• “Are BBC Panorama journalists now the new Messiah trodding metaphorically from Galilee to Jerusalem for us lowly peasants and serfs to be energised in obeisance with welcome palm-leaves?” — Gonsalves to editor of Panorama
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves (File photo).
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves (File photo).

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, March 10, IWN — The two BBC journalists with whom Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves had an encounter in Barbados, contacted his office before Feb. 15, contrary to what he initially said.

This information was garnered from a letter Gonsalves wrote last week to Tim Giles, editor of the BBC programme, “Panorama”.

In the letter, Gonsalves expressed dissatisfaction with Giles’ response to his complaint about the conduct of BBC journalists Paul Kenyon and Matthew Hill during the encounter on Feb. 17.

Gonsalves had initially told the nation that the journalists contacted him for an interview late on Friday, Feb. 15 but he could not meet them because of prior engagements.

But, in the March 5 letter, Gonsalves said that after returning from a CARICOM summit in Haiti on the evening of Thursday, Feb. 21, he learnt that one of the BBC journalists had contacted his office on the afternoon of Thursday, Feb. 14.

Gonsalves said in the letter that he had a full day of meetings and engagements at his office and elsewhere up to late in the evening on Feb. 14.

“Strange as it may sound to you, I do not hang around my office waiting upon itinerant BBC journalists who happen to be in the land of my birth,” Gonsalves said in his letter to Giles.

“Are BBC Panorama journalists now the new Messiah trodding metaphorically from Galilee to Jerusalem for us lowly peasants and serfs to be energised in obeisance with welcome palm-leaves?” he further wrote.

Gonsalves further rebutted “emphatically” Giles’ assertion that on Feb. 15 Gonsalves had the telephone number and email address of the BBC journalists.

“I was not given them by anyone. In any event, was I required to track down the BBC journalists?” he wrote.

Gonsalves further said that while he knows one Rodney Gallagher, OBE well, Giles was “plainly wrong” in his assertion that Gallagher contacted Gonsalves on the evening of Feb. 13 after, according Giles, Gallagher met the BBC journalists.

“Very briefly, in a fleeting encounter, on Thursday, February 14th, Mr. Gallagher, told me that two BBC journalists were in St. Vincent and the Grenadines doing an investigative piece on Harlequin and he advised them to call my office for an interview.

“Mr. Gallagher never conveyed to me any message from the British journalists for me to contact them,” Gonsalves said.

He further asked if that is the way the BBC would threat British Prime Minister, David Cameron or his predecessors Tony Blair or Gordon Brown.

“Please, do not try to defend the indefensible,” he said in the letter to Giles.

The Prime Minister further said his three secretaries reported to him “the bullying, demeaning and insulting manner of the two journalists in their approaches.

“My secretaries are available to be interviewed on this by unbiased persons. Surely, only those with superior airs reminiscent of an out-mode colonial, baronial arrogance would think that rudeness and discourtesy are preferable to accepted norms of journalistic conduct,” he told Giles.

Gonsalves had initially written to the BBC about the “unprofessional approach” of Hill and Kenyon, who he accused of accosting him on board a landed aircraft in Barbados on Feb. 17, when they asked him to respond to an allegation.