Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has been informed of allegations against Minister of the People and Social Development Glenn Ramadharsingh and acting Prime Minister Winston Dookeran says Ramadharsingh will be “dealing with the issue in due course.” Dookeran indicated that yesterday at a news conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair, where he was asked about allegations against Ramadharsingh by CAL flight attendant Ronelle Laidlow. It is now the subject of a police investigation. Laidlow, 25, claimed an issue arose during a CAL flight from Tobago on Sunday afternoon. She alleged the minister’s hand touched her breast when he reached for her ID badge, which was pinned to her blouse and he threatened to have her fired. She first reported the incident to security officials at the Airports Authority who referred her to the police.
Ramadharsingh yesterday denied all the allegations. At the Office of the Prime Minister after a Cabinet meeting, Dookeran told reporters the Prime Minister had been informed of the situation.
Dookeran added: “I have had discussions with the minister and he will be dealing with the matter in due course.” Asked if he was satisfied with the explanation, Dookeran said: “Well, it’s not an explanation, we just discussed the matter.” Yesterday, Ramadharsingh, in an interview with members of the media after an event dealing with street dwellers at Radisson Plaza, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain, said by way of explanation: “Me and my family were vacationing in Tobago. Meaning uncles, godfather, godmother and cousins on Sunday after and I was to leave later. I decided to leave early because I began to feel unwell and I consulted with my friends to get a doctor available.”
Ramadharsingh took the opportunity to apologise “again” to the flight attendant, saying he was ill and he regretted what occurred. He said he left the Arthur NR Airport at Crown Point and on the flight decided to sit in a “private” area in the back because he was ill. “There was a conversation with the air flight attendant because my bag was a distance away. She felt I should have moved to the front and I did not agree. I should not have been perturbed by the request she made and I indicated my apology.” Ramadharsingh said his physician claimed he had been suffering from severe fatigue due to a long and arduous schedule. “There was no physical interaction and members of my family were with me. I don’t want to say more than that and I offered an apology if that was an offence.” He said he made no requests, as claimed in reports, that he wanted to make contact with the flight attendant.
“Let the authorities do their work. Maybe my reaction should not have been so. Even though something was not going the way it should, I should have been more discreet if I was displeased. “There are allegations I don’t want to get into but I deny all negative allegations and I don’t know why such a report exists and I am ready to move on. It could have been handled differently,” he said. Senior members of the Police Service yesterday said a report was made to officers at the Piarco Police Station and they did not interview Ramadharsingh as yet and plans were being made to do so. They said statements were taken from the flight attendant and other members of the crew. Insp Mark Maharaj of the Arouca CID is leading the investigation.
Flight attendant takes time off
The T&T Guardian learned the attendant up to late yesterday was taking several days off on “vacation leave.” Friends said “she did not want to be involved with any incident concerning the minister and followed protocol if criminal allegations were made.” Discussions for counselling and other options to assist her were on the table and CAL had spoken to her regarding the matter.
The report is also being investigated by security heads at the Airports Authority of T&T. Zola Joseph, corporate communications manager at the authority did not comment on the issue.
Meanwhile, Jack Warner’s Independent Liberal Party yesterday called on Persad-Bissessar to immediately fire Ramadharsingh.
An ILP release stated: “Ramadharsingh’s overall behaviour, including his conduct prior to the take-off of the domestic flight, his reported physical assault of the flight attendant by grabbing at her identification badge and the issue of threats to have the young woman fired, is far worse than that of former Junior National Security Minister Collin Partap who was fired in August 2012 for driving a government vehicle with flashing lights while under the influence of alcohol and refusing to submit to a breathalyser test by the police. “Ramadharsingh’s behaviour is reprehensible and unfitting for a minister of government. It sets a bad example for the young people of our nation.” Head of corporate communications at Caribbean Airlines, Clint Williams, said no comment could be made at this time.