Two plainclothes policemen were at the press table at parliament yesterday apparently pretending to be reporters and one was ordered away by his superiors after several journalists complained to the Clerk of the National Assembly.
The reason for their positioning at the press table remained unclear up to press time as the police have provided no explanation.
Stabroek News along with other members of the media covering day three of the consideration of the budget estimates became suspicious of an unfamiliar male seated at the table designated for media personnel during the morning session.
While some assumed that the man was new to the media fraternity, he was observed just casually occupying the space at the table as he did not appear equipped as a media person.
After some probing, it was discovered that the man was a member of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) after he was seen engaging other members of the GPF who identified him as an officer attached to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
The policeman remained at the table until just after 2 pm when another male who was suspected to be a CID rank came to replace him. This one, however, came equipped with what appeared to be a camera bag and a tripod stand which he placed in a corner. He at no point attempted to utilize his camera or tripod stand which led to the assumption that he was trying to impersonate media personnel.
As concerns over the positioning of officers at the media table grew, a decision was made to engage Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs for clarity. Stabroek News in the company of two other media personnel ventured to the Clerk’s office to raise the issue.
After relaying the issue to the Clerk, he said he was unaware of such before noting that while there are plain clothes law enforcement officers at Public Buildings, this is always done with the knowledge and approval of the Parliament Office.
“Police is there? But that is the press table…no they can’t do that…police can’t be there….the press is there with the permission of the Speaker. Anyone there should be there with the permission of the Speaker,” Isaacs said.
As a result, he moved to contact Police Commissioner David Ramnarine as part of efforts to determine under whose instruction the police sought to occupy space at the press table.
Coming out of the conversation between the Clerk of the National Assembly and Ramnarine was the disclosure that he did not issue any instruction to have the men posted there. He said he would contact someone in the division to check on the matter.
As a result, Isaacs offered the assurance to the members of the media present that the matter would be sorted out.
Not long after, two senior police officers showed up outside of the Chambers and a message was relayed to the rank who had up to that time remained seated at the table, to leave the table. Stabroek News understands that he was subsequently escorted off the premises.
Meanwhile, when approached for an update on the situation at the end of the afternoon session, Isaacs confirmed that the men were policemen and that the remaining one was asked to leave the chambers.
However, as of yesterday afternoon it remained unclear whose authority the ranks were posted at the media desk and what was the reason for their presence, as Isaacs stated that he did not enquire from the officer who instructed him to be there.