Suspended deputy chairman of the Integrity Commission, Gladys Gafoor, is disputing President Max Richards's account of the events that led to her suspension.
Whereas the President in a release issued Sunday claimed that Gafoor was informed of her suspension prior to it being made public, Gafoor yesterday maintained she had no prior knowledge of what the President was contemplating before the information was released to the media.
In an interview with the Express, Gafoor further stated she was deeply disappointed in Richards. She also spoke extensively about an alleged conspiracy being waged against her by a particular individual whom she claimed was using the Express as the medium for this conspiracy.
Gafoor has been at the centre of a controversy following a dispute between herself and chairman of the Integrity Commission, Ken Gordon, a former chairman of Caribbean Communications Network, parent company of the Express and TV6.
Gafoor has since been suspended by the President who has appointed a tribunal to investigate whether she should be removed from office.
Following her suspension, Gafoor told the Express last week she had been given no notice at the time of the public announcement. But Richards's release on Sunday stated: "On February 9, 2012 a letter of suspension was sent to her. When it was established that Mrs Gafoor had received the letter of suspension, a media release dated February 9, 2012 was sent to the GISL, as is customary, for despatch to the media."
Asked about the fact that the President had issued a statement contradicting her assertion, Gafoor stated: "He could do whatever he likes. He could contradict as much as he likes. I know things that I should not reveal now. ... Whatever His Excellency, the President wishes to say, that is his right and privilege. But I stand by my word—that I knew nothing about what his actions were going to be."
Richard also stated complaints made by members of the Commission against Gafoor were drawn to her attention and "the intention to take further action was also drawn to Mrs Gafoor's notice".
But Gafoor gave a different version of the events. "To say the least, I was very disappointed in him and his actions as His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. But whatever he wants to say, he is entitled and free to say. But I knew nothing about what was coming. Because he had spoken to me and that is not the impression I got (that I would be suspended). But I will just have to deal with it in another place," Gafoor stated.
She claimed there was a conspiracy against her and she knew the originator and the members and people who were part of the conspiracy. And she said the Express which she claimed had been carrying adverse reports about her, was being used by the originator of this conspiracy. "I know the origin—and I am not blaming you (the reporter). But I know the person who is responsible for it will continue doing what he has said he would do. What could I do about this? I am just a peewat, what you call a sacrificial lamb, in the scheme of things. But I stand by my integrity and I stand by my principles and my values, which are sacred to me," she stressed.
Questioned further on the individual behind the alleged conspiracy, Gafoor said she had no doubt who it was. "I don't think (it is the person), I am sure of it because I have word that that is so. And I am not saying (it is) you, because I know that you are a fair person. But I am saying that there is a conspiracy against me, that there is no question about it and that it is being driven by someone and I know who it is." She added that she had "no control over that" but noted that conspiracies were broken in many ways.
Asked whether she would consider resigning her position on the Integrity Commission, Gafoor said: "Absolutely not. Resigning is not one of my options. I will not give up. I will not throw away my long judicial career at this point." She said she would not compromise her integrity, principles and values by resigning.
She said it was hurtful that after a long and distinguished career, "they want to drive me through the mud, to get rid of me and to destroy. And that has been said by a member of the conspiracy. But I won't tell you who."
This is the third Commission of which Gafoor is a member. She was on the Commission of Enquiry into the Baking Industry, the Commission of Enquiry into the Health Sector and was on the previous Integrity Commission.
"How has he (the President) lost confidence in me? Suddenly I am no longer suitable?" she said. She added that there has been a court matter vindicating her and indicating the other side was wrong.
Gafoor stated further that she never did anything fraudulent or criminal. "I did not claim money from my deceased husband. It was not my deceased husband." She said those making that claim must do the research and find out who is Anthony Gafoor "because it is not only my husband who is Anthony Gafoor".
She was referring to a court case in which she was accused of receiving cheques in the name of her deceased husband six years after his death. The cheques were supposed to be payment for a chauffeur for Gafoor who at the time was vice president of the Industrial Court.
The matter was taken to court and Gafoor won hands down.