Tue | Jul 7, 2020

‘I am relieved Reid’s not at the ministry’, says Espeut

Published:Thursday | October 10, 2019 | 12:22 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

The Reverend Peter Espeut has labelled as “unfortunate” the arrest and charge of former education minister Ruel Reid over allegations of fraud and impropriety within the Ministry of Education and some of its agencies, including the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) .

Espeut, a school board chairman, said, however, that Reid’s removal from political office earlier this year left him, and others connected to high schools run by the church, happy.

“I regret what has happened to him, but I also regret some of the things he said while he was minister, and I am happy he is no longer there, though I am not delighted with the possibility of criminal charges against him,” noted Espeut before it was confirmed yesterday afternoon that Reid had been charged.

Reid, himself a lay preacher, was arrested yesterday morning along with his wife Sharen and daughter Sharelle at their St Andrew home.

Under-fire CMU president Fritz Pinnock was arrested at his Hellshire, St Catherine, home while a fifth person, councillor for the Brown’s Town division Kim Brown Lawrence was also detained by the investigators.

Espeut said his disappointment was more in line with how Reid operated while he was at the education ministry.

Reid was fired by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in March as allegations of fraud and misuse of public funds swirled around him.

“My disappointment with Reid is on more than one level. As a person who has spoken on behalf of church schools, I have been disappointed in how Mr Reid, as the minister of education, treated these schools by accusing them of extortion.

“It seemed to me then that as minister, he was seeking a coup to take over the church schools and turn them into government-run institutions. So, yes, we had differences with that,” Espeut said.

He said Reid was unwilling to cut the church slack on the issue and that the disappointment he now feels is two-fold.

“So yes, I was disappointed when he was the minister of education, and now that he has fallen, in one sense I am relieved because it takes some of the stress off the church schools, but one never rejoices when one has found themselves accused of a crime,” added Espeut.