by Linda Straker
- “No physical altercation” between journalist and Junior Minister for Information
- Government investigations state what was circulated in social media was not predicated on an actual occurrence
Simon Stiell, Minister for Information, has disclosed that an investigation conducted by government has deduced that there was no physical altercation between a journalist and the junior minister for information immediately after last week Tuesday’s post-cabinet briefing.
“In relation to the matter reported about the Minister of State with responsibility for Information – we are satisfied through our investigations, including talking to reporters – that there was absolutely no physical altercation,” said a statement issued by Stiell. “What has been reported on social media has grossly misrepresented the truth and has unfortunately led to comments and concerns by members of civil society, purported to be based on fact, when this is not the case.”
Last week Tuesday, Calistra Farrier, a freelance journalist, reported via her Facebook page that Senator Winston Garraway, the Minister responsible for Information had not only assaulted her but deprived her of having an interview with Minister Clarice Modeste-Curwen by instructing Modeste not to answer the question asked.
In her Facebook post, she wrote, “Dr Clarice Modeste-Curwen was in the process of responding to a question from me when she was interrupted and instructed not to answer. She appeared taken aback by the instruction and inquired as to whether the individual was sure he did not wish her to give a response, also giving assurances that she was prepared and capable of responding.”
“The question pertained to a chopping incident in her parliamentary district of St Mark, and I was seeking an answer from her as the member of parliament for the area, her primary function to the people. Dr Modeste-Curwen continued to delay her exit from the room, appearing to want to offer a comment on this very serious incident in her constituency. She was ushered out the door, and the doorway was blocked to prevent my exit. I was pushed and fell to the floor. While on the floor I was subjected to deranged uttering about devils,” Farrier outlined.
Since the incident, police have confirmed that a report was filed by Farrier and investigations are continuing into the matter. However, many have taken to social media expressing disgust and condemning the accused as a batterer, while some have described the instructions to Minister Modeste-Curwen as a violation of press freedom.
The statement which was issued from the Government Information Service (GIS) email 8 days after the incident said that government accepts responsibility for not adding clarity to this matter up until now, because “our investigations revealed that what was stated in social media was not predicated on an actual occurrence.”
“There is no doubt that there was a disagreement about perceived style and approach in the overall context of the situation at the time, but the investigation was clear that there was no altercation.” The statement which said the senior minister, from whom a response was being sought, proposed to accommodate the question in spite of the ongoing disagreement between the reporter and the junior minister.
“It is our hope that this further elucidates our position on media engagement. Government as a whole, reaffirms its commitment to open and constant engagement with the media, and by extension, the general public,” the statement concluded.