Speaker says will be guided by police report on assault allegations against MP

Speaker Manzoor Nadir
Speaker Manzoor Nadir

Investigators probing the assault allegation made against Minister Kwame McCoy by APNU/AFC Member of Parliament (MP) Tabitha Sarabo-Halley have found that there is no evidence of a physical assault.

In its report to the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Police said “…there is evidence to indicate that the parties indeed had an exchange of words, but there is nothing to suggest that any [physical] assault took place.”

The Police handed over the report to House Speaker Manzoor Nadir last week. When contacted on Tuesday, Nadir said he will no longer be dealing with the issue and will be relying on the Police’s final report on the incident.

“…I have to be guided by the Police report which says ‘There was nothing to suggest that any assault took place’. As such, I would not be able to deal any further with this issue,” the Speaker indicated to this publication.

L-R: Kwame McCoy and Tabitha Sarabo-Halley

Earlier this month during the Consideration of the 2021 Budget Estimates, MP Sarabo-Halley alleged that Government MP Kwame McCoy physically assaulted her on the corridors of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), where Parliament sittings are being held due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the Public Affairs Minister has vehemently denied the allegation.

Nevertheless, the Police were called in to probe the incident and had taken statements from several persons as well as reviewed CCTV footage from the Conference Centre. But the footage only captured the before and after of the confrontation between the two MPs and showed nothing of the alleged assault.

In fact, the Police report further states that “The evidence of the CCTV would have been vital in this investigation. However, there was none located in the area where the alleged incident occurred.”

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Chamber had previously advised the Police that the Speaker should use the Standing Orders of Parliament to address the assault complaint since the incident occurred in the precinct of the National Assembly.

However, Nadir pointed out that the Standing Orders only deal with the misconduct of members. He further explained that “Parliament does not have an investigative arm”, hence his decision to be guided by the Police report.

According to the House Speaker, he will be informing the National Assembly of his decision at the next session.