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President’s House bans Newsday reporter

Friday, March 14 2014

NEWSDAY’s senior investigative reporter Andre Bagoo was yesterday banned from attending a media event at the Office of the President, St Ann’s due to concerns that he might ask President Anthony Carmona a question, having done so on a previous occasion.

Though the paper submitted the name of Bagoo to cover the handing-over ceremony for the Report of the Commission of Enquiry into the events of 1990, he was told upon arrival that his name was not on the list and he was not authorised to attend the event.

Bagoo’s name was apparently not placed on a list of invitees after concerns were expressed by staff at President’s House over Newsday’s assignment of the reporter to cover the event. President’s House said they were concerned Bagoo would ask the President questions, having done so on February 27 when Bagoo sought the President’s response over criticisms relating to the revolving appointments of deputy chairman of the Integrity Commission, retired Justice Sebastian Ventour.

On Wednesday at 3.30 pm, the Office of the President issued a press release inviting the media to attend the formal handing-over of the Report of the Commission of Enquiry into the 1990 attempted coup, due to take place the next morning at the Office of the President, St Ann’s, at 10.30 am.

“The media is invited,” read a release issued in the name of the Information Officer to His Excellency the President, Theron Boodan. “Please use email address below to indicate who will be attending. This should be done by no later than 9.00 am. Thursday, March 13, 2014. Dress: Elegant/jacket (No Jeans, Jersey or T-shirt).”

There were calls from a spokesperson from the Office of the President after Bagoo’s name was submitted, saying there was a “concern” over the reporter being assigned. It is unclear which official at President’s House had the final say on the issue. Newsday’s Chief Photographer Rattan Jadoo was allowed in to President’s House yesterday, as it appeared his name was on the list, but Bagoo was told his was not.

At the previous event attended by Bagoo on February 27 (the swearing-in of Ventour during Carnival week) he had sought to question the President over criticisms that Ventour’s shifting from the Integrity Commission to the Judiciary and back again was a case of musical chairs. After a swearing-in, and as photographs were being taken, Bagoo had asked President Carmona and Ventour, “This has been criticised as a case of musical chairs. How do you both respond to that?” Neither responded.

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