No proof of wrongdoing by Cummings

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Dr Keith Rowley –

THE Prime Minister said there was no proof to support opposition allegations against Minister of Youth Development and National Service Foster Cummings, addressing Thursday’s post-Cabinet briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s. At a recent UNC meeting, opposition Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial alleged that a 2019 Special Branch report contained allegations against Cummings, but he has since denied any wrongdoing. While Dr Rowley said he was not making a defence for Cummings, he said, as Prime Minister, he must first ascertain the “quality’ of the information in the report.

Rowley said Special Branch was part of the police service.

“If there is something for the police to act on, I’d expect the police would act. He said special-branch reports were graded and “should be taken with some condiments or some salt.”

He said the report was an initial alert, classed as intelligence but, by itself, had no weight in a court of law.

Having said this was the first time a special-branch report was used on a political platform, Rowley said all past prime ministers had seen fit to deal with special-branch reports in a particular way, except for now.

Rowley said, if he were to take action, the Opposition would accuse him of interfering in police work, even as a prime minister has no role in telling the police what to do.

He said the Opposition should know the Interception of Communications Act made a distinction between mere information/intelligence and evidence. Rowley accused the Opposition of mischief-making, even while saying each of his Cabinet ministers must stand on their own integrity as he was not defending anyone against whom allegations were made.

“I have seen nothing to confirm what the UNC has been waving on that platform.”

Rowley said when Cummings had been a senator he had been free to look for work. He said Cummings had bought properties which people had put onto the market.

The PM said Cummings has denied other allegations, which were now in police hands. “If the police can’t confirm, what am I supposed to act on?”

Rowley said he could publicly present special-branch reports on opposition members in a “he say, she say” scenario. He said many opposition MPs are now facing serious criminal investigations.

Rowley said the Opposition wanted the public to believe TT has a “callaloo of corruption,” with no difference between government and opposition MPs.

“I have no fear of that. If any member of my Government including myself has a problem with the law, the law will take its course.

“There is no prime minister in history that has ever been so forthcoming with the media as me.”

He urged the media not to be an opposition echo chamber.

Rowley said two opposition councillors were before the courts on bribery charges. He alleged that he could count on one hand the times Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar had taken questions from the media.

Rowley said, “I’m busy. I have work to do.

“I have a country to run. I don’t intend to spend a lot of time with them.”

On corruption, he said, “That’s not our record, that’s not our purpose, that’s not our station.”

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