ROSEAU – Speaker of the house, Alix Boyd-Knights, is strongly denying that a journalist was kicked out of the House of Assembly on her instructions.
Addressing the house on Tuesday, she described the matter as a total lie and misrepresentation of what actually occurred.
“Nobody put him out, that is a total lie and a misrepresentation of what happened,” she stated.
Editor of the Sun Newspaper, Charles James, is saying that he was unceremoniously excluded “from observing, reporting and photographing the proceedings of the Opening of Parliament on July 23rd, 2014.”
In a letter to the clerk of the house, James said as main photographer of the newspaper he was taking photos of president Charles Savarin as he addressed parliament for the first time. He was then told by a police officer, Inspector Ulando Cuffy, that he was not allowed to do so and he inquired who told to give such instructions.
“I packed my equipment and sat near a cameraman of the Government Information Service who was video-recording the proceedings of Parliament for broadcast,” James wrote. “I then saw Mr Cuffy talking to the Honourable Speaker of the House of Assembly, Alix Boyd-Knights. Shortly afterwards, Mr Cuffy came to me and told me I had to leave the chair on which I was seated. I asked whether I could leave via a door a few feet away from where I was sitting. He responded by ordering me to walk through the gallery in full view of all the attendees of the meeting of Parliament.”
James said he has been taking photos of the opening of parliament for two decades and is not aware that taking photos or reporting “has been restricted to certain government affiliated media houses.”
He further stated that a letter inviting the Sun to parliament clearly stated that arrangements were being made to accommodate a reporter and a dress code was pointed out which “also applies to camera crew.”
“I can also assure you that my conduct was not in any manner disorderly or disruptive to the proceedings,” he wrote to the clerk.
But Boyd-Knights said there are certain rules which must be followed when it comes to house proceedings.
“People cannot just do what they want,” she stated. “There are rules and all of us must obey the rules.”
She read from Standing Order 83 saying, “the speaker may grant a general permission to the representative of any journal to attend the seating of the house under such rules as he, meaning he the speaker not the reporter of course, may from time to time for the purpose. If such rules are contravened, such permission may be revoked.”
“And we had that revocation before,” she stated. “If I am not mistaken, it is still in operation in that particular case.”
The speaker said James committed a number of errors including entering the house through the wrong door while carrying bags and sitting in the cameraman’s chair.
“Why did he pass through that door and who gave him permission to do so?” she asked. “Did he pass that ways because he wanted to enter the chamber with his bags knowing full well that bags would have been excluded from him …”
She continued, “Why does he thinks he has to sit in the chair of the cameraman when in fact he was told in his letter that he would be given sitting …. the letter specifically said a reporter, why did he think that he could just transform that reporter word into cameraman and appear here with his bag of camera tricks?”
She said some people would say James, in essence, sneaked into parliament. “Because he didn’t come through where he was not supposed to come and that is wrong,” she noted.
Boyd-Knights stated that James left the house and then told the world “that the speaker put him out.”
“Now for the life of me, I cannot understand, you never had a conversation with the speaker, it was done through an intermediary and therefore before you opt and ran you would have clarified things with the speaker …. most genuine people would do this but he opted to take the measure,” she stated.
She also pointed out the James has been in the house on many occasions and he is aware of the rules better than most.