Sunday, September 22, 2013

THA Unjustly Blamed for Strip and Cavity Search says London.

The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) is now facing lawsuits for allegedly sectioning an unlawful strip and cavity search by police officers on an employee in the Division of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport. However, Tobago’s Chief Secretary, Orville London is of the view that the THA is being punished for a situation it had nothing to do with and the police had all authority to conduct the search. He is urging everyone to listen to the other side of the story before drawing conclusions.

Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at the Division of Education Youth Affairs and Sport, Carla Batson- Orr, was forced to strip off her clothing at an office at her place of work two weeks ago in search of a flash drive that went missing four days earlier. The search was conducted by police officers, in the presence of senior officials of the Division. Since then, there has been public outcry of the search and workers of the Division have staged several protests in support of their colleague.

London, however, is the first public official to have expressed empathy to the female employee. “On behalf of the THA, I empathize with the young lady, who must have had, based on the information that has come to light, a very harrowing experience, and obviously that is not something that should be condoned. But I also want us to get the facts straight. I have seen a report from the administrator, who has indicated that contrary to what has now been branded about, that she was nowhere in the vicinity when the particular situation developed,” London told the media on Wednesday.

Tobago’s senior politician said he found it interesting that the THA should be dragged into this and that in effect, very serious allegations are being made against the THA and against officials of the THA; giving the impression that the Assembly would have condoned the action.

He was adamant that the THA has no control over the actions of the police. “I think common sense would tell us that if you report an incident to the police and when the police arrives on the scene, you have absolutely no jurisdiction against them. Therefore, in effect, according to what I have been advised, if you try to interfere in any way, whether it is to ostensibly support or to prevent, you can in fact be guilty of obstruction of police in the performance of their duties,” he added.

London also took a swipe at Attorney Martin George, who is representing Batson-Orr, stating that he finds it very unfortunate that an officer of the court should in fact ‘be attempting to mislead the public of Tobago in this quite unseemly manner’. The Chief Secretary nonetheless, expressed confidence that Tobagonians are beginning to come to the realisation that for whatever reason, efforts are being made to drag the Tobago House of Assembly into this situation and to apportion the blame, when according to the information and just common sense, that blame should not be apportioned. “So I want to reiterate that obviously, not just as a Chief Secretary, but as a human being, I emphasize with the young lady that would have gone through this experience. But I do not think it is fair to the THA that it should be denigrated in this manner, in a situation where as far as I am aware, the agents of the THA could not, could not have influenced the police in this particular action or this alleged action,” he insisted.

Meanwhile, Secretary of the Division, Gary Melville has denied rumours that the Administrator would be leaving the Division next week. Staff at the Division have informed Tobago News that the administrator has stopped meeting with staff and the public since the incident and has largely been confined to her office. Sources told Tobago News, the administrator is preparing for her departure from the Division. However, Secretary Melville, adamantly stated, he has no such information. Chief Administrator Dr. Ellis Burris had not responded to our calls and text messages up to press time.

Source: Tobagonews

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