Never has a sexual harassment allegation against a prominent person in the society, especially a former Government Minister made headlines in all three daily newspapers for more than a week.
The media took up the bacchanal like what soca star Mr. Killa suggested take up something and “Run with It” and they are really running with the story every day.
The issue surrounds former Sports Minister Darryl Smith’s sexual harassment allegation which was made against him by his personal secretary Carrie-Ann Moreau.
Smith was later fired by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley after he received information about the dismissal of Moreau. She had sued the Sports Ministry alleging wrongful dismissal over allegations of sexual harassment which was the cause of the unlawful dismissal.
After Smith’s firing Dr. Rowley appointed a Committee of three women chaired by former Permanent Secretary and Human Resource expert Jacqueline Wilson, Folade Mutota, Director of the Women’s Institute for Alternative Development and Attorney at Law Elaine Greene.
They were asked to probe the circumstances surrounding the allegations of sexual harassment against Smith leading to the dismissal of Moreau, the non-disclosure agreement and the $150,000 settlement and to make findings and recommendations.
But there are now several questions that have to be answered with regard to the Committee’s investigation and subsequent report. Did the Committee deliberately leave loopholes in their report so as to protect Smith?
The Committee is being accused of denying Smith natural justice by not putting the allegation to him.
The Committee had the service of highly respected and knowledgeable Attorney Greene and who reportedly has 26 years legal experience. She has worked in the Chambers of the late Karl Hudson-Phillips for decades. She should have advised her colleagues that natural justice requires that Smith be given an opportunity to respond to the allegations.
Smith’s attorney Annabelle Sooklal after receiving the report found that the Committee “unintentionally” breached the rule of natural justice and she then sought advice from a Senior Attorney.
She went further to accuse Dr Rowley of giving the media misleading information and trying to diminish Smith’s claim of a breach of natural justice. Was it intentional?
In a letter to AG Faris-al-Rawi, Sooklal deemed the report to be fatally flawed and is demanding the Government destroy all copies of the report. Was the Government trying to cover-up the sexual misconduct by Smith?
Smith’s sexual harassment allegation has been the talk around the town and especially with the Man-in-the-Street.
The rum posse of Ramsingh, Balkie, Dougla, and Rasta met last week-end at their usual liming spot at Corky’s bar to have a few drinks and they were talking about the issues in the country.
Ramsingh: “Barman, come run some drinks. Now is d Christmas season and d rum start to flow. Is rum and more rum for dis festive season. Tell d boss he have to bring ah parang band to entertain d customers”.
Barman: “It still early as d Christmas season eh start as yet so it still have time. Next month we go have ah parang side on Friday and Saturday evenings. Ah see d PNM and d UNC start dey campaign for d local government election next month. D UNC had ah motorcade in Grande and ah see d PNM had dey convention in d Savannah.”
Balkie: “Local election doh interest meh, nah, because ah doh see meh councillor. D last time ah see him was when he pass d last time it had local government election. D roads by meh so bad dat ah cyar see meh councillor to make ah complain to get it patch up.”
Dougla: “People should not go out and vote as ah form of protest over dem bad roads all over d country. Ah tired spending money on shocks, front ends and alignment for meh car. It look like d government eh have money to patch or even pave dem roads whey have large potholes in d middle and side. Dem drivers have to swerve to get away from dem potholes.”
Ramsingh: “By the way, Barman, yuh eh see how Rowley and Faris trying to protect d Smith fella who his personal secretary say he was sexually harassing her. Ah want to know what he did to make she believe that it was sexual harassment. D government should make d report public, so people could know if d owman was making fuss over Smith talking bout how she looking sexy and have ah nice bumsee.”
Dougla: “Allyuh eh realize dat Rowley like to protect he own in d PNM. So why he had to appoint three owman to carry out the investigation. Why was ah man left out d Committee? Why d owman did not make a police report? It look like she wanted money to stay quiet because she agree to sign ah non-disclosure agreement. Smith muzzle she so she cyar talk about d allegation.”
Rasta: “Ah see d AG say say how d report is useless because it is flawed and Smith was not given ah chance to be heard. If d police is investigating ah rape case and dey hold ah suspect ent dey have to ask him questions but he eh bound to answer and could remain silent but at least d suspect was interviewed.”
Ramsingh: “Ah doh know what all d fuss is about Smith sexual harassment allegation, it have dat in d workplace. Yuh know how much boss does tell dey secretary or workers how dey sexy and he does even ask dem for ah date and take dem for lunch. Yuh know how much boss leave dey wife for dey secretary or ah worker. Yuh know if d owman had liked Smith yuh would ah never hear bout sexual harassment.”
Barman: “Ah hear how Smith was married and have two children. Ah feel if he would ah have ah chance if he was single. Some owman doh like married man with chirren.”
Until next week.