July 26, 2013

President says he was unaware Bar Association issued statement

President of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Bar Association Dr Linton Lewis says he was unaware that the organization he heads, had issued a statement on the arrest of Vynnette Frederick.{{more}}

“They could have called me and told me that they were doing this draft, but they never called me,” Lewis told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday.

“They sent it to an email address that I never use, then after they had sent it to the press, they sent it to the correct email address.”

SEARCHLIGHT received the original Bar Association release at 3:51 pm on July 17. It was sent by Executive Committee Member Maia Eustace, who indicated she was sending it on behalf of Secretary Samantha Robertson.

Lewis said that after reading the email some time after eight on the night of July 17, he called Immediate Past President Kay Bacchus-Browne, then took to correcting “mistakes” in the draft, which had already been sent to the media.

Lewis said that he took out the word “unlawful” from the document, and replaced it with the phrase “it is a pity that she was arrested without an arrest warrant”.

He said he then sent the press release back to Bacchus-Browne.

“The amendments I made did not include ‘it is unlawful’… that is not to say it was not unlawful, but I thought it was not necessary to engage in that debate in the public, so I removed that, and I indicated that it is a pity that she was arrested without an arrest warrant.

“The problem is, you don’t become confrontational for no reason at all, whether it was unlawful will be determined in the court, Vynnette’s lawyers will deal with that, and I don’t think its necessary for us to get involved in that. And now certain people will join themselves and say they weren’t there.”

The word “unlawful” still made its way into the second version of the Bar Association Press Release, which was sent to SEARCHLIGHT from the Chambers of Kay Bacchus Browne at 11:06 am on Thursday July 18, and published in the July 19 Weekend edition.

Other changes that Lewis said he made to the original draft, include removing “permit” and replacing it with “denounce”, and taking out “ill” and replacing it with “still” in paragraph six.

The President of the Bar said he had given an interview on Frederick’s arrest to a reporter from the News newspaper on Wednesday, July 17, which was published in that newspaper on July 19. He noted that he never used the word “unlawful” in that interview.

Lewis told SEARCHLIGHT that in his view, it is unfair that there are talks that he issued a separate statement from the Bar, and is “backing away” from the published statement, and persons who are aware of the truth are not speaking on his behalf.

“In spite of all the attacks, I still held loyal to the Bar…. People are indicating that I have issued one statement and the Bar issued another, but my statement came to the press before I was aware that the Bar statement was sent to the press,” Lewis declared.

“It’s unfair… for me to be there defending [and] taking all the blows, even making all sorts of statements about changes in the Bar, and not one of them are coming forward and saying that what is being said is wrong, that I didn’t know about it before it went to the press, and that my amendments were not put.

“Nobody is coming forward to say that. Nobody is coming to say ‘listen Dr Lewis cannot be blamed,’ and I am there defending them all the time, and day after day, and not one of them is saying that it is not true, in my defence.”(JJ)