By Ayo Achebe
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, March 22, IWN — The two BBC journalists alleged to have made false declaration when they visited last month do not have any plans of returning to this country anytime soon.
Prime Dr. Ralph Minister Gonsalves told a press conference in February that the journalist — Paul Kenyon and Mathew Hill — falsely stated on their immigration forms that they had come to this country as tourists.
But Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security and Legal Affairs, said that the journalists came to the country to work and that they had committed an offence that is punishable by imprisonment.
Hill and Kenyon, who work for BBC’s “Panorama”, visited the country as part of a programme they were making about Harlequin, the company that owns Buccament Bay Resort.
A source close to the BBC said that although Gonsalves had not say whether any action will be taken against the journalists, Kenyon and Hill are not taking any chances.
“I have no idea whether making a false declaration on an immigration form would attract a prison sentence and what crime is being committed,” the source said.
When asked whether the journalists were concerned, the source said, “The offences that are supposed to be committed will attract a prison sentence and I don’t think anyone has any intention to return anytime soon.”
Dave Ames of Harlequin is a subject of interest by the British media, that country’s Financial Services Authority and the Essex Police.
Reports say Ames collected hundreds of millions of pounds from British pensioners for the construction of holiday homes here and elsewhere in the Caribbean but has yet to build all of them.
The BBC programme about Ames and Harlequin is being billed as “The Great Savings Wipe-out,” and is scheduled to be aired on Monday in the United Kingdom, though Vincentians may have to wait a bit longer — possibly Thursday — to see the programme.
The two journalists have found that their four-day trip to SVG has dominated the airwaves with Gonsalves accusing the duo of collaborating with the opposition New Democratic Party and its operatives rather than pursuing objective journalism, a claim that the BBC journalists and the NDP have denied.