A police officer has been assigned to speak with PNM MP for Port-of-Spain South Marlene McDonald to see if she’s willing to give a statement on her claim that Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar had tipped her off that police would have been coming to arrest her.
Guardian Media confirmed this from reliable police sources yesterday.
It’s the latest development in the matter after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, on September 9 claimed Persad-Bissessar tipped off McDonald about her August arrest by police.
McDonald was charged on August 10 with seven alleged corruption charges including money laundering. Four other people are also on a total of 49 charges.
After Rowley’s claim, McDonald confirmed that four to five weeks before her arrest, Persad-Bissessar had told her police were “coming for her.”
McDonald said she called Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and National Security’s Stuart Young on it. Al-Rawi confirmed she called him.
Persad-Bissessar remained mum after Rowley and McDonald’s claims.
Her attorney Israel Khan said she had a right to do so.
Last weekend sources pointed Guardian Media to Section 51 of the Proceeds of Crime Act (1-6).
That states that tipping off a person whom police are investigating or plan to (in money laundering matters) is an offence.
Police told Guardian Media that casual banter wouldn’t meet the act’s threshold but a serious warning would and if McDonald’s claim was true, criminal offence could arise. They said questions had to be answered “ahead.”
The Guardian subsequently confirmed senior police had assigned a female officer to see if McDonald would be willing to give a report on her claim.
Yesterday they couldn’t say if the officer has met with her yet.
However, sources close to McDonald said yesterday she hadn’t been called upon by police. McDonald hasn’t been speaking since the furore broke. She said last week that her attorneys have banned her from speaking.
After Rowley sarcastically noted Persad-Bissessar’s silence on Monday, she subsequently referred to the matter during a UNC meeting in Wednesday. But she only said she had no further intention of talking further about “MarleneGate”, the matter is sub judice and being a lawyer, she didn’t “want to put her mouth in that.”
Both McDonald and Persad-Bissessar are expected in Parliament today. McDonald hasn’t attended since Parliament went on recess in July. She skipped the last few sittings after being charged.
Persad-Bissessar who was absent last week, is expected to attend, since her private motion seeking to debate repeal of the Sedition Bill is listed on today’s Lower House agenda.
Persad-Bissessar filed the motion recently following public debate on the sedition law when president of the Public Service Association (PSA) Watson Duke was charged under the Sedition Act.
The Opposition and other quarters contend that the law is outdated. Government initially stonewalled on the issue, but subsequently said it was “open to review” of the bill. However Government officials have also stated there’s been no sign of proposed alternatives to the bill.
Persad-Bissessar’s motion is last on the agenda. If it arises she’ll have to give a five minute submission on why it should be debated and the House—controlled by Government—has to vote on it. UNC whip David Lee said yesterday since it’s not a normal motion, based on Parliament’s Standing Orders (Regulations) it’ll be a priority.