PM Gonsalves, reporter Kenton Chance clash in heated discussion
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January 19, 2018
PM Gonsalves, reporter Kenton Chance clash in heated discussion

The Prime Minister thinks that when journalist Kenton Chance writes about him or the Government, sometimes, something is wrong in his head.

Dr Ralph Gonsalves expressed this view on Monday at a press conference at Cabinet Room, during which an exchange between him and Chance got heated, after the Prime Minister suggested that Chance could have placed some context in his reporting on the court appearance of 22-year-old fashion model Yugge Farrell, who was recently remanded for psychiatric observation.

Gonsalves said Chance failed to add to his article that in the past, Farrell had been sent for psychiatric evaluation. But Chance, in his response, denied knowing that this was the case, although last week, on a live radio call in programme, he said he was aware of Farrell and some issues she had been having last year.

“What is the basis on which a reporter goes to court; there is a presentation of facts and I go and dig…?” Chance asked the Prime Minister.

Gonsalves responded by telling Chance that when it is appropriate, he puts context in his writings.

“… You are excellent at providing context, because when my mother (Theresa Francis) died, the context for your report on my mother’s death was that she, who has Alzheimer’s, don’t know anything about my two brothers who are signatory to the account, you went and said that this woman who died, had this million dollars in her account and money came out of it and people question it. What does that have to do with my mother’s death?” Gonsalves asked.

On the occasion of the death of Theresa Francis in July 2017, Chance had reported that in February 2013, Francis was the subject of some public debate after it was revealed that two of her sons had withdrawn EC$1 million from her account at the St Vincent Building and Loan Association on October 1, 2012, while the building society was under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance, which Gonsalves heads.

Gonsalves said then that he was not involved in managing the account held by his elderly mother, and said that his brothers had removed the money without informing or consulting him.

“When you want to beat me and my family in relation to context, you do it

because any elementary journalist 101 would say for you to beat a dead woman with a report like that would show that there is something really wrong in your head sometimes when you write about Ralph, the Government, and you are my friend, and you should cleanse yourself of it. When my mother is dead you will rehash a context. When it suits any agenda, he would put context.”

Chance, seemingly aggravated at the comment, responded by stating that he does not think the death of Gonsalves’s mother in and of itself is news.

“…Other people might see it as a news story, but I don’t think your family is news to the extent that they are not involved in something that is not of public interest,” stated Chance.

He said that as a lawyer, Gonsalves would see things differently than he would as a journalist and while he appreciates the lessons he gets, he will continue to do his job as he was trained to do, despite the “tongue beating” from persons.

In relation to the Yugge Farrell matter, Chance said that nothing was mentioned in court about a “blackmail letter” and despite the accusations of inaccurate reporting, nobody has shown where his report was inaccurate.

“I have no information on Yugge Farrell,” said Chance, who added that in his opinion, the Government blundered the issue after emails began making the rounds accusing the Prime Minister’s son Camillo, who is also the Minister of Finance, of infidelity.

Chance said that the Prime Minister rightfully told Camillo not to speak on the matter, but Storm Gonsalves, Camillo’s younger brother made a mistake when he called into Hot 97.1 FM’s morning programme and made certain statements.

“He gave the story legs,” Chance said of Storm’s comments.

Gonsalves, in responding, told Chance that what gave the story legs was his “inadequate reporting” and the added hysteria of persons debating the issue.

The Prime Minister said that Storm is not a member of the Government and when he heard somebody “unfairly traducing his brother,” he felt obligated to defend Camillo.

Earlier in Monday’s press conference, Chance and Gonsalves had also knocked heads over a comment made on radio by Unity Labour Party (ULP) activist Frank DaSilva, in which DaSilva said that Chance was angry with the Government because he did not receive a grant he had applied for, several months ago.