National Security Minister Jack Warner should not only apologise for making erroneous statements but should also be removed from office, Congress of the People (COP) member Vernon De Lima has said.
De Lima yesterday denied he attended a meeting at the Maracas, St Joseph, home of former chief executive officer (CEO) of the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA), George Bell.
Bell, also speaking to the Express by phone, confirmed there was a meeting at his house but neither De Lima nor a former soldier who allegedly was engaged in a plot to assassinate the Prime Minister was in attendance. The meeting took place in February.
Bell said these were "fantasies" in Warner's head.
De Lima, a former COP vice chairman, said he intends to write the Prime Minister and the House Speaker on the issue.
Last Friday, in his contribution to the Defence Act (Amendment Bill) 2013, Warner said he received notes in his mailbox with respect to two meetings—one in Maraval and another in St Joseph.
Warner said the St Joseph meeting was held at Bell's house and in attendance was De Lima as well as a soldier—who had a criminal record and discussions were focused on destabilising the country.
COP leader Prakash Ramadhar had called for Warner to apologise to De Lima.
Yesterday, De Lima said he not only wants an apology from Warner but he also wants to see him fired as his remarks in the Parliament were further proof he was not fit to be a Minister of National Security.
"I don't know anybody called George Bell, I don't know him at all. I don't know any of the other names the minister called. I look at it as vicious and spiteful. You find two envelopes in your mailbox and then go to the Parliament to make a statement like that?" said De Lima.
"People talking about how I should sue, I am a lawyer for 47 years at the criminal bar, I don't want money, I want my name, I am not going to let Mr Jack Warner or anybody sully my name ... nobody has ever cast any aspersions against me like that, I feel very indignant about it, I think Mr Warner should apologise," said De Lima.
De Lima said Warner's actions signal that he was unfit for office.
"It demonstrates clearly that Mr Warner should not be holding that position, the man is holding the portfolio of Minister of National Security and he comes to the Parliament under the cloak of Parliament privilege and make a false statement and what's more he had the opportunity to rectify it but did not, in fact he's holding on to this untenable position," said De Lima.
Since June last year, De Lima had objected to Warner's appointment as National Security Minister and also tabled a motion within the COP calling on the party to leave the People's Partnership should the Prime Minister not take action in the FIFA bribery allegations and the findings of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The motion was defeated and De Lima resigned from the COP executive.
Yesterday, De Lima he said he was even more vindicated in the position he had taken.
He said, to be fair to Warner, he has nothing against him personally, his beef was that Warner should not be in the Cabinet until all dark clouds over his head were cleared.
"I took the position that he ought not even be a member of Cabinet, I said to the COP that the situation was repugnant and in direct contradiction to the principles we espoused," said De Lima.
De Lima said he wrote to Ramadhar with respect to the statement Warner made in Parliament.
He said he also waits to see how would the Prime Minister respond.
"I am respectfully of the view that Mr Warner is not fit and is not the proper person to hold that position, I think it is dangerous thing for him to be there, if this can happen to me, far less for other people," said De Lima.
"In these circumstances, we cannot entrust this serious responsibility of the Ministry of National Security to a man like Mr Warner, this is my honest and sincere opinion, take it or leave it," De Lima added.
Bell said he never met De Lima in person and only saw him on television.
He said the meeting was not secret as members of the banking, insurance, tertiary education and public sectors as well as former members of the military were invited.
He added that the meeting was held to discuss issues facing the country and not to plan any strategies to destabilise the nation.
Questioned on Warner's claim that a soldier who had a criminal record was at the meeting, Bell said "There was nobody there by the name of Soldier Barry, there was nobody there who had a tainted record."
Asked if former or present members of the military were at the meeting, Bell said there were, but they had no ill standing.
Bell said if was anyone who was destabilising the country, it was Warner and the People's Partnership Government.
He added that he does not expect an apology from Warner.
"I don't expect anything from Jack Warner, he is a problem that does not exist but will not go away," said Bell.
Warner, he said, is a man who cannot be changed.
"He will not apologise. I have gotten calls from people who have expressed their disappointment in Mr Warner but this is Jack Warner, you can't change Jack," Bell added.
Bell said he and others were concerned and fed up about the way the country was going.
"And the Government is excusing its own actions and as Jack Warner said before, yesterday is yesterday and today is today as far as he is concerned," said Bell.
"Jack Warner has no remorse, he is not born of that ilk. I feel sorry for him, quite frankly. He has a tremendous burden trying to sort out his portfolio here and he has other burdens on his plate, he is handling it badly, he's not performing," added Bell.
"Anybody who doesn't feel worried when Jack Warner speaks better go and sleep because Jack Warner is a worrying item," he added.