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Harry, lawyer in verbal clash
A fiery verbal exchange yesterday, with racial overtones, erupted between English Queen’s Counsel Edwin Glasgow and former president of the Hindu Credit Union (HCU), Harry Harnarine, after Glasgow told Harnarine he was making an ass of himself. The verbal clash, which caused tempers to rise and led to a call for a break in the proceedings, took place at the Clico/HCU commission of enquiry at the Winsure Building, Richmond Street, Port-of-Spain. Glasgow, working for the commission, was cross examining Harnarine in the afternoon period when the exchange took place. He told Harnarine he made an ass of himself in front of thousands who were watching the enquiry on television because he did not know what the letters in PEARLS, a financial monitoring system, meant. “What did you say? Did I hear properly?” Harnarine, clearly offended, asked Glasgow, preventing further cross-examination. “I am not here to take any insults. I am not here under massa days,” he said.
The atmosphere in the room became charged with tension. Harnarine, preventing Glasgow from carrying on, continued: “I will not have him coming in my country and telling me I am making an ass of myself. Why are you offending my dignity and behaving so? Is it because you are British and I am East Indian?” he asked. Telling commission chairman, Sir Anthony Colman, he demanded an apology from Glasgow, Harnarine said: “I feel Glasgow is losing his objectivity and balance. How can I feel comfortable in this enquiry? How can I co-operate with you? I demand an apology.” Colman, making no move to comply with Harnarine’s request, told him instead he (Harnarine) was the one who used the “four letter animal” (sic). Glasgow, however, recounting how he told Harnarine he was making an ass of himself, apologised.
An attorney then suggested it was a good time to take a break and let temperatures cool a bit. After the short break, a much composed Harnarine said he had something to say. “Mr Chairman, because of the amount of money the State is spending (on the enquiry), I will let bygones be bygones. I will continue to co-operate with the inquiry. I don’t even want an apology,” he said. Glasgow promptly resumed his cross-examination of Harnarine, this time in a more polite manner. The locking of horns between Glasgow and Harnarine came after Harnarine told the QC about “how much you all are being paid,” Harnarine also told Glasgow he was using sarcasm and launching personal attacks against him. That came after Glasgow told Harnarine he was giving himself a lot of self-praise. Harnarine also reminded Glasgow he was from a foreign country and he should respect this country’s Parliament. Glasgow told Harnarine thousands of depositers had lost their money but Harnarine countered they had not.
He said the Government, through an Appropriation Bill, promised to pay back depositors through a $300 million loan to the HCU. “People have not lost their monies. You know you are from a foreign country. You should respect our Parliament. People are receiving money all now,” Harnarine said. Glasgow also took a turn on members of the media, saying reporting Harnarine’s remarks about people were “grossly unfair.” He said it was being carried without allowing them an opportunity to respond. A major part of Glasgow’s cross-examination consisted of going over the attendance of special general meetings called by the HCU to pass important resolutions, like decisions to create international companies with HCU money. Glasgow sought to show they were attended only by a fraction of the membership and, in some cases, there was no record of attendance. Harnarine countered the minutes recorded the number of people who were there at the start of the meeting and said the original records should be available to show how many really attended. He said it was a part of a laissez-faire Trini culture not to attend business meetings.
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