KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb. 26, IWN – A BBC official says while Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves wants to be treated like his British counterparts, they would not behave as he did at a press conference on Monday.
Matthew Chapman, the producer of a BBC “Panorama” programme to be made about Harlequin Property, told I-Witness News on Tuesday that the show will be writing to Gonsalves and he can decide whether to share with the nation the content of the letter.
“I find it interesting that Mr. Gonsalves wants to be treated equally with the likes of Gordon Brown and David Cameron. However I can confidently say that no British Prime Minister would stoop to waving private and confidential documents around during a press conference, openly displaying the personal details of people who had applied to enter the country,” told I-Witness News.
He was responding to request for a comment regarding a statement by Gonsalves that BBC journalists Matthew Hill and Paul Kenyon made a false declaration on their immigration forms when they entered St. Vincent and the Grenadines earlier this month.
Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security, briefly displayed at the press conference what he said were the immigration forms signed by Hill and Kenyon.
He said the men had indicated on the forms that they had come to the country as tourists, but had in fact come to work.
Gonsalves, who is Minister of National Security, said the men committed an offence that is punishable in any country, by imprisonment.
It is the latest development in the fallout from an encounter between Gonsalves, and Hill and Kenyon aboard a landed aircraft in Barbados on Feb. 17.
Kenyon told I-Witness News on Feb. 17 that they had failed to secure an interview with Gonsalves during their four-day visit to this country and “tackled” him when they saw him on the aircraft in Barbados.
Gonsalves said the men asked him about an allegation that investor Dave Ames came to his office with a bag of money and left without it.
But Gonsalves said the British journalists were rude and accused them on accosting him.
He further pointed out that he was no less a prime minister than Britain’s Gordon Browne or David Cameron and deserve similar courtesies.
He told a press conference on Monday that he had written to the chair of the BBC Trust to complain about the encounter.
Gonsalves further said that “a professional gentleman”, who was prepared to go on the record, had informed him that the BBC journalists had displayed on a hand-held device at a hotel in St. Vincent a video in which the allegation about the bag of money is made.
But Chapman told I-Witness News on Tuesday, “We will not be sharing details of our filming or allegations with anyone other than those directly affected.
“We will very shortly be sending a private letter to Mr. Gonsalves about our programme and it will be up to him to decide whether he wishes to share its’ contents with the nation,” the BBC producer told I-Witness News.