T&T AG warns reporter over family visits
(Trinidad Express) Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has threatened to take the Express newspaper to court to prevent publication of a story and to sue for defamation should the paper publish “falsities”.
The AG’s attorney, Pamela Elder SC, in a letter to Express editor-in-chief Omatie Lyder dated September 5, 2013, stated she has advised her client that he is “entitled to bring a claim for inter alia defamation and there is a realistic prospect of success of such action before the courts”.
The Express, in keeping with sound journalistic principles, had embarked on an investigation following certain reports.
Investigative reporter Anika Gumbs therefore journeyed to the AG’s Palmiste home last Tuesday to interview his wife Nalini and also went to his in-laws’ Barrackpore home last Wednesday where certain questions were asked.
In the interest of balanced and fair journalism given a statement made by the AG’s mother-in-law Shantee Nanan, Gumbs telephoned Ramlogan for a comment on Wednesday evening. Ramlogan said he was in an important meeting and would call back. He took Gumbs’ number but did not return the call.
That same evening, Ramlogan telephoned Lyder claiming that Gumbs had pretended to be looking for a place to rent when she approached his in-laws.
Gumbs has denied this.
Later on Wednesday night, a list of questions was e-mailed to Ramlogan by Gumbs.
Questions related to the investigative story were also sent to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
The AG acknowledged receipt of the e-mail but did not answer the questions.
Gumbs followed up by attempting to meet face to face with the AG following the weekly Cabinet meeting on Thursday.
Ramlogan was not present at Cabinet.
Gumbs then telephoned him and put the allegations to him.
His response was, “I have nothing to say to you ma’am.”
On Thursday evening Elder wrote a three-page letter to Lyder accusing Gumbs of pretending to be a family member to get information from his wife and impersonating a police officer to enter the compound of his in-laws’ home in the company of a male companion of African descent.
Elder advised that pretending to be a police officer in order to gain access to her client’s in-laws’ home Gumbs had contravened section 62 of the Police Service Act Chap 15:01 which provides that any person who “in any way pretends to be a police officer for any purpose which he would not by law be entitled to do of his own authority, is liable on summary conviction to a fine of thirty thousand dollars and to imprisonment for three years”.
The Express record shows that Gumbs did not impersonate a police officer to gain access to the compound as on meeting the AG’s father-in-law Samlal Nanan, Gumbs said, “Uncle how are you going, we (identifying photographer Innis Francis) are from the Trinidad Express,” and later, on meeting the AG’s mother-in-law, Gumbs said, “We are from the Trinidad Express.”
Gumbs has denied not identifying herself to the AG’s wife and further said she was recognised by the AG’s helper who was at the home at the time as the helper and Gumbs had worked at the Guardian South Bureau at the same time in the past.
Gumbs has denied that she impersonated a police officer or said she was a relative or friend of the family in all interviews conducted during the pursuit of her story.