Police receive complaint over premier’s stipend comment

Police have said they are reviewing a complaint lodged this afternoon (Thursday) against Premier Alden McLaughlin following his comments at a recent Progressives meeting.

The complaint comes a day after a social media post on Wednesday had claimed a formal complaint was filed at the Elections Office against McLaughlin for alleged vote-buying when he promised to increase the current tourism stipend if re-elected.

However, RCIPS Chief Inspector Patrick Beersingh, who heads the special team charged with investigating election offences, said on Thursday morning that no such complaint had been filed.

But in a statement later in the day, Beersingh confirmed that an individual had subsequently contacted the police about the premier’s comments.

“At 12 midday today [Thursday] a report was received at the George Town Police Station expressing concerns about public statements made by the Honourable Premier at an event on Tuesday, 23rd March 2021. This matter is being reviewed by the RCIPS,” Beersingh said.

In his earlier comments, Beersingh noted that if a complaint was ever made to the RCIPS, police “would not disclose the complainant or the source of such a complaint, but would fully investigate the matter according to law”.

Beersingh also warned against making false or frivolous claims.

“People should refrain from speculating or repeating unsubstantiated reports relating to candidates without first knowing the facts, or confirming with the Elections Office or the RCIPS,” Beersingh said.

Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell also issued a word of caution as he addressed election offences in a recent interview.

Meanwhile, in a message, McLaughlin told the Compass he had not seen this “level of desperation and hysteria among some of those opposed to the government… in all my years in politics”.

He said, “They realise they are losing and seemingly will stop at nothing in their efforts to malign the reputation and character of Alliance candidates.”

The closer the country gets to Election Day “the more outrageous their scandalous allegations become”, he added.

The Red Bay incumbent said that legal steps had already been taken in relation to the claims.

“Do not be surprised if some of them find themselves on the receiving end of defamation suits following the elections. A letter before action from attorneys acting for an Alliance candidate has already been delivered to one of them on account of his slanderous allegations,” McLaughlin said.

Billboard defacement being probed

Beersingh also confirmed that five complaints or reports relating to election matters have been made to the RCIPS.

Those reports, he said, involved “damage to property, misuse of ICT and creating and uttering a false document”.

All of these matters are being fully investigated according to the requirements of the law, he said.

”If there is enough evidence for a file to be submitted to the (Director of Public Prosecutions), that will be done. So far, we have not submitted any files to the (Office of the) DPP for ruling in relation to any of the election related matters under investigation,” Beersingh said.

Just this week, the billboards of two Progressive-alliance candidates were defaced.

After a billboard for the Progressives’ George Town Central candidate Frank Cornwall was soiled with rotted fruit, his opponent and incumbent MP Kenneth Bryan personally cleaned it.

A billboard for incumbent Newlands MP Alva Suckoo was also damaged.

Earlier this month, a billboard belonging to George Town West candidate Kenrick Webster was defaced.

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