The death of former Unity Labour Party (ULP) South Leeward councillor, Edgar Cruickshank at a New Democratic Party (NDP) political meeting in Clare Valley on Saturday was the result of a “freak” accident that had nothing to do with the ULP, party general secretary Julian Francis has said.
“This party had absolutely nothing to do [with it]. Ralph Gonsalves or Julian Francis or anybody else in the leadership of the party; because the two names they are calling is Julian and Ralph.
“I ain’t including no other names, because that’s who they are accusing. And the statements they have made, they are subject to paying for their tongue. Some of them must pay for their tongue,” Francis said on his radio programme on Tuesday.
Cruickshank, a 78-year-old retiree of Questelles, died in hospital after being injured when a vehicle crashed into the crowd at the meeting.
Several other persons were also injured.
Cruickshank was attending his first political meeting of the NDP since he began campaigning with Member of Parliament for South Leeward, Nigel Stephenson of the NDP.
Cruickshank this year registered with I-Witness News his displeasure with the candidate selection progress in South Leeward, in which Sen. Jomo Thomas emerged as the ULP’s candidate, ahead of Grenville Williams, who Cruickshank favoured.
Williams had nominated Thomas at the constituency conference, although he did so with very little noticeable magnanimity.
Related: ULP South Leeward council member demands candidate selection runoff
“This Unity Labour Party is not, and has no reason to go on the defensive on this matter; absolutely no reason,” Francis said of Cruickshank’s death.
“And it is our commitment to Edgar Cruickshank that we will give him his final rites as a comrade of the Unity Labour Party. He is the man who wore the most red in this country — morning, noon and night. He took them off over the last couple of weeks, because he was upset,” Francis said.
“… this Unity Labour Party takes care of its own. Always do. We always do, and everybody knows that — both NDP and Labour people know that. [We] don’t make no excuse for it. So, the NDP in their desperation is trying to squeeze as much mileage and sympathy out of this accident that took place at their meeting that they want to lay blame of terrorism at the foot of Ralph Gonsalves and Julian Francis.
“Well, the police will carry out their investigation, the truth will be told,” he said.
“Naturally, because of what was happening with Crookie, it is a freak, as far as I would describe it, that out of this whole crowd that the person to have died from the accident was Cruickshank.
“And all sorts of persons may say all sorts of things, but that’s sheer coincidence,” he said.
Francis, however, suggested that he understands the concerns of some person after the incident.
“… as general secretary of a political party, … if we are having a political meeting somewhere and an accident takes place and persons in the crowd get damage, someone dies, that we will be very shaken up, we will be very upset and concerned, but we will not be making and become stupid and make desperate statements and take desperate positions,” he said .
He accused the NDP of “doing what they are doing out of sheer desperation”, adding that the party was trying to “squeeze political mileage and sympathy out of people”, but said that this will not work.
Francis said that the leaders of the NDP who were in Clare Valley and the party leadership generally “know that this is not a set up, as they are putting it”.
He told his listeners that it is being said that “there is a conspiracy and that persons were set up.
“… they have gone as far as saying that it was organised and in some cases, said to get rid of Crookie,” Francis further said, using Cruickshank’s nickname.
“But you don’t get rid of somebody you love,” Francis said.
The ULP official said Cruickshank had objected to the ULP running then incumbent South Leeward MP, Douglas Slater in 2005 and carried out a campaign against Slater, and was upset when Slater was selected, but voted for ULP in the 2005 and 2010 general elections.
“We know the circumstances in which Crookie got annoyed with us over the selection of Jomo as the candidate for South Leeward over Grenville Williams, who he personally supported, and he got pretty upset over it,” Francis said of Cruickshank’s most recent fallout with the party.
Related: Supporters walk out as Williams nominates Thomas as S. Leeward candidate
“But I say remember what happened in 2005 with Dougie (Slater), and in my own mind, I am convinced that had Crookie been around, whenever the elections were called, Crookie would have voted Labour,” Francis said.
Francis, a senator who is also Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport and Work, said that he does not only have official information about the incident in which Cruickshank met his death.
He said he visited the site in Clare Valley on Sunday and spoke to persons and to many persons in and around south leeward.
“And when I say based on information I have — information I have gathered from my different discussions and conversations with persons — I am convinced that it was a genuine accident, and nobody is going to drive me away from that,” Francis said.
“This is not a statement to influence the investigation. The police have the matter in hand and it is an investigation that is on-going, and when the NDP wants to turn that on its head, out of sheer desperation and the need to squeeze political mileage and sympathy out of people, it won’t work.”
