Loose lips sink ships 2.0

Friday, October 11, 2019

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We never thought that we would have had reason to be saying this again. But given Wednesday's outburst by Justice Minister Delroy Chuck after the arrest of his former Cabinet colleague Mr Ruel Reid and four other individuals, it appears that we are in the silly season.

For those who missed it, we pointed out yesterday that loose talk is something human beings continue to live with but, understandably, the bar is set higher for people with important positions of leadership, especially Government officials.

Our discourse yesterday had its foundation in the foot-in-mouth declarations, first by Opposition Senator Dr Andre Haughton in the Upper House last Friday during a debate on breast cancer, followed by an offensive tweet by Government Senator Robert Nesta Morgan this week. Before both men though, Opposition Member of Parliament Mikael Phillips had his moment during a campaign meeting in the run-up to the presidential election in the People's National Party.

All three have since apologised.

In Minister Chuck's case, he withdrew his eye-opening comments quickly as he obviously realised, on reflection, that his verbal assault on law enforcement investigators was ill-conceived, particularly because of his position in the executive.

Minister Chuck was obviously aggrieved by the fact that agents from the Financial Investigations Division, Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency, and the Constabulary Financial Unit of the Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Division descended on the home of Mr Reid before dawn on Wednesday as part of their probe into allegations of fraud and corruption at Caribbean Maritime University.

“What is interesting,” he had said, “is that the DPP seems to have had no additional material or evidence, and what seems so unfortunate [is] that the arrests took place in what looks like Nicodemus in the night.”

He had also argued that the accused individuals could have been asked to report to the police, instead of being arrested at their homes. In addition, he appeared to suggest that the investigators were still fishing for evidence and cautioned them to ensure that they do not charge the then suspects “on very limited evidence with the end result being that the cases will not go very far” which, he pointed out, would undermine confidence in the institutions responsible for dispensing justice.

In withdrawing the comments yesterday, Mr Chuck said his declaration was “inspired by the fact that the media was present at all locations” during the early-morning raids.

As such, he acknowledged that his comments “were inappropriate” and he was withdrawing them “in their entirety”.

This episode, we expect, will serve as a reminder to Minister Chuck and indeed other public officials, and members of the Opposition, that they cannot and should not make statements that place into question their ability to uphold the integrity of their office.

We are happy that Mr Chuck's apology was a proper one, unlike those of senators Haughton and Morgan who spoiled theirs with poor excuses that took away from the necessary sincerity.

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