Wed | Dec 8, 2021

Pressure on Kamina

Crawford, AJ, KD demand release of harassment emails

Published:Tuesday | April 27, 2021 | 12:20 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/Gleaner Writer
Senator Kamina Johnson Smith has accused a then government senator aligned to the People’s National Party of cyber harassment.
Senator Kamina Johnson Smith has accused a then government senator aligned to the People’s National Party of cyber harassment.

Former and current male senators aligned to the People’s National Party (PNP) have joined the call for Senator Kamina Johnson Smith to produce the harassing emails she alleges were sent to her by a member of the Opposition and which sparked a police probe.

Johnson Smith, who is leader of government business in the Senate, did not name her alleged harasser when she made the disclosure during last Friday’s sitting of the Upper House or give the timeline.

She disclosed that she was advised to stop running by the police, who felt that it would be justifiable for her to press charges. However, she did not proceed with the matter which dates back more than six years ago.

Among those calling for Johnson Smith to produce the evidence is PNP Senator Damion Crawford.

“If it is true, she has a duty to the nation to highlight it and I think she also has a duty to the Parliament to highlight it, and if it is not true, she would have done a great disservice to women generally,” he said.

Crawford said that Johnson Smith’s statement has impugned the character of opposition senators and believes releasing the emails could bring closure to the speculation.

“Now we are assuming who it was and we are also assuming what was the level of harassment. Was it sexual harassment? What was the level? What was the type of harassment and who was it?” he said.

Crawford said that members of the public might theorise that he was the subject of the investigation because of his recent stand-offs with the senator.

The most recent confrontation was during the March debate on the Appropriations Bill when he declared that critics of Prime Minister Andrew Holnesss have been arrested. He was challenged by Johnson Smith, who demanded that he withdraw the statement.

“Because of the recent efforts put forward by her to bully me, persons may assume it is me. Other than jokingly, no one has suggested it, but I don’t speak or interact with everybody in this country, so she has a duty, in my opinion, to clear that up,” Crawford said.

“I know I have never emailed her, I have never had conversations with her outside of Parliament, and I know it could not be me.”

End speculation

A.J. Nicholson, who was one of the 13 government senators in 2014, has endorsed a press statement issued by deputy leader of opposition business in the Upper House, Donna Scott-Mottley. She wants the claimed harassment emails to be produced for examination.

“The real important thing at this point is that we need the emails. That is the only way you can really know if there is any truth to what is being said,” said Nicholson, who served as the minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, the same post Johnson Smith now holds.

“The leader of government business can put an end to those speculations. Just release the emails, the emails with who it is coming from and what is said. Simple as that!” he said.

K.D. Knight, another then senator in 2014, believes that a refusal to disclose the emails will likely harm the credibility of the leader of government business.

“I can say, having made an accusation in Parliament, in the Senate rather, and having been called on to provide the emails, if she fails to do so, then the credibility of her assertion becomes questionable,” said the attorney.

Knight scoffed at the idea that he could be the guilty then-senator.

“I don’t think they are looking at me. I am brave to say that because they know that if I had had something to say, I would have said it there and then in the Senate,” he said.

Johnson Smith’s explosive disclosure was made after Scott-Mottley chided women government senators who had signed a joint statement condemning violence against women in the George Wright assault scandal.

Wright has not confirmed or denied that he was the man in a viral video pummelling a woman with his fist and a stool.

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com