Thorough probe needed into alleged assault of Opposition Member – PM

L-R: Kwame McCoy and Tabitha Sarabo-Halley
L-R: Kwame McCoy and Tabitha Sarabo-Halley

Prime Minister Mark Phillips has called for a thorough investigation into claims made by Opposition Member of Parliament Tabitha Sarabo-Halley that she was assaulted by Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister Kwame McCoy.

“We expect who’s conducting the investigation (to) be very objective. Utilise whatever camera footage is available to come to an objective conclusion. We have no reason to disbelieve Minister Kwame McCoy… We had a discussion with him and we have no reason to disbelieve him. As far as we’re concerned, he is sincere. However, this matter has to be investigated, and we have to get down to the truth,” PM Phillips has posited.

Prime Minister Mark Phillips

But Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon, who said the police is currently investigating, says there might be no evidence of the altercation in the security footage. He said investigators will have to rely on eyewitnesses.

“Unfortunately, what that video footage showed was that there are some areas of the National Assembly that are not covered by the cameras… The video footage offers you evidence of what may have happened before and after,” Harmon noted during a virtual press conference.

Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon

However, when pressed on who the eyewitnesses are – whether they were Coalition members or Parliament staff – Harmon refused to say.

Moreover, after he confirmed that MP Sarabo-Halley sought medical attention, the Opposition Leader further declined to share what that medical stated.

Meanwhile, he contended that the party would make a determination after the probe wraps up, most likely today, on whether it would continue to participate in the ongoing Consideration of the 2021 Budget Estimates.
According to the Opposition Leader, an apology would not be “sufficient”.

McCoy has since denied all claims that he assaulted Sarabo-Halley.

“At no time did I touch Ms. Halley with my phone or any part of my body. At the time in question, outside the Parliament Chamber, I had just completed a verbal exchange with Mr Keith Lowenfield, who attended the Committee of Supply. After Mr Lowenfield’s departure, I began to speak with Minister Anand Persaud. I observed the presence of Ms. Halley, who was approximately four feet away from me. We exchanged words, but there was absolutely no physical contact whatsoever,” McCoy detailed in a statement on Wednesday night.

The Minister went on to say that the allegation is “totally false, malicious, and intended to cause me embarrassment and public ridicule. I am seeking the advice of my attorneys-at-law on the way forward. I urge the Guyana Police Force to fully investigate this matter and institute the necessary charges against Ms. Halley, and I am prepared to prosecute any charges vigorously.”