Journalists evicted from hub meeting despite invitation
Richard Browne, Business Writer
The media were evicted from a meeting on Jamaica's global logistics hub project between the Jamaica Exporters' Association (JEA) and Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister Anthony Hylton yesterday afternoon, despite an earlier invitation.
The move comes at a time when controversy has been heating up over a Chinese firm's proposal to build its own logistics hub on the Goat Islands, located off the coast of St Catherine, which are part of an environmentally protected area.
The Gleaner had managed to avoid the eviction initially, but Joan Hutchinson, an official from the communications section of the ministry, was alerted.
"The minister has requested a private meeting without the media," said Hutchinson, who pointedly told The Gleaner to leave the meeting.
Prior to that incident, Jean Smith apologised to the JEA members for the late start. She said Hylton was in the building and would be coming in shortly, now that the media had left.
The meeting started about 40 minutes late as a result.
"We aren't blaming anybody," Hutchinson later told The Gleaner, when asked why the media had been evicted.
"It (the invitation) was an error on our part," she said.
Another media representative who managed to re-enter the meeting was later approached by Hutchinson once more. The reporter told her that since he had been invited by the JEA, the industry ministry had no right to expel him. Hutchinson then consulted with a JEA official, who then requested that the reporter leave.
The ministry of issued a statement last night restating it had sent the invitation to the media to attend what was a private meeting in error. It was to host a press briefing this morning to update the nation on issues related to the logistics hub.