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January 24, 2014
DeFreitas apologizes to PM for NICE Radio broadcasting

Douglas DeFreitas, Manager of Nice Radio, has apologized to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves for broadcasting on his radio station, a news story which he said has no basis in truth.{{more}}

In a letter to the Prime Minister dated January 21, 2014, DeFreitas said the story was broadcast twice last Friday, as part of the radio station’s 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. newscasts, by two of his employees.

“… Laverne Phillips and Deion Allen out of ignorance inadvertently broadcasted (sic) news originated (sic) from Barbados Free Press,” De Freitas said.

“This information has no basis of (sic) truth. I have spoken to both broad castors (sic) and they have asked to convey that they are truly sorry for their grave error,” the letter said.

De Freitas said in his letter, that he apologised to the Prime Minister by telephone on January 20, and also offered the apology on his radio station and in the newspapers of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The article, which appeared on the Barbados Free Press blog, accused Prime Minister Gonsalves of a conflict of interest, alleging that he owned two aircraft which he leased to LIAT “The conflict of interest arises because SVG is one of the major shareholders in LIAT.

Government funds are involved and Prime Minister Gonsalves is heavily involved in decision making about the airline,” the blog said.

Gonsalves is the Chairman of the LIAT shareholders.

LIAT, in a statement issued Tuesday, said “LIAT has no Aircraft Leases with Prime Minister Gonsalves or any shareholder of the company and categorically denies the suggestion that the Prime Minister has anything to do with the leasing of aircraft to LIAT.”

Acting CEO of LIAT Julie Reifer-Jones commented that: “These statements are reckless and mischievous. Such reports negatively impact the travelling public, our Caribbean community constituents, and the staff of our airline. LIAT distances itself from these unverified reports and remains committed to channeling our energies into our modernization programme and to putting LIAT on a profitable footing.”

Gonsalves, meanwhile, during the wrap up of the budget debate on Tuesday, read the letter of apology from De Freitas.

He said there exists a climate where things are just made up about him, and no consideration is given to the pain and humiliation done to his character.

The Prime Minister said former Chief Minister Ebenezer Joshua used to say that if one drives a 20 penny nail in a piece of wood and then takes it out, the nail comes out, but the hole remains.

“… So they drove a 20 penny nail in my character, they took out the nail with the apology, but the hole remains,” Gonsalves said.

He said because DeFreitas’ apology had been made promptly, he is willing to forgive, but because persons sought to defame him, taking him away from his recovery work, trying to get him to lose his focus, consideration should be made to making donations to the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

“When you drive a 20 penny nail in circumstances like those current, they should really give consideration to … helping to fill up the 20 penny hole by giving $5000 to the Red Cross and $5000 to the Salvation Army. They should consider doing this. I am not asking them for it. Let them consider doing this.”