Francis said he listened to Opposition Leader and President of the NDP, Arnhim Eustace on radio on Monday.
“They are bent on carrying this things that it was set up by the Unity Labour Party, that it was a suicide attack, that it was a terrorist attack, that we set it up, Ralph and Julian and others. That’s what their crazies on the Internet are saying, and some local ones too…” he said, supposedly of NDP supporters.
Related: 5 charges against driver of car that crashed into NDP meeting
“He (Eustace) never rebuked a single soul about any statement that was made on the weekend. And I am sure that he is aware of all that is happening on Facebook and the social media. He knows it. Vynnette (NDP spokesperson, Sen. Vynnette Frederick) will brief him,” Francis said.
Francis expressed condolences to Cruickshank’s widow, Cecelia and the rest of his family.
“I want you to be strong and take care of yourself. We love you very much, and we know that you love us very much.
“It is sad to see Crookie go, but these are things over which we have absolutely no control,” he said.
I read your statement julian, and all i can say is, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all the time. you and your cousin can go and give a great speech like you did at glen jackson’s funeral, this time don’t forget to play the song, i did it my way.
Well, well, Gonsalves is out of the country and another tragedy strikes. I have never heard anyone from the ULP or anywhere else suggest or accuse Gonsalves and Francis of being involved in the killing of Edgar Cruikshank.
What I heard in several places is that Francis is friendly with the driver Antwone Anthony, I do not know if that is true or false, and I am not saying or implying that it`s true. Perhaps Francis would tell us if there is any truth in that. Even if true that does not mean that Francis was part of a conspiracy, I would never suggest such a thing.
I would suggest that the police should inspect all the cell phone records of the driver and of those passengers in the car, who they spoke to over the previous hours, days and weeks. That is something that should surely be done as a matter of procedure in such circumstances.
I have been checking to see where the NDP leaders were creating chaos about the accident or whatever its called, and found nothing. I saw where on several occasions Arnhim and Nature Boy asked for calm. What more is the ULP asking them to do. There is an investigation and even the ULP should not be expressing views that the police investigation has yet to publish.
Unlike the ULP where all orders come from Ralph, the NDP supporters talk freely without looking for Arnhim consent. That is how it should be if SVG is a democratic society. This criminal incident by the gentleman is a serious issue and he must be punished for his deeds.
Then again the ULP should not be surprised that folks are looking in its direction. […]
When the ULP brass turns up at Edgars funeral it will not be comfortable for them. They would blame the NDP when the people boo them out of town. It is ironic because the ULP is responsible for the adversarial atmosphere on the island. It has created a divided society because of its obnoxious, dictatorial and rapacious behaviour.
I have a strong feeling that Ralph has to delay calling an election because of the recent issues facing his government and his party. He knows he will probably keep 6 constituencies. The rest will go to the NDP.
So Francis thinks that we are just going to believe everything he says with all the discrepancies surrounding the incident, just like that? Lord Jesus, come for your world please.
ULP not involved, you hear that good, investigators?
“Freak”? You call that “freak”?
Let me tell you freak: freak is a cheap fan bunning down the cesus in the Financial Complex. Now, that is freak.
Patrick, it wasn’t just the census, other documents were damaged and destroyed? We may never come to know what those documents were until we can get some forensic investigations going.
We may be missing or overlooking the more salient point. The problem has less to do with actually accusing the ULP and more to do with the fact that the thought of accusing the ULP can be is entertained in the first place. That is the salient point: that such a thought can enter our heads.
Fifteen years ago, it would have been an unfortunate accident, full stop. No more to it than that. Today it is more sinister.
Of all the places, in all the country, with all the cheap fans, is the census in the Financial Complex a cheap fan go bun down.
After that expensive disaster, was there a memo, a circular, instructions to remove all cheap fans from government offices? An obvious, sensible even mandatory precaution. If it was indeed the fan.
Millions of dollars, any heads rolled?
The police had to wait on the audit department to investigate the theft in the Registry. Whom did they have to wait on this time? Julian?
Was this Julians investigation?
How much was stolen from the Registry?
How much was paid back?
Who decides a thief simply pays back the loot they stole?
Excuse me if I do not believe the ULP, Julian or the Government.
Julian Francis’ statement almost blew my mind out of my head. He said, “the police will carry out the investigations…” But he has already concluded that it was a “freak” accident even before the investigations are completed. How did he arrive at that conclusion? Did he get that information from the investigators or from the ‘beings’ inside his head? Unbelievable!
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