Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Moonilal: ‘Emailgate’ claims never proven as facts

...as Opposition Leader alleges abuse by Govt

To date, the allegations made by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley with respect to “emailgate” have never been proven as facts, says Go­vernment Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal.

Speaking on the Libel and Defamation (Amendment) Bill, 2013 at the Parliament sitting yesterday, at Tower D, Inter­national Waterfront Cen­tre, Port of Spain, Moonilal said the allegations were grave and this was why Rowley was taken before the Parliament’s Privileges Com­mit­tee.

“It is a fact, the member came to this House with papers in his hand purporting to be e-mails, and he read those things that cast serious aspersions on the character and integrity of members of Par-

­liament, including the Prime Minister,” said Moonilal.

“...To this day, no relevant authority or agency can say that these are facts, they can’t to this day,” he added.

He said time ran out and the parliamentary session came to an end, therefore, Row­ley escaped the Privileges Committee.

Moonilal said when someone comes to Parliament and produces a piece of paper that alleges murder and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, there was no abuse in sending him to the Privileges Committee.

In his contribution, Rowley accused the People’s Partnership Government of abu­­-

sing the Parliament and the Privileges Committee when he was hauled before it last year over the emailgate controversy.

He said he was forced to defend himself before this committee as it was Government’s intention to expel him from Parliament “for offending them”.

Earlier in the debate, Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh slammed the former People’s National Movement (PNM) government for inti­mi­dating the media, in particular, Newsday.

The debate became a tit-for-tat as Government members accused the PNM of be­ing biased towards the media and the PNM members lambasted the Government for attacking the media du­ring its tenure.

Rowley cited two occasions where the former Basdeo Panday-led United Na­tional Congress (UNC) was against the media.

He said the former UNC government was responsible for ousting media personality, Barbados-born Julian Rogers from Trinidad and Tobago because of offence over his hosting the TV6 Morning Edition programme.

Rowley added the former UNC government also moved for Jones P Madeira to be removed from the Guardian newspaper because of the head­­line “Chutney Rising”.

“Jones P Madeira was removed from the Guardian; he was a veteran media person from this country. He had to leave the media environment because a UNC prime minister said publicly that the government of Trinidad and To­-

ba­go will not deal with the Guardian,” said Rowley.

He said further that under the People’s Partnership Government, journalist Maxie Cuffie was forced to write Tabaquite MP and Government Minister Suruj Rambachan, taking issue over Government’s position to not advertise in the Mirror newspaper.