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Anil: No integrity probe against me (with CNC3 video)
Sport Minister Anil Roberts said yesterday that at no point was he ever the subject of an Integrity Commission probe, nor were any charges laid at his feet. At yesterday’s post-Cabinet media briefing he produced a statement from the commission, saying he was shocked and stunned at T&T Guardian stories.
Roberts said immediately after the first article appeared he contacted his lawyer—his brother Shastri Roberts—who contacted the Commission for clarification. He said the attorney received an e-mail at 3.15pm on Wednesday from the Commission. Roberts read the March 21 letter which stated that he had not been referred to the DPP “in any such form or manner or at all” as was described in the story.
A visibly angry Roberts liberally trashed author of the article Anika Gumbs-Sandiford, editor-in-chief Judy Raymond and Guardian Media Ltd. He said he had sent all three pre-action protocol letters requiring an apology, a front-page retraction and monetary compensation and said he would go to court if this was not obtained. He said all three should be ashamed for letting down the profession in T&T.
Roberts said he never spoke to Gumbs-Sandiford and she “fabricated” a quote in the story attributed to him. Quoting what he said was an international body for journalistic propriety and a journalistic code of ethics, Roberts said making up quotes was one of the greatest sins of the profession. He said he would write to Ansa McAL’s Gerry Brooks and “Mr Sabga” asking if this was the way their journalists operated and if this was the sort of ethics TG reporters are taught to perpetrate on T&T.
He is also sending a pre-action protocol letter over the next week to COP chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, Minister of Public Administration, for her comments in the second story.
Roberts said: “She failed to call me, her COP colleague, when the AG called me about the story, Roodal Moonilal called me, so did Jack Warner, Tim Gopeesingh and Fazal Karim. But my chairman didn’t call me. When I showed her the Integrity Commission’s letter she was the only one to read it twice and questioned the veracity of the contents and went on to mumble and mutter and I told her I hoped she hadn’t made any statements on something she failed to get the facts on.”
Roberts praised COP leader Prakash Ramadhar, who he said hadn’t rushed to judgment. He said he is also taking legal action against Reginald Dumas and Bishnu Ragoonath, who also commented. But he said would accept an apology from both, since he said they were duped into speaking. He is also taking legal action against i95FM, Daryan Marcelle, Andre Baptiste, Ricardo Phillips (former Boxing Board member), and Ian Prescott of the Trinidad Express.
Roberts said he had shown the Prime Minister the Integrity Commission’s letter on Wednesday and she looked pleased and relieved, “but she was saddened a journalist in T&T could be so wicked, malicious and untruthful,” he said.
Saying journalistic ethics were disregarded, he said: “Any journalist worth their salt will know if you had information, at least call the Integrity Commission and ask at least one question. Nobody ask for a whole interview. But one phone call is all it would have taken to ensure all this pain and suffering would not have taken place and T&T would not have been discussing a blatant untruth.
“You call on us to be accountable and attack us, but since you all are such bastions of integrity I call on you journalists to live up to your code of conduct and be accountable to your readers and listeners and each other—tell the truth.” Roberts said he is a no-nonsense person, a man of integrity whom nobody could cast aspersions on talk about corrupt activity or misappropriation of funds.
“I’m a stickler for accountability, transparency and fairness and equality for all,” he added.
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