KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb. 19, IWN – It seems that Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves will not sue the BBC over an allegation that an investor came to his office with a container of money and left without it.
Gonsalves said two BBC journalists told him on Sunday that they had three witnesses who were prepared to testify that Buccament Bay Resort investor, Dave Ames went to the Office of the Prime Minister and left there a container of money.
Gonsalves said the Unity Labour Party (ULP), which he heads, intends to defend his integrity in the face of the allegation levelled by Paul Kenyon and another BBC journalist in the process of making a programme about Ames and his investments.
Gonsalves accused the BBC journalist of accosting him on an airplane in Barbados on Sunday.
“But, the subtext [is], this is a small country, they are the mighty BBC, they can do what they want and if they say anything, Ralph Gonsalves is going to find that he has to get a lot of money to sue us in England,” Gonsalves said on the ULP’s Star Radio on Monday.
“How he will have to sell all his house, all the property which he owns, with some lands which he just bought from my father’s estate,” Gonsalves said of himself.
“I will have to sell everything I own in order to sue them. Because, they’re big and powerful, and who am I? The prime minister of a small country, so they can go and sully your name without … one iota of justification,” said Gonsalves, who has been Prime Minister since 2001.
Gonsalves said “anybody who tells them (the BBC) anything would have had some kind of self-serving reason to perjure themselves.
“If they have any beef with Ames, have it with Ames. Don’t have it with me. I am no less a prime minister than Tony Blair, Gordon Brown or David Cameron,” he said, referring to past and current British prime ministers.
“I am the prime minister of an independent nation called St. Vincent and the Grenadines and I am entitled to be treated with the same respect which you accord to those prime ministers in England, in the United Kingdom,” he further said.
“And if you have evidence of a serious allegation, bring the evidence. Don’t come and shout at me on a plane.
“And they are doing that for the purpose of sensationalism. They, themselves, must reasonably suspect that the allegation that they are making is false. Because they must know that anyone who tells them that will be some interest in wounding Ames in the UK.
“And anybody who believes that allegation has an interest in wounding Ralph. You notice how their diverging interests converge, both there in England and at home,” Gonsalves further said, adding that he was looking forward to Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace’s comments on the matter.
Eustace was interviewed by the BBC journalists and on Monday, accused Gonsalves of being “a liar”.
“Where could I get information of his accepting anything? I am saying that Gonsalves is a liar when it come to that,” Eustace said on “New Times”, a daily radio programme sponsored by his New Democratic Party.
“… I said nothing like that,” Eustace said of his interview with the British journalists.
ULP intends to defend PM
Meanwhile, Gonsalves said the ULP intends to defend him.
“The ULP intends to defend the integrity of the political leader and Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves.
“Because they know when I tell them that what is being said with this allegation is a lie, it is false; they know it too. They know how I function.
“The public servants who are dealing with, interfacing with … all the issues with developers and Dave Ames would be able to speak to it. Sam Commissiong (lawyer for the Buccament Bay Resort) can speak to that.
“In other words, I am calling names of people to show the professionalism with which I dealt with these investors and continue to deal with them,” Gonsalves said.
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 result 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 had a good relationship with David Ames for a while, so there were questions surrounding that,” Kenyon further said.
When Gonsalves was accused of sexual assault a few years ago, thousands of supporters of his ULP turned out at a rally to show support for him.
Gonsalves has successfully sued Nice Radio and some talk show hosts for statements made about him.
But, he has repeatedly said that he has not sue legitimate journalists but will relentlessly pursue, in the law courts, entities that oppose him politically.