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'Resignation calls were misguided'

Published:Friday | March 25, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

Prime Minister Bruce Golding yesterday characterised as "misguided" the deafening demands by Jamaicans and civic organisations for his resignation in May 2010.

Golding also described as "harassment" the conduct of the chargé d'affaires of the United States Embassy, Isiah Parnell, to Justice Minister and Attorney General Dorothy Lightbourne.

Golding's characterisations were made yesterday during the Manatt-Dudus commission of enquiry as he faced questions from K.D. Knight, the attorney representing the People's National Party.

The prime minister wrestled with Knight over whether Lightbourne had complained to him that she was experiencing a problem of receptivity (with US officials) between August 25 and late September 2009.

"The minister thought it was unusual for the chargé d'affaires of the US Embassy to be telephoning her (and not the minister of foreign affairs) and enquiring when she was going to proceed with extradition request.

"I interpret that kind of behaviour as harassment," declared Golding.

The prime minister was asked by Knight whether a significant number of persons believed that he had misled Jamaicans in relation to the involvement of the Jamaica Labour Party.

"They did so, misguidedly," he told the enquiry.

Could not quantify

Golding was then asked whether a significant number of organisations important to governance (such as the human-rights groups) felt his action had amounted to deception.

Golding responded: "They did so, misguidedly, including counsel (Knight) … . I am not in position to quantify."

Knight: "You have sworn to tell the truth, the full truth and nothing but the truth; the commissioners can expect that from you?"

Golding: "Yes."

Knight: "On 17th May 2010, you tendered an apology to the nation and the Parliament in relation to Dr Phillips about the engagement of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

Golding: "Not specifically, Dr Phillips."

Knight: "What areas did apology covered?"

Golding: "The party's engagement in this matter and party engagement of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips."

Asked whether he accepted the view that it would have been inappropriate for the JLP to engage Manatt, Golding asserted: "Yes, I find sympathy with that view."

However, Golding maintained that the Standing Orders of Parliament prevented him from divulging the JLP's involvement when former National Security Minister Dr Peter Phillips made his intervention in September 2009.

Asked whether it was his view that his failure to tell all in Parliament was a major factor in the attitude of the people, Golding reacted: "The attitude of some people."

Golding conceded that he would have no statutory authority to interfere with Justice Minister and Attorney General Dorothy Lightbourne.