Collin Partap, Member of Parliament for Cumuto/Manzanilla, yesterday broke his almost two-week-long silence and spoke out on the details that precipitated his removal as minister in the Ministry of National Security.
Though Partap pledged his continued support for the ruling People's Partnership, his statements painted a picture in contrast to what has been previously relayed by some Government members on the issue.
"It is not true. At no point did I ever say no to the breathalyser. At no point was I drunk and I want to dispel the allegations that have been levelled against me," Partap said yesterday.
He made the statement to a packed constituency office and was greeted with loud applause as he took a seat to address the crowd.
"I have no malice for anyone, I just want to state my side of the story," he said.
"I made some mistakes ... your MP is not a drunk."
Partap detailed the incident in question, early on the morning of August 26, when he was pulled over by police officers after leaving a Port of Spain nightclub at 5 a.m.
Initial reports from the incident stated that police officers pulled Partap over after noticing blue police-like lights on his vehicle.
Police then requested a breathalyser test on the spot, which they said Partap refused. He was subsequently taken to Belmont Police Station, where he eventually took the test an hour after he was first stopped and only after acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams arrived at the station.
Police have not yet laid any charges against Partap.
"I was asked to do the breathalyser, I said yes. At no point in time did I ever say no to a breathalyser. I waited, the police officer then came to the window and said we need to take you down to the Belmont Police Station to do the breathalyser as there was none on site. I again complied," he said.
Partap said despite reports, he did not have a bottle of alcohol in his hand when he was getting in the vehicle, but admitted that he may have inadvertently turned on the police-like blue light when he tried to turn on the vehicle's air-conditioning.
"You can't tell from the inside of the vehicle, because it's on the grill. I may have put it on accidentally," he said.
Partap said despite his compliance, he heard "utterances" from the officers which left him "gravely concerned" and later prompted his call to Williams.
"I went into the vehicle and sat behind the driver's seat, I was told 'get around, move over'," he recalled, repeating a harsh tone from the police.
"They said 'we going to get this one tonight', that made me think: What if I take this breathalyser, what would be the result? I wanted somebody independent there and I think anyone of you would have felt that way. I first called my lawyer, he did not answer the phone, I then tried the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Mervyn Richardson), he did not answer, I then called the Commissioner and he answered," Partap said.
"I did not ask the Commissioner for any favours, but just to be an independent observer of what was going to take place. I did not think that was an abuse of power," he said.
Partap said he saw pictures taken during the breathalyser test and of him on his mobile phone in the police station. He said no civilian was there at the time and as such those pictures had to have been taken and circulated by police.
"I have been the butt of many jokes in the last week. Those pictures were taken by police officers, I have no doubt about that," he said.
Partap said he will be writing to the relevant authorities to investigate the origin of those photographs.
While Partap thanked Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for the opportunity to serve in the Government, he refused to comment on anything regarding his former boss, National Security Minister Jack Warner.
"My opinion is the PM did what she had to do. I won't comment on anything Mr Warner has said," he said.