Minister demands compensation, apology from Opposition leader, two journalists

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ROSEAU, Dominica, Feb 21, CMC – Foreign Affairs Minister Francine Baron Tuesday said she has given Opposition Leader Lennox Linton and two journalists until Friday to apologise and pay US$10,000 each to a charity of her choice over remarks she said they made defaming her character.
Baron said that the issue goes back to November 2014, when she served as Dominica’s High Commissioner to Britain and involves a US$10,000 donation.
“I have today issued a letter to Lennox Linton, Matt Peltier, Angelo Alleyne, and West Indies Communications Enterprise the owners of Q95 where I have demanded an apology from them for defaming my character,” Baron told the state-owned DBS radio.
“I am of the view also that I am entitled to significant damages for this sustained campaign… but I do not want one black cent from them, instead I have asked them to pay the same USD10,000 that they were so concerned about, to a Dominican Charity of my choice,” she told radio listeners.
Baron said that that she had been the target of a “sustained campaign” by the trio, adding “they have alleged that I received a cheque of US$10,000 while in Malaysia for a Dominica Disaster Development Fund and that I misappropriated those funds for my own use.
“This is a very serious allegation which has led to calls by some persons for me to be arrested and investigated by the police. I had hoped that common sense would have prevailed and that people would have realised that I could not possibly have cashed a cheque that was not made out in my name and further that they would have done even a cursory internet cheque to verify the existence of the organisation referenced on the cheque and to contact that organisation to determine whether they received those funds.”
Baron told the radio station that while she served as the island’s High Commissioner in London she was asked to represent the Government at a function being held in Malaysia to celebrate Dominica’s Independence.
“I arrived in Malaysia on the 2nd, participated in the function on the 3rd and left the next day to return to London. At that function I symbolically accepted a cheque from the KB Foundation made out to the Dominica National Disaster and Development Fund, the (DNDDF). This is an amalgamation of a number of Dominican Associations in the UK and it is a registered Charity established since 1991.
“I am neither a member or entitled to any benefit from that Charity. As soon as I returned to London I informed the Secretary of the Charity of the donation to them and asked them to contact the Foundation to have the funds transferred to them. I am informed that the Charity has since received those funds.”
But she said Linton and others have been repeating false allegations about her under the false pretence of the public need to know.
“However not once have they sought to contact me to ask me about this cheque. They never once contacted the High Commission in London, they never sought to contact the Charity. If anyone Googles that name they will find all of the contact information of the Trustees of that Charity. They never contacted them,” Baron said.
She said that representatives of the charity came to Dominica in September, 2015 after Tropical Storm Erika and their presence here was reported in the local media as a result of the donation made to the Red Cross.
She said that if Linton and the journalