Bryan "Soldier Barry" Barrington, one of the key individuals who, according to National Security Minister Jack Warner, attended a meeting in St Joseph at which people conspired to destabilise the country, has vehemently denied he ever attended such a meeting.
He also said yesterday he did not know attorney Vernon De Lima or businessman George Bell who Warner also alleged attended the meeting.
"I don't have such big friends," Barrington—a former Defence Force soldier—told the Express yesterday.
Warner, in the House of Representatives last Friday, named "Soldier Barry", Bell and De Lima among 15 people who gathered at Bell's home in Maracas, St Joseph.
"At that meeting he, Barry says, is time to destabilise the country and he discussed ways and means of doing so," Warner said.
Barrington, Warner pointed out, was one of the 16 people detained in an alleged plot to assassinate Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Yesterday, Barrington denied he was ever involved in anything designed to threaten the national security of the country. He said Warner was making statements without proper verification.
"I don't know where they getting their information from. But even self, you as a minister must confirm that the information you get is good. You can't just jump on the television so and say thing about people. This is terrorist talk. The man (Warner) talking about people wanting to destabilise the country. This is a serious allegation," Barrington said.
He said he was told because the statement was made in Parliament, he could not do anything about it. Parliamentarians are protected by privilege and therefore statements made in Parliament are immured from libel.
Barrington, who was detained during the State of Emergency in 2011, on an allegation that he was one of the people plotting to assassinate Persad-Bissessar, said: "They leave me lock up for two weeks and then nobody could explain anything and then they just let go me."
He said he was bitten by a police dog during a subsequent search.
"And now this (latest) incident," he said.
Warner had also said Barrington was charged and served time for "several murders".
But Barrington said he was charged in connection with one murder.
Told of Barrington's denial, Warner said yesterday: "Okay. Good."
Told that Barrington was the third person to challenge the veracity of his (Warner's) statements, the minister said: "Okay. I have no problem. All I would say is that I read an article in your paper where someone (an unnamed person) was interviewed and said they were there and give a running commentary of the meeting and what the house (at which the meeting was held) had and didn't have. So I was happy to read that (Wednesday). So I have nothing to add."
Asked if he was any closer to an apology to De Lima, Warner reiterated that he had nothing to add.
He had previously said if there were two Vernon De Limas who are both attorneys and he called the wrong one, he would apologise. Other than that, he had nothing to apologise for, Warner said.
Yesterday De Lima wrote to House Speaker Wade Mark seeking to invoke his right of reply in relation to Warner's statement.
Warner last Friday described De Lima as "a top class lawyer who is a former member of one of our partners" before naming him.
Warner then said: "He was there. ... He was there and other members as well."
In his letter to the Speaker, De Lima stated: "The facts are as follows: What has been said by Mr Warner is untrue. I have never attended any such meetings as alleged by Mr Warner or at all; nor do I know or have ever even met any person or persons by the names George Bell, Soldier Barry or Barry Barrington. What is more, I have never had any discussions with any person or persons whomsoever with a view to destabilising our country or subverting the lawful Government of our Republic."
De Lima added he was indignant at Warner's action.
"I consider his conduct to be not only improper but downright cowardly," De Lima stated.
Congress of the People political leader and Cabinet member Prakash Ramadhar has called for a public apology from Warner to De Lima.
And the Prime Minister has said if Warner's statements are proven to be untrue, he is entitled to withdraw them.
Bell also said he does not know De Lima or Barrington and that neither of them was present at the meeting which consisted of a group of citizens discussing the state of the country with a view to coming up with solutions. See editorial on Page 12