Official statement from: Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago
June 12th 2014
PM: No action against Minister Anil Roberts at this time
There has been a clamour in some quarters for me to have taken immediate action in relation to allegations made against Minister of Sport, Anil Roberts.
I have demonstrated in the past on many occasions that I do not hesitate to act in addressing any matter.
But I am also measured in the decision I arrive at through careful thought, always allowing deep process to take place.
I have the authority to make many decisions every hour as Prime Minister, but I do so always with consideration of what is right and fair, conscious always that with great authority, comes great responsibility.
I have allowed one of our Government’s coalition parties to address the matter involving Minister Roberts, who is a member of that party as is their right to so do.
I have also given regard to the need for the said Minister to be given an opportunity to compile a report and make a statement on all matters pertaining to allegations made against him.
Having allowed due process to take place, and in receipt of a full report from Minister Roberts, I am now in the best position to make public, my position regarding these allegations.
I am not judge or jury. I can only weigh the statements made by any member of my government against the evidence or lack thereof presented to me.
I hold fast and true to the inviolable principle of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
It is the basis upon which our judicial system is founded and it informs my own approach in arriving at any conclusion in matters of this kind.
Honourable Minister of Sport, Anil Roberts has penned a letter delivered by hand, dated June 10th 2014 and addressed to me as Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, a copy of which will be subsequently made public via distribution to all media.
In the letter, Minister Roberts categorically denies the use of illicit drugs. Minister Roberts’ letter attested his innocence, quote:
*“I confirm that I have not used any drugs inclusive of marijuana, during my tenure as Minister of your Government. It is with great sadness that I have watched a relentless media campaign designed to defame, hurt and disrespect not only me, but my wife, children and unborn child, as well as my constituents, my government and you, my beloved Prime Minister.”*
Regarding the video, Minister Roberts refutes the notion that it represents any evidence of misconduct or criminal activity or that any verification of such can be made. Minster Roberts goes on to affirm the following:
*“The production of the video is an extreme form of mischief which places one in an unenviable place to ‘defend’ oneself by making statements and pronouncements that in turn will be used in tandem with the video of dubious origin and delayed production to condemn the speaker.”*
As regards the allegations of the Lifesport programme, Minister Roberts describes the reports as “*unsubstantiated*” and submits that he respectfully awaits the outcome of the investigation.
Minister Robert’ statement concludes as follows:
*“Honourable Prime Minister, as your Minister of Sport, as your member of Parliament for D’Abadie/O’Meara, your supporter and patriot who has served my beloved country as a former national swimmer, a former national footballer and a national Olympic medal-winning coach, I assure you that I have never taken, used or experimented with illicit or illegal drugs nor have I ever been involved in any form or fashion with prostitutes as has been implied by Dr. Keith Rowley. I certainly have not treated lightly with the trust and confidence in which you have reposed in me and I remain at your service.”*
After considering the strong denials made by the Honourable Minister, and having regard to the fact that there exists no evidence to corroborate any of the allegations made against Minister Roberts, I find that there is no matter arising which requires my consideration at this time.
The investigation initiated by the Honourable Minister of Finance, Larry Howai on the allegations within the Lifesport programme will continue aggressively until a determination is made. I wish to take the opportunity to re-affirm my position with regard to the responsibility which must be shouldered by every member of my Government or indeed by anyone who holds a position in public office that integrity and humility must be the hallmarks of your work and character at all times.
I thank you all.
UPDATED: June 14, 2014
The Office of the Prime Minister has released the letter dated June 10, 2014 (pdf), which was sent to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC, by Minister of Sport Anil Roberts.
June 10th, 2014
The Honourable Kamla Persad Bissessar S.C
Prime Minister Of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago,
PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL
Dear Honourable Prime Minister,
Re: Request for clarification on what is being called as a viral video that has grabbed the attention of the media over the last fortnight
Let me state at the onset that, I Anil O.E. Roberts have never indulged, partaken or used any illegal drugs in my entire life nor have I ever indulged, solicited, requested, engaged or employed any form of prostitution. Further, I have no recollection of the events portrayed in the video.
I confirm that I have not used any drugs inclusive of marijuana during my tenure as a Minister of your Government. It is with great sadness that I have watched a relentless media campaign designed to deframe, hurt and disrespect not only me but my wife, children and unborn child, as well as my constituents, my government and you my beloved Prime Minster.
Since this “news item” was first broadcast on the station of our detractors, and may I remind you that accusations and innuendo about a video resembling what we now witness were thrown at me by none other than Dr. Keith Rowley, Senator Faris Al-Rawi and Fitzgerald Hinds among others as well as the PNM’s preferred newspaper the TnT Mirror over a year and a half ago.
There has been no legitimate allegation being made or to be made by any official agency and no investigation launched against me. To this point not one allegation of misconduct, criminal activity or activity warranting further investigation has been made. I have been instructed by my attorneys to remain absolutely silent on the matter. From what I have seen in the video, I am unable to determine when it was, where it was, and what substance is alleged to have been held by me. Indeed, there is no material visible. In much the same way, I have been advised by my attorneys that there is no way in which any of the material displayed on the video may be verified. The production of this video is an extreme form of mischief which places one in an unenviable place to ‘defend’ oneself by making statements and pronouncements that in turn will be used in tandem with the video of dubious origin and delayed production to condemn the speaker.
I was informed through the media of a decision made by the Congress of the People purporting to suspend me. I attach my letter of inquiry, which to date remains unanswered. I note in the Trinidad Express reported comments of the Chairman of the party admitting that the Constitution of the Party contains no power to suspend me, and there is a nebulous reference to a code of ethics.
I also note that the production of the video, was in tandem with a sledgehammer of misinformation attacking the Lifesport programme. This programme remains a most innovative reformation programme that signals hope to the much maligned and at risk youth. I attach a statement of the Director of the programme which rubbishes all of the reports. I respectfully also await the outcome of the investigation.