Embattled Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, who is at the centre of a major scandal involving death threats to Kaieteur News, has after more than one week, broken his silence following a damning recorded phone call released last week by this publication.
Among other things, in the conversation which went viral, the Government official spoke of gunmen attacking Kaieteur News. He also spoke of putting back monies he used from the nation’s coffers to pay for a medical procedure.
The recording is the subject of the police complaint made by Kaieteur News and has been heavily debated in the social networks and in the local and international media.
Below is the entire statement as issued by a public relations consultant on behalf of Nandlall.
Colleagues, I am speaking to you today against the backdrop of the recent exposure to the general public of selected
portions of a private conversation I had with someone I have known for a very long time and that took place in the context of mutual trust, confidence, informality and indeed, was a friendly banter.
Unfortunately, this conversation was recorded without my knowledge, manipulated, distorted and made public. As you are aware, I have filed legal proceedings. It is my hope that these proceedings will examine and determine the legality and authenticity of the recording as well as the liabilities, if any, which arise therefrom. Additionally, I have no doubt that the appropriate authorities would send the recording for proper forensic analysis.
Nevertheless, the publishing of this impugned recording was an unexpected betrayal. In the recording, you, and indeed the public, would have heard some most unfortunate remarks attributed to me. This entire episode has caused me and my family great embarrassment, personal distress and tremendous pain. I am truly sorry that you, my political colleagues, and the general public had to endure this highly regrettably ordeal.
In addition to the personal consequences for me and my family, this episode has also served as a distraction for our nation at a time when there are significant and substantial issues that require our collective focused attention.
Allow me, to address some of the issues raised by the deliberately engineered, manipulated and released portions of that private conversation.
Firstly, I share the views and principles of the Government of Guyana, of which I am a part, with respect to freedom of the press. As stated elsewhere recently, our government has from the inception “recognized, embraced, cherished and actively promoted press freedom in all its forms and facets. … we regard press freedom as a fundamental freedom and right which is enshrined in the Constitution of Guyana. We view freedom of the press as the cornerstone of our democracy.”
It is also my firm belief that while the State has the sacred responsibility for creating and nurturing an enabling environment for a Free Press, the Free Press has an equally sacred responsibility to the highest ethical standards as they operate in that free environment. The Guyanese public and I are equally victims of an unethical journalist and an unprincipled newspaper operating in a free environment.
Secondly, I wish to state clearly and unequivocally, that I am unaware of any planned violence or extra-judicial sanction against any individual journalist or any newspaper. Indeed, in my own case I have filed legal proceedings and have every confidence in our judicial system to conduct a fair and open hearing and to deliver justice at the end. Our government does not condone or promote violence in any form or at any level. As you all here in these chambers know, we have worked tirelessly to give leadership and guidance to the development of legislation that tackle violence in all forms and at every level including the protection of women and children from domestic violence.
This takes me to the third issue – that of women. This aspect of the impugned recording has perhaps caused me the greatest personal distress. I have been judged harshly by both the general public and by women’s groups and activists. However, neither of these judgments has been as harsh as the judgments I have received from the women in my life, most notably my wife and my mother. I wish to assure all women in Guyana of my highest respect and to promise that I will continue to struggle for their rights and respect wherever there remain gaps in the treatment of women in our society.
Colleagues, the final issue I wish to clarify relates to a financial transaction to which reference was made in the impugned recording. This has been unfortunately interpreted to implicate me in some form of financial impropriety. I wish to set the record straight on that issue. The reference relates to the reimbursement I received for monies I expended on medical treatment. This reimbursement, was approved by Cabinet in a written Cabinet decision dated 20 June 2013. This is, and historically has been, an entitlement of every member of Cabinet long before my appointment.
In closing, I wish to take this opportunity to thank each of you here in these chambers for your continued tireless work in support of Guyana’s development. Our recent accomplishment of securing time for Guyana to meet its obligations under the CFATF and FATF is very significant and noteworthy, but I will address that at another time.
I wish to also thank you for your support to me personally. I am proud to be leading these chambers and this team of professionals at this unique time in our history, but nothing that I have achieved would have been possible without your efforts and I am indeed personally indebted to you.
AG’s statement rife with dishonesty
The conversation between the Attorney General Anil Nandlall and Kaieteur News senior reporter Leonard Gildarie, was indeed with someone whom he said was a colleague. But to say that selected portions of the conversation were released is to accuse Kaieteur News and the person with whom he had the conversation of dishonesty.
The recording and the transcript spoke for themselves. Further, Kaieteur News is prepared to submit the recording for authentication to any international organization the Attorney General chooses.
The recording of the conversation was a decision by the reporter for whatever reason he chooses. Any manipulation was in the mind of the Attorney General. He heard the recording, he knew precisely what he said, how he said it, and when he said it. He knew that there was no manipulation or distortion. He also knew why he was saying what he said.
To tell the public that Kaieteur News did something unprofessional is to blatantly lie. And he knows that the authorities would not send the recording for a forensic audit. If they are to send any recording it must be the original and not one that could have been tampered with by the same authorities.
The public did hear what the Attorney General said, because he knew that he said it; he knew that there was no distortion. The remarks were not only attributed to the Attorney General, they were his words and he does not deny them.
If indeed he did share the views about freedom of the press, he would also share the view that as a public figure his comments were of interest to the public. He should also tell the public about the number of lawsuits he has filed to silence the very media he says should be free.
In 2006 he wrote a letter on this very issue when the government released a recording of a conversation between the then Police Commissioner Winston Felix and attorney at law Basil Williams; he quoted the British law to support the right to release what was also a private conversation. What makes his conversation any different?
“The Guyanese public and I are equally victims of an unethical journalist and an unprincipled newspaper operating in a free environment,” says Nandlall.
The public must ask “What is unethical about recording the chief lawmaker and protector of the laws and the citizens of the country making a threat to the lives of the staff of Kaieteur News?”
The people are to be shot soon, according to the Attorney General.
It is illegal, immoral and unethical for him to be in possession of such information and not inform the authorities. He does inform his friend and encourages him to quit the office.
We await the outcome of his legal proceedings, copies of which are still to be served on Kaieteur News. Truth is the greatest defence and this will torpedo any effort Nandlall makes to hide behind his legal action.
His comment about the female reporter is enough for him to resign. No woman should live with such a person who holds women in such low esteem and calls himself a man.
No woman can and should trust him to continue to struggle for their rights and expect him to represent them. He should not be allowed near any woman or girl child.
The Attorney General as a lawyer knows that to misappropriate funds and to repay does not negate punishment. Many who have stolen and have made restitution are in jail.
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