Kamla in the dark
Thursday, July 11 2013
PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday said she was “in the dark” over the Guardian newspaper staff walkout. Asked for her view on the walkout during her walkabout in Munroe Road, Chaguanas yesterday the Prime Minister appeared surprised.
“A walkout, but why,” she asked. Told of allegations by senior Guardian journalists of political interference being behind the walkout, Persad-Bissessar said, “(interference) by whom? By the ILP (Jack Warner’s Independent Liberal Party) or by the PNM (Opposition People’s National Movement)?”
“I have not spoken to neither board members nor reporters at the Guardian. I speak to the reporters from time to time when you ask me questions. I’ve had no conversations with anyone, therefore there’s no interference (by) the Partnership and certainly from the UNC as far as I’m aware. For myself, ‘no’,” she said.
Later at another function, Persad-Bissessar again reiterated, “I certainly have not spoken to anyone at the Guardian. The only time I was aware of this exodus is when you asked the question.
“I can say emphatically, there is no interference from the Partnership or the UNC. I myself have not spoken to anyone at the Guardian. The only time I would have spoken to anyone from the Guardian would have been in conversation at such settings (media interviews). Outside of this I have no contact with anyone from the Guardian.”
Former UNC chairman, Government minister and Chaguanas West MP Warner alleged that the Guardian row had led to the publishing house withholding copies of his weekly newspaper, the Sunshine, which he said contained stories commenting on the Guardian affair. At a cottage meeting in La Paille, Caroni last night, Warner said he has instructed his attorney to draft a legal letter to that publishing house.
Warner alleged political interference by two top Government officials had led to the Guardian staff walkout. He charged that democracy was under threat. He alleged that the Government officials had threatened the Guardian with loss of lucrative Government advertising, if that newspaper continued to print anti-government stories. Warner claimed the two ministers told the Guardian’s board of directors to replace managing director Gabriel Faria, with someone who would not print anti-Government stories. Warner also alleged that the Guardian board had yesterday summoned their staff and told them to toe the political line.