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Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, March 10, IWN — A recording has journalist Paul Kenyon identifying himself as from “BBC Television” when he spoke to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves in Barbados on Feb. 17, the BBC says.

“I heard no such introduction in the general din of several passengers opening overhead bins, and other noises, in a small Dash 8–300 aircraft of 50 passengers in a tight space,” Gonsalves however said in a letter to Tim Giles, editor of “Panamora”, the BBC programme for which Kenyon works.

“Mr. Kenyon’s voice must have been inaudible to most of the unsuspecting ears. I tell you emphatically that I heard no such introduction from Mr. Kenyon,” Gonsalves further said in the March 5 letter, in which he expressed dissatisfaction with Giles’ response to his complaint about Kenyon’s “unprofessional” approach during the encounter.

Kenyon and his colleague, Matthew Hill, asked Gonsalves aboard a landed airplane about an allegation about investor Daves Ames going to the Office of the Prime Minister with a suitcase of money and leaving without it — which Ames and Gonsalves have denied.

“It was simply improper for Mr. Kenyon to have ‘tackled’ me in this way,” Gonsalves said, using the verb Kenyon used in an interview with I-Witness News on the day of the incident.

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“In any event, by your own admission, your BBC team began to film me before Mr. Kenyon even spoke to me. It was clearly their settled intention to ambush me, not in the interest of truth or sound journalism but in a quest of infantile drama for tabloid television so as to satisfy those with caricatured images of ‘Third World’ leaders,” Gonsalves further said.

The BBC has said Kenyon and Hill failed to secure an interview with Gonsalves during the four days they were here as part of an investigation into Harlequin, the company that owns Buccament Bay Resort.

BBC journalist Paul Kenyon.
BBC journalist Paul Kenyon.

Gonsalves had initially said that the BBC team did not contact him until Feb. 15, one day before they were scheduled to leave St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

He said in the letter that he learnt a week later than the journalists had contacted his office on Feb. 14.

He further said in the letter that by Feb. 13, the journalists had already made the determination to “door-step” him.

When a journalist doorsteps somebody, he or she waits uninvited outside the person home, office or other places in order to obtain an interview or photograph.

The technique is often used with persons who are reluctant to answer telephone calls or grant interviews, or who are trying to evade the journalist.

“They were not interested in truth and fairness in their eagerly-awaited ambush/tackle of the Prime Minister,” Gonsalves said of the BBC journalists.

“It was the ‘gotcha’ journalism of the tabloids. … I have a witness who is prepared to testify that your BBC team wanted ‘to door-step’ me!” Gonsalves further said in his letter.