[www.inewsguyana.com] – In his first public statement since the release of a recorded telephone conversation between himself and a senior journalist of the Kaieteur News, Attorney General, Anil Nandlall says the situation is one which caused himself and family “great embarrassment, personal distress and tremendous pain.”
He said he is “truly sorry” that his political colleagues and the general public had to endure “this highly regrettably ordeal.”
The profanity laced recording went viral a week ago, after it was released by Publisher of the Kaieteur News, Glenn Lall, who has since made a police report, alleging that Nandlall threatened violence to him and his staff.
However, Nandlall in his statement noted that he is not aware of any planned violence or extra-judicial sanction against any individual journalist or any newspaper.
He deemed the release of the recorded conversation as a “betrayal” as he pointed out that it was a private conversation he had with someone he has known for a very long time.
He said the conversation with Leonard Gildarie took place in the context of mutual trust, confidence, informality and was a friendly banter.
Prior to the release of his statement today, Nandlall addressed the professional staff of the Advice, Litigation and Drafting Departments and Members of the Senior Management of the Ministry of Legal Affairs.
See below his statement in its entirety:
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.