MINISTER of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh yesterday blamed “severe fatigue” and not intoxication for his disorderly conduct on board a domestic flight from Tobago to Trinidad on Sunday.
He said in hindsight, he regrets his behaviour and has learnt his lesson.
Ramadharsingh, however, denied claims he had any physical interaction with flight attendant Ronelle Laidlow, 25, who has alleged he touched her breast when he reached for the identification badge that was pinned to her blouse.
Ramadharsingh has also denied claims he threatened to have Laidlow fired over the incident.
The Express yesterday exclusively reported that Laidlow made a report to the Piarco police sub-station and Airports Authority security against Ramadharsingh following an incident on board Caribbean Airline flight BW 1519.
Ramadharsingh yesterday spoke on the issue at an impromptu news conference after delivering the feature address at a function at the Capital Plaza in Port of Spain.
Ramadharsingh, who is the Member of Parliament for Caroni Central, said he had a long day on Saturday where he won a medal in a sack race, running a 100 metre sprint and conducting a walkabout in his constituency.
“What I would like to indicate is that on Saturday after spending an entire day in the constituency in walkabouts, we had a sporting activity, in fact I participated in that sporting activity and did indeed win the bronze medal in the sack race at Arena,” he said.
“I did participate in the 100 metres but I did not place. We had a very long day in the constituency and I had some meetings in Tobago where we are planning a major initiative with the Direct Impact. This collaboration has been taking place with our adviser on social outreach and we have been working with the THA (Tobago House of Assembly) in an entirely new and constructive manner to get some projects rolled out in Tobago,” he said.
Ramadharsingh said he also visited family, including his uncles and godparents, who were vacationing in Tobago at the time.
Following his tiresome day on Saturday, Ramadharsingh said he began to feel unwell on Sunday and opted to leave Tobago and return home earlier than planned.
He also contacted his personal doctor because he could not find a doctor in Tobago.
“On Sunday after spending some time with them (family) I was to leave much later on that afternoon. I decided to leave much earlier because I began to feel very unwell and I consulted with my friends in Tobago and I was unable to get a doctor available in Tobago. Therefore I called my physician and indicated that I would wish to see him much earlier on Sunday because I am returning home and feeling very, very unwell,” he said.
Ramadharsingh said because of his illness he sought attention from the operations supervisor at the ANR Robinson International Airport in Tobago.
“Feeling nauseous and quite ill, I returned with family members on the flight. I sat at a seat at the back and there was some conversations with an air flight attendant about fixing my bag which had to be placed several cabins ahead because of the space on the aircraft and also that she felt I should move to another seat at the front,” Ramadharsingh said.
“At the point in time I did not agree, reflection is always healthy. I believe that I should not have been perturbed by some of the requests that she made and I have since on arrival at Trinidad I did indicate my apologies and I do so again,” he said.
Ramadharsingh yesterday delivered and “unreserved apology” to Laidlow over the incident.
“I give an unreserved apology. We do run long hours and sometimes you do suffer ... in fact my doctor did indicate to me on arrival to Trinidad that I was suffering from severe fatigue,” he said.
“I do apologise if she felt that I was not co-operating but I was really really ... I had run a very, very long and arduous schedule which I should have not have and therefore this is my position on this matter,” Ramadharsingh said.
He, however, denied touching Laidlow inappropriately and threatening to have her fired.
“There are many other issues I would like to totally deny. There was no physical interaction, in fact members of my family were with me and I have the information from them that ... but I would really not like to say more than that because at least as far as I am concerned I have offered an apology for any statement or any lack of co-operation that was felt to be offensive,” Ramadharsingh said.
“I have no difficulty. ... I am in public life and I have no difficulty in saying that I regret reacting in a manner that might not have been the best way so to do and I give an unreserved apology to the individual,” he said.
Ramadharsingh said he did not try to get in contact with Laidlow.
He said: “I also want to clear up that I have not sought to contact the individual outside of any official investigation. I saw something in the newspaper where I said I wanted to meet her, I did not make that request and I have not.
“I have let the authorities do their work in this matter and I have expressed what I did indicate to you a while ago that in reflection maybe my reaction should not have been that way and I have now learnt that at all times, even if I feel something is not going the way it should, that there is a role for me to be very discreet and probably deal with matters after the fact.”
“I have learnt that lesson. Maybe expressing that I was not pleased with something maybe I should not have done that and for that I am ... there are some allegations there that I really don’t want to get into but I totally deny all of the negative allegations and I do not know why such a report exists, but as I said I am ready to really move on from this matter. I look at it and I see that it could have been handled much different,” Ramadharsingh said.