KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, March 5, IWN – Former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell has compared Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves’ experience with two BBC journalists last month to an encounter he had on a CNN programme while in office.
“… it a little bit amuses me, because, what the Prime Minister is facing from the BBC journalists, remember I had my share with CNN with the Jolly Joseph murder…” Sir James said on a television programme this week.
He was referring to his appearance on CNN’s “Burden of Proof” when two Americans were charged with and later freed of the murder of Jolly Joseph, a Vincentian water taxi operator in Bequia.
Gonsalves on Feb. 17 said he was accosted on board a landed plane in Barbados by two BBC journalists who asked him about an allegation that investor Dave Ames, chair of Harlequin, had gone to his office with a bag of money and left without it.
Asked about Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace’s decision to grant an interview to the BBC, Sir James said:
“If the BBC were interviewing me, Dr. Gonsalves, I was not going to get my mouth in that until BBC had published what they had to say. You have to be very careful with these things, when things are going on, where you don’t have all the facts.
“As a leader, you can’t allow events to dictate your policy. You have to be out front with your policy and know where you stand,” the retired politician further said.
Asked how he would have dealt with the allegation of money being taken to Gonsalves’ office, Sir James, who was prime minister for 16 years, said:
“First of all, your conscience guides you when people come with things. And when you know in your conscience where you stand, you can withstand anything. I have withstood the slings and arrows of Ottley Hall for 12 years and nobody has come up with evidence that I got any money from it.”
Sir James was referring to the inquiry set up to find out about monies that are unaccounted for at the project, undertaken while his New Democratic Party was in office.
With regards to the Buccament Bay Resort, which has come under scrutiny because of non-payment of wages to Vincentians workers and a probe by the British government, Sir James said that all right-thinking Vincentians support foreign direct investment.
“What has gone on with Buccament, I don’t know and I am not prepared to jump into that,” Sir James said.
He, however, spoke of a Vincentian in England who complained to him about not being paid for his lands at Buccament Bay.
“I hear of all the people who have not been paid and I sincerely hope that they will be paid,” Sir James said.