Fri | May 25, 2018

Melodrama at the ministry - Police called in as junior minister and communications officer clash over secret recordings

Published:Sunday | November 25, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer

Police and attorneys have been called in to handle raging hostilities between a junior minister and a communications officer that could grind a critical sector to a halt.

Charges and countercharges between the two have led to what could be a melodramatic case of cybercrime.

The Organised Crime Investigation Division (OCID) has been forced into action after discussions with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The communications officer (a former journalist), who was employed in his current post by the previous administration, has been accused of secretly recording conversations with the junior minister and handing the tapes over to his opposition counterpart.

According to reliable Sunday Gleaner sources, the rift between the two started weeks ago after the junior minister denied something that the communications officer claimed he had said.

This resulted in the two men accusing each other of being a liar.

"As a result, the communication officer decided that he could no longer trust the junior minister and without informing him started recording conversations that involved only the two of them on a cellular phone provided by the ministry," said the source.

During one recent meeting, the junior minister realised that the conversation was being recorded.

Cellphones seized

"The junior minister became enraged and seized the ministry-assigned cellphone as well as the communication officer's personal phone," said the source.

"The junior minister claimed that the phones were handed over to OCID for investigation, but when the phones were eventually returned to the communications officer he found that his voice messages, videos, and photographs had been deleted," added the source.

Among the data removed from the phone were six photographs, a video and eight voice messages.

The communications officer was also told that he was being investigated by OCID in connection with a "case of defamation and sabotage" and that he could be fired from the ministry.

Upset by the turn of events, the communications officer engaged the service of attorney-at-law Patrick Bailey, who told The Sunday Gleaner that the police claim they acted based on the advice of the Office of the DPP.

Bailey was guarded in his comments when he spoke to The Sunday Gleaner last week.

"I am not at liberty to go into the details of the matter, but on the face of it, there is a flagrant breach of my client's constitutional rights, especially the right to privacy," said Bailey.

He said this breach must also be put on the table as the junior minister had no authority to seize the phones.