” producer] have set out to belittle me. But I know for sure that although I am not better than anyone, no one is better than me. I teach this to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, especially the young, every day…

“Your response obviously does not address the fundamental concerns which I raised originally and which are now more than every fortified in this exchange. Your unsatisfactory, self-serving and defensive joinder, stuffed with falsehoods, strengthens the case for the relevant BBC authorities to address swiftly the unprofessional conduct of Messrs Kenyon and Hill. The reputation of the BBC is at state. So, too, are truth and facts. my complaint still stands,” Gonsalves wrote in the letter.

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