Monday 9 December, 2019

Stuart Young slams ‘erroneous’ T&T Express report

National Security Minister Stuart Young is labelling as ‘misleading’ and ‘mischievous’ a T&T Express report which questioned how he got information on a UNC member’s criminal record after the man appeared on the UNC’s Monday Night’s Forum earlier this week.

In his defence, Young sought to remind members of the public that his portfolio as Minister of National Security comes with the territory of being briefed about numerous issues involving crimes and criminal elements.

“As the Minister of National Security, the officeholder receives many security briefings on matters and issues that affect the national and even international landscape. On a daily basis throughout the day, a Minister of National Security receives briefings on many issues of a national security nature. In fact, the media constantly reaches out to me for comment on crimes and national security issues e.g. murders, accidents, border breaches and other serious issues. By definition, the media and the public expect the Minister of National Security to be aware of issues related to the criminal landscape in Trinidad and Tobago.”

Calling out senior Express reporter Anna Ramdass, Young chided her for questioning the steps he took to receive the information. 

“What I can assure the public of, is that, I did not call for, or seek of my own volition, the information surrounding this individual who it was reported by the same Express Newspaper, and the same reporter, Anna Ramdass, a week ago, was shot nine times. I did not ask for any report of my own volition. A report was provided to me, as many reports are, on a daily basis. This is an issue of national security.”

The National Security Minister also responded to Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, who on Tuesday during an interview on a morning television talk show, also questioned how Young got in possession of the criminal record of the man who had 22 charges laid against him, including convictions.

Young said he chose to ignore it, labelling the concerns ‘pure political mischief’.

However, the Minister said he opted to respond when the Express report accused him of labelling the speaker at the MNF as a criminal, based on charges alone. Young pointed out a contradiction within the story written by Ramdass, where the individual is quoted as admitting to having been convicted of criminal offences.

“This accusation by the Express Newspaper against me is completely contradicted by its own lead story at page 3 of its February 20, 2019 edition in a story written by Anna Ramdass, which is advertised on its front page as, “NO HELP FROM PNM, Young man who appeared on UNC platform lashes back at Stuart”. I draw attention to paragraph four of the said lead story in the Express where the newspaper prints, “Hughes admitted he was charged with several offences, some of which he pleaded guilty to and was fined or received bail.”Therefore, the same Express newspaper, as its lead story confirms what I knew as Minister of National Security, i.e. that this young man has been convicted of criminal charges and it was not merely accusations against him as the editorial suggests.”

Young said this proves the falseness of the article.

“This shows clearly, without me even needing to provide the facts myself, that the Express’ editorial criticism of me is completely unfounded. It also shows unfortunately, that the newspaper chose to ignore the facts reported by it, in the same edition of its paper, that there were convictions. Rather, the editorial falsely accuses me of disregarding due process, an allegation that is completely false and misleading.”

The National Security Minister is now calling for more fair and responsible reporting by the Express newspaper, particularly in its editorial.

He said while he supports the press, he believes it must operate in a more professional manner.

“I believe fully in the freedom of the press and I will always defend this principle. It is however incumbent on the media and editorials to be fair, factually correct and accurate as they carry a responsibility to us the public to so be.”

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