Member of Parliament for West Kingstown, Daniel Cummings, has called on radio stations on which comments about an article published in Searchlight on Nov. 22 were made, to follow the newspaper’s lead and apologise “or else”.
Searchlight, in a Page 1 apology on Friday, said contrary to its story the previous week, it has “no evidence on which to rely that Mr Daniel Cummings has knowledge or otherwise took part in the demolition” of a house.
The paper expressed “regret” to Cummings and apologised to him “for any embarrassment or inconvenience which may have been caused to him”.
Speaking on radio on Monday, Cummings said that he had accepted the newspaper’s apology.
He, however, said he was waiting for Star FM, a station owned by the ruling Unity Labour Party, to do likewise.
“I am waiting on that radio station to retract the nasty things they said about me, and I am giving them public notice,” Cummings said, adding that it was the first time he was commenting publicly since the newspaper article.
“I took my licks stoically … I listened to them, and I have the tape … They took that article, and at a time when I was competing for the chairmanship of the [New Democratic] Party, they dragged my name and my family in the mud, and I want to tell them that I heard them and I said nothing until now.
“… I am saying there are radio stations in this country which read that article and dragged my name in the mud and I am saying to them now, act responsibly or else,” Cummings said.
The Searchlight article came two days before Cummings competed with Dr. Linton Lewis for chairmanship of the NDP.
Both men garnered 135 votes each, and Cummings opted out, saying he did not think that he had beaten his colleague, the incumbent chairman.
“They took it and read it like it is the gospel,” he said of Star FM.
“Let them go on. They should remember what their boss did to people who read a certain paper from Trinidad,” he further said in reference to former host of the NDP’s daytime radio programme, E.G. Lynch, who Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves sued after Lynch read on air an article published by a Trinidad newspaper.
“And if they think the matter is finished, the Searchlight apologised and I take it. But they will find out who I am,” Cummings further said.
Cummings said the Searchlight article “has been a real nasty and vicious attack … where they have taken an issues and completely turned it around and made me the villain, when all I was endeavouring to do and still I am endeavouring to do is bring my family together”.
Cummings said that his father died in 1982, and in 2000 he was asked to be the administrator of the estate.
“We all agreed to share up what was left among three of our siblings and that was done with mutual agreement, total agreement back then, between 2000 and 2003,” he further said.
Cummings said that one of his sisters, who lived in England, came home in 2005 and built “a proper house on the part that she got.
“There is supposed to be an access road to her property and a third property on which a small house stood but we agreed that the house should stay there until such time, because when the land was cut up, it was not there.
“Now that she wants the road, some of them say no, you can’t move the house, that is the bone of contention,” he further explained.
Cummings said he has been working with all parties “to try and agree to mend the fences, to try and offer little conciliatory things here and there to resolve the matter in-house, peaceable as family do.
“But lo and behold, they feel that they have a case and they want to test it in the court. They went before the court and filed an injunction aback of my sister and got an injunction banning my sister and my brother from going on the land. The judge heard that and decided that that cannot hold and threw out the injunction.
“Now, I was not involved in the case, I was not party to it. I was not in court; I was not even in the country when it was done. The judge ruled only on that injunction. There is nothing before the court relating to the demolition of the house or anything like that,” he said.
Searchlight quoted a lawyer as saying that the court has ordered that the matter be resolved without the house being demolished.
“.. for the article to state that the judge made an order that the house should not be [demolished], that lawyer, in making that statement — well, let me leave it at that; it is really unfortunate,” Cummings said.
“There is no truth to it at all. … I had nothing to do with it; I was not a party to the court matter, I was not in court I was not even in the country and the judge made no such order. So, for a lawyer to make such statement, implying that I am violating the court order is the most sickening — I mean it is the most libellous, slanderous, dangerous, nasty accusation you can make; and singled me out, when all I was try to do was to make peace in my family,” Cummings said.
He said he is “grateful that the Searchlight has cleared my name.
“And I want to make the point, when I read the article two weeks ago, I was distraught, because no one would understand how painful that was, because exactly the opposite of what was written there by people who knew better, they wrote the exact opposite of what the facts are.
“And unlike certain people, who, when you speak the truth about them and they get annoyed, go to the papers and say pay me some money and apologise, I do not use that. I say to them, listen, clear my name. That is all I am asking you. Clear my name. I didn’t demand one penny…” Cummings further said.
He further said there are not a lot of people “with some level of integrity, a conscience, and who act on principle and that is why I say, you know, we are human beings, we make error.
“They have come out and they have made it clear that their article is wrong and they have apologised. I accept that; that is who I am; because my name…”
Cummings said that he has worked hard to bring his family together.
“My family is everything I have and that newspaper deliberately, because I am a parliamentarian, painted a picture of me, the complete opposite…”