Editor-in-Chief of the T&T Guardian Judy Raymond says Opposition Senator Fitzgerald Hinds is out of place to imply that the media were vultures. Hinds, according to a newspaper report yesterday, said it was "vulturistic behaviour" for the media to "hound" Cheryl Miller, who was released from the St Ann's Psychiatric Hospital last Friday.
She was granted a week's leave from the hospital by the High Court after lawyers representing her argued on her behalf. Miller was removed from her desk at Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development 16 days ago and detained at Ann's after a confrontation with a senior employee.
The media, last Saturday, according to Hinds, encamped themselves under a tree near Miller's St Francois Valley Road, Belmont home, waiting to interview her. He said Miller and her sister Doreen, who are Seventh-Day Adventists, were waiting to go church on Saturday, their sabbath day, and could not do so because they were afraid to encounter the media.
Hinds, according to the newspaper report, later apologised for his outburst, saying Miller was traumatised and needed rest and some space from the media. On a radio programme yesterday, he again offered what seemed like an apology, saying he would never call anyone a vulture.
He said he may have said the media displayed a certain type of behaviour. Raymond said Hinds was "wrong-headed and out of place to call the media vultures. "He's been in public life long enough to know better. "If it weren't for the media, Ms Miller would almost certainly still be at St Ann's with no idea when or how she might get out.
"If it weren't for the media, there would not have been the massive public outcry that led to moves to have her released and the process by which she ended up at the hospital would never have been queried. "We were seeking the public interest."
Raymond said the media wanted to interview Miller after she went home because there was widespread public concern about her and people naturally wanted to know how she was feeling after her ordeal and her reaction to being released from the hospital.
She noted that no one had forced Miller to give any interviews and she seemed happy to do so. "I am sure she appreciated the opportunity to communicate in that way with everyone who was troubled by what had happened to her: her colleagues at the ministry, her fellow members of the Public Services Association and the population at large.
"The media are happy to step in and help people bring these incidents to light. "That's part of our job. We are an important channel for making known all sorts of injustices, scandals, and questionable events. "But we are independent. So people like Hinds can't simply use the media and switch them on and off like a light whenever they choose," Raymond said.
Seventh-Day Adventist pastor and psychologist Phillip Reid said the Miller affair had become a national concern and it is the media's job to cover those things. "That's their job. The media will want to be in everything," he said, when asked for a comment on Hinds' "vultures" remark.
Reid said the removal of Miller from her workplace and her detention was "quite a shocking development." He said the only thing that would have justified taking her to the hospital like that was if she was a danger to herself and others. He said subjecting her to that publicly would affect her self-esteem because of the stigma one suffers after attending the mental hospital.
Further, the drugs she received there as treatment can have serious side-effects, Reid said. He is the author of a book, The Love Therapy, which discourages the use of drugs in the treatment of people with mental-health issues.