The saga in which the court sent former model Yugge Farrell for psychiatric evaluation after she allegedly used abusive language to the Finance Minister’s wife will be remembered for a long time
So says former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell, who said that scandals like these have brought down many governments.
Farrell, 23, has claimed, since after her Jan. 5 arraignment on a charge that she used abusive language at Karen Duncan-Gonsalves, that she was in a years-long relationship with her husband, Camillo Gonsalves, 45, which ended in 2016.
Some persons have noted that no information was given to the court to support the prosecution’s application for the psychiatric evaluation.
Farrell, who pleaded not guilty to the charge, has been granted EC$1,000 bail with one surety and is slated to reappear in court to face the charge on Dec. 17, 2018.
The matter has galvanised local, regional, and international attention.
Sir James, who retired from electoral politics in October 2000 and has commented intermittently on national issues, spoke about the Farrell saga on Boom FM on Wednesday.
“The crisis with Yugge Farrell is not a joke. People are concerned all over St. Vincent. Vincentians are marching in Toronto and in Montreal and in the United States and they word is out there and any Vincentians who travel now have to explain themselves. ‘What’s going on in St. Vincent? What’s going on with that?’ And you want to tell me we don’t want to discuss this in Parliament…
“The problem is fundamentally sending the girl to the mental institution. That is not going away,” he said.
It was noted to Sir James that in his own government, persons, including himself, had children outside of marriage.
“I never sent anyone to a mental home,” Sir James said.
“I’m not talking about your rights about having a child or having an affair,” he said, adding that his questioning mind has wondered about the relationship between Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene.
“I don’t want to go there. I got into trouble with that kind of thing before with that kind of thinking. I have a very inquiring mind. And it is not a question of infidelity. It is a question of what has become of this girl and why. What are the circumstances of this matter? There is rumour about abortion. All of that kind of thing should be explained,” Sir James said.
“‘If you play the fool with me, mental home for you.'”
He said that the development has brought to the fore the “element of fear in our society — using a mental facility.
“It is not Yugge Farrell alone you know. It is a question of sending a message to people: ‘If you play the fool with me, mental home for you.’
“Not just jailing as they were going to jail me over Ottley Hall and I had to go to the Privy Council to get my [justice]; it is the element of fear in the society that the Yugge Farrell [matter highlights].”
Sir James has been in a long-running battle with the Unity Labour Party administration over the Ottley Hall Marina, which was built under his New Democratic Party.
However, a years-long inquiry that the government conducted ended prematurely and without citizens knowing if there were, in fact, any untoward goings-on there, as the Ralph Gonsalves Unity Labour Party had claimed.
In January 2015, the Privy Council ordered that the sole commissioner take no further part in the inquiry.
The London-based tribunal, which is this country’s highest court, ruled that the Interim Report on the Ottley Hall Marina Project by the commissioner retired High Court judge Ephraim Georges, “contains far too many firm statements of the misbehaviour of the appellant”.
The appellant, Sir James, had accused Georges of apparent bias, a submission that the Privy Council upheld.
Sir James said Wednesday that his view that the Yugge Farrell saga is not going away “is not just my opinion.
“Ask anybody in the street…” he said.
‘Everybody in St. Vincent talking about it; the foreigners talking about it,” he said, noting that the New Statesman, a British magazine with a circulation of 35,000 has reported on the development, which has also been widely reported on the internet.
“… it is there going around the world and we have got to address it here in St. Vincent. It is not going away. There is an emotional feeling in the people about the Yugge affair. Not just reason.
“… You cannot explain away emotion and it is the feeling of people in respect of intimidation, … that if you’re with us, you get rewarded, if you are not, you don’t get rewarded; if you behave yourself we will reward you. The people. Are saying ‘We are Yugge! We are Yugge! We are Yugge!’ Get that straight. That is the emotion that Parliament can’t deal with or dispose of.”
The opposition failed in its effort late January to bring a motion of no confidence in the government, which political observers say was intended to target the finance minister.
The government persuaded the Speaker to allow them to debate instead, a motion of confidence, having thereby amended the opposition’s motion.
The speaker has since said on social media that he was wrong in allowing that to happen.
Sir James said it is a terrible thing when a government is facing an issue that is not going away.
“I’ve been in government and I know what hurts. When you see a problem that’s not going away, terrible. You begin to say, … like the song you might want to say, ‘Like a bridge over troubled waters, lemme lay down.’ And I’m sure it has dented the confidence of the members of parliament. “
Sir James said that he has had some of these same problems in different constituencies and how it began to erode the confidence in the NDP.
“This question of affairs with ladies have brought down many a government,” he said, mentioning the 1961 brief affair between John Profumo, the UK Secretary of State for War in Harold Macmillan’s Conservative government and Christine Keeler, a 19-year-old would-be model.
Two years later, the affair brought down Macmillan’s government after Profumo’s denial of any impropriety, in a personal statement to the House of Commons, was refuted a few weeks later with his admission of the truth.
Sir James said that while Macmillan’s government fell because of national security considerations, in the case of SVG, it is a question of the element of fear being felt in the society.
“Fear with regard to not being able to leave your home, violence in the society, violence against women, all these kinds of fears. There is a lot of fear in the society…
“This Yugge Farrell thing is not going away. It will be a history event in St. Vincent. I can foretell that. If you want prophecy, people will be remembering this. That if you insult me, you might end up in the mental home. That is a cloud that is not going away at all,” Sir James said.