KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, March 10, IWN — Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has denied cancelling a meeting with a British lawyer after he learnt that two BBC journalists would also attend.
He said the assertion by Tim Giles, executor of BBC Panarama, is “an awful lie”.
Gonsalves, in a March 5 letter to Giles, said he was dissatisfied with Giles’ response to his complaint about an encounter with two BBC journalists in Barbados on Feb. 17.
Paul Kenyon told I-Witness News on Feb. 17 that he and hi colleague, Matthew Hill, “tackled” Gonsalves on the landed airplane after they failed to secure an interview with him here.
Gonsalves had initially said that he knew of the journalists’ request at 4:55 p.m. on Feb. 15 but could not meet with the s because of other engagements.
But he said in the letter to Giles that he later learnt that the journalist had contacted him on Feb. 14 also.
In his letter to Giles, Gonsalves wrote:
“I assert unequivocally that the following paragraph in your letter is a COMPLETE FABRICATION:
‘On the wider point as to whether you could spare the time to be interviewed by the BBC due to pre-existing commitments, we note that you offered to meet with Mr. Gareth Fatchett, a solicitor representing UK investors, on Friday 15th February, 2013 at his hotel, but when he told you that the BBC would also be in attendance, you withdrew your offer.’
‘This is an awful lie. I never spoke to Mr. Fatchett on Friday, 15th February 2013 at all; I never spoke to him in my entire life. I do not know him. I never offered to meet him on Friday, February 15th at his hotel or anywhere else. I thus could not have withdrawn any such offer because of the alleged or possible BBC presence. You guys have gone completely mad! You make up things as you go along for a convenient, self-serving and biased story. In any even[t,] were the BBC journalist and Mr. Fatchett working in tandem? Surely, this very assertion by you undermines at least the semblance of journalistic independence.”
Gonsalves said that he first time he knew about a British lawyer being in St. Vincent and the Grenadines “purportedly representing individual investors in Harlequin Property” was just before mid-day on Feb. 15, when he was being driven to Chateaubelair for a luncheon event.
Gonsalves has said Hill and Kenyon “accosted” him and were “rude” and “unprofessional” during their encounter aboard a landed aircraft.
The BBC journalists told Gonsalves three witnesses were willing to testify that Dave Ames, chair of Harlequin, owner of Buccament Bay Resort, had gone to the office of the prime minister with a suitcase of money and left without it, and asked him to respond to the allegation.
Gonsalves and Ames have both denied the allegation.