Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar stood by National Security Minister Jack Warner yesterday, saying that if he was wrong about the claims he made with regard to a meeting at the home of George Bell, which he said attorney Vernon De Lima attended, then Warner was entitled to withdraw his statement.
However, Warner made it clear yesterday he had nothing to apologise for and was standing by his claim that a meeting was held at Bell's St Joseph house last month where De Lima as well as a man who had spent time in jail were in attendance.
"If there are two Vernon De Limas in this country who are both attorneys-at-law and I call the wrong one, I would apologise, but unless there are two, I will not," said Warner.
The Prime Minister interjected, saying: "Mr Warner has spoken on it, my respectful view is, should it be that this information was not correct, then the proper thing to do is for Mr Warner to withdraw the statement so until such time Mr Warner withdraws the statement, so until such time Mr Warner has evidenced this information, my own view is if the information was wrong then Mr Warner is entitled to withdraw that statement, so we'll have further discussions on it."
Last Friday, during the debate of the Defence (Amendment) Bill 2013 at the Parliament sitting, Warner said he received information in his mailbox with respect to two meetings—one in Maraval and another in St Joseph.
Warner said the meeting at Maracas, St Joseph, at Bell's home was of concern to him because discussions focused on destabilising the country.
Both De Lima and Bell have said they do not know each other.
Bell said there was a meeting at his house, but neither De Lima nor any member of the military with a criminal record was in attendance.
The meeting, Bell said, was called for a group of citizens to discuss the state of the country and come up with solutions.
No solution was centred on destabilising the nation.
Yesterday, the Express met a man who did not want to be identified but claimed he attended the meeting which was held at Bell's house on February 23.
He alleged that De Lima and a man named Barry Thomas were present at the meeting.
The man claimed he was invited by Bell to attend the meeting. He said the meeting started in the evening and went to around 9 p.m.
The man claimed the meeting was held in Bell's living room and everyone present introduced themselves by name—including De Lima and Thomas.
He said there was a table for refreshments where cake and drinks were available.
The man claimed those present expressed their concerns about crime and spoke about using the crime situation to inform the people of the poor governance of the People's Partnership government by advertising and promoting heinous criminal activities that were committed in the country.
The man claimed further that talks centred on Local Government elections and also reclaiming the St Joseph constituency seat for the People's National Movement.
Contacted yesterday and told about the man's allegations, Bell responded: "I am telling you Mr Vernon De Lima was not at that meeting. Are you saying that Mr Vernon De Lima is lying? I am telling you Mr Vernon De Lima was not at that meeting."
Asked if a Barry Thomas was at the meeting, Bell said there was, but he never spent any time in jail and was never incarcerated.
"I never met him or saw him (De Lima) other than seeing him on the television and hearing him on the radio," said Bell.
"You could invite that person who told you that they were there and they saw Mr De Lima there, invite them to call me, give them my number and invite them to challenge me with that," added Bell.
Contacted by phone and also told that a man claimed that he had introduced himself at a meeting at Bell's house, De Lima said: "That is impossible because I have never been to George Bell's house."