“I have nothing to hide.”
That was the frank comment from Princes Town MP Barry Padarath when questioned yesterday about allegations he was the subject of a possible police investigation.
Padarath left the country on March 21, one day before Trinidad and Tobago closed its borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to travel to the US to be with his adopted daughter.
Over the past few weeks, however, allegations surfaced on social media that he was the possible target of a police investigation and a home connected to one of his relatives had been searched as part of an ongoing investigation.
Speaking to Guardian Media via telephone yesterday, however, Padarath said this was far from the truth.
“Not to my knowledge. I am almost certain that maybe those questions can be directed to the relevant authorities, but no authority has contacted me or advised me that I, Barry Padarath, is the subject of an investigation,” Padarath said.
“What I do know is that I will not be used as a desperate distraction by the PNM. I said from day one I would not let them use the circumstances of my child’s birth as a political football. I have nothing to hide!
“I will also protect my child and family from the PNM witch hunt and agents of the PNM looking for a distraction from their own political woes. It is the silly season and I expect to hear many other things. As far as I am aware, I have not been told by any authority about any investigation about myself.”
He said he also had no knowledge of anyone searching a house of his relative.
In a WhatsApp response to a question by Guardian Media on whether Padarath was the subject of any police investigation yesterday, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith would only say, “It would be improper for me to state who is, or is not being investigated.”
Meanwhile, Padarath also said he would like to return home but noted he could not due to his daughter’s status. “The situation is when I left the country, my child is an American citizen and was not permitted to come to Trinidad and the borders were being closed. Those circumstances have not changed and that is the reason I have not applied for an exemption,” Padarath pointed out.
Only Trinidad and Tobago nationals who have been granted exemptions by Minister of National Security Stuart Young can return to the country at this time.
But Padarath said he remained focussed on the upcoming general elections and has already thrown his hat into the nomination ring for the Princes Town seat.
“The Princes Town constituency executive has given me the nod and support to return as the MP in terms of my candidacy,” he said.
“So I have filed nomination for the constituency of Princes Town. The party, I am advised, has been using the technology of Zoom and other platforms to do the screening. So I am hopeful if I am not back in time for the screening that would be a medium they utilise.
“However, I know there are many talented persons in the UNC. My support continues to remain for my political leader and my party, regardless of the outcome because no seat is beholden to any one person. So while I remain hopeful, I am also reminded that this is a process and that many persons within the party I am sure may have offered themselves.”
He dismissed any suggestion that his absence from his constituency equalled negligence.
“I am in constant contact and many of my constituents know this for a fact because I deal with them on a daily basis whether it is through Zoom, Facebook, or Whatsapp in terms of bringing services and delivery to them,” he said.
Padarath said he was also been engaging with small and medium businesses on how to overcome the socio-economic impact COVID-19 has left in its path.
“I do not feel disconnected from my constituency at all. I think I am one of those MPs who have demonstrated even in my absence that I am very hands-on in bringing a measure of relief.”