Carlos James, the Unity Labour Party’s candidate for North Leeward, on Wednesday said he has forwarded to his lawyers “who will decide on the appropriate legal action” recordings in which MP for the constituency, Roland “Patel” Matthews says James is a “criminal”.
James’ announcement came one day after Matthews, a member of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), citing a 2003 court matter, raised even more questions about James’ suitability as a candidate.
Mathews told I-Witness News on Sunday that he has evidence that James had paid a fine in court in relation to a matter.
James initially declined comment, but said in a written statement on Wednesday, “While I am aware of an incident some years ago when I came to the assistance of a motorist during a traffic incident the comments made by Mr. Matthews are in no way a true reflection of same.
“I find the comments made by Mr. Matthews most unfortunate and inappropriate.
“To this end, I have referred the recordings and comments made by Mr. Matthews to my lawyers who will decide on the appropriate legal action.
“It is my opinion that Mr. Matthews has succumbed to a deep level of desperation due to his poor performance as an MP and his fear of losing the North Leeward seat in the upcoming elections.
“While Mr. Matthews continues to lose support and popularity in the constituency of North Leeward we cannot accept this level of desperation as an excuse for his actions.
“In the interest of intended legal action, I may wish to reserve further comment on this matter,” James said.
The incident occurred on Dec. 13, 2002 at Little Tokyo, where James was accused of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, and using indecent language.
His former colleague at Searchlight newspaper at the time, Hawkins Nanton, told I-Witness News on Wednesday, that the other charges against James were dismissed, but he had pleaded guilty to the obscene language charge.
Nanton, however, said that he could not remember what penalty had been imposed on James after the guilty plea.
In a written statement issued in his personal capacity, Nanton, who is now a police spokesman, said, “… James was simply coming to my defence due to the exuberance of the police officer.
“That afternoon shortly after parking my vehicle at Little Tokyo, I was approached by the police officer in question, who in my opinion, conduct, did not reflect his professional training. He was very aggressive towards me and even when I responded to his questions he was not satisfied and continued being aggressive.
“James told the police officer that I had responded to his questions and this clearly caused the police officer to become more irate, which led to the said police officer scuffling James, bursting both James’ chain and watch.
“I believe that the incident started from a non-issue, but I am moved to speak about it over the maligning of James’ character in some parts of the media as a result of him making an effort to defend me,” Nanton said.
‘a kinda disclosure’
Speaking on his party’s radio programme on Tuesday, Matthews said what he made on Saturday was “a kinda disclosure.
“I made a kinda disclosure because information that I put out, people knew it before, but just a matter of somebody ‘fraid to crack the egg,” Matthews said.
He said that he is not “afraid” of his contender.
“What Patel Matthews wants is fair play. What Patel Matthews wants is for the Unity Labour Party to say to the people of North Leeward that the person we are bringing to run for our party, the person has a criminal record.”
Matthews referred to the 2010 general election when “all kinds of accusations were passed” about Margaret London when she was listed as a candidate for the NDP.
London had been convicted of an offence almost 30 years earlier.
“The NDP then (in 2010), along with Miss London, took a decision and she pulled out,” Matthews said.
He further cited a November 2010 I-Witness News article about the development surrounding London, in which the ULP made “a big hullabaloo” about the situation.
“The Margaret London fiasco proves the weakness of Arnhim Eustace and fractured leadership within the NDP…
“What does this major blunder say of a leader and party waiting to replace the ULP? Were proper background checks of the candidates’ conducted? If not, why not? Are there any more surprises in store for Eustace?” the ULP said in a statement in November 2010 about the London matter.
Matthews now has questions of his own about James’ candidacy and the ULP:
“I am asking the same question now. Were proper background checks done on Carlos James, Mr. Prime Minister?”
Matthews also said that Gonsalves is not running the country well and cannot find 15 suitable candidates to contest the general elections.
“We knew what happened in 2010. We are knowing now what is happening in 2015. There is a candidate [who] has been selected by the Unity Labour Party to contest the North Leeward seat. And this candidate has a criminal record.
“According to court documents, he was charged, he was taken to court, given bail, and he was fined. That is the way our court system operates. But at the end of the day, you have a criminal record. You cannot dispute that…
“I am saying this because people like to give an impression that all is well. And I have here some documents,” Matthews said, adding that the documents will “shed some more light … on how some people are deceitful and their continued practise of deception”.
I-Witness News understands that James’ record, like London’s and those of persons similarly convicted of offences, was wiped by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, which was passed in 2009.