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November 4, 2005

The Prime Minister has announced his intention to write Mustique resident, Tommy Hilfiger about the use to which some of the t-shirts he (Hilfiger) donated have been put.

At a meeting of the Unity Labour Party (ULP) in Marriaqua last Sunday, the Prime Minister held up a white t-shirt bearing the Tommy Hilfiger logo, a photograph of New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate for Central Kingstown, St. Claire Leacock and Leacock’s name. This, the Prime Minister said, suggests that Hilfiger endorses Leacock, and “is a dishonesty because Hilfiger does not get involved in Vincentian politics.” {{more}}

The Prime Minister is also taking issue with Leacock’s statement that he, the Prime Minister is “out of place.”

“How could I be out of place; (a) I am the Prime Minister, and (b) I am the man who you asked to beg Tommy to send the t-shirts,” quipped the political leader.

Leacock, who is also President of the SVG Football Federation, on the WE FM “Double Trouble” radio program on Monday said that he wrote to Hilfiger on July 7, 2004, asking for, among other things, 10,000 t-shirts “wearing the Tommy Hilfiger brand as well as the team SVG logo” to sell to football fans to raise funds for the federation.

According to Leacock, 5000 t-shirts in red, grey and white were received by the Federation. The Federation’s efforts to sell the t-shirts have apparently met with little success. “We have done very poorly in selling them. We have tried very many times,” he admitted.

He went on to say, “I have purchased from the Football Federation a quantity of jerseys and in fact printed 72 jerseys thus far, and intend to print additional jerseys because there is no conflict of interest and no ethical dilemma in the situation. He continued, “I do not see the ethical consideration. Any Joe Blow that purchases the jersey can do anything that he wants on the jersey and it doesn’t represent a responsibility or accountability or conflict of interest of any sort as is being insinuated.”

Leacock said he could not remember the exact date he purchased the

t-shirts, but reasoned it was the week before the launch of his campaign on October 2nd. When pressed for the price he paid, he seemed not too sure saying, “I think a fair average price to pay for them is $10 each. I think that is a fair price to pay for them.”

The NDP candidate for Central Kingstown had prefaced his statement on WE FM by saying that he has loaned the SVG Football Federation money for airline tickets, phone bills, water and travel documents on many occasions. He disclosed that only three months ago, a commercial bank “relieved” him of the security of $200,000 which he had stood for the Football Federation. “I want you to understand in a very deep and profound manner that I have been financing football significantly… waiting for months and cannot be repaid.”

Leacock also read from a Football Federation release which he said was signed by Trevor Huggins, 2nd Vice-President and Clyde Robinson, 3rd Vice-President. He quoted the press release as saying, “the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation has in its possession, Tommy Hilfiger jerseys – red, white and grey. The executive members including the president have been authorised to sell, distribute or donate these t-shirts to the public and any sporting organization. The executive has no problem with any of its members’ conduct.”

Up to press time, Searchlight had not received the press release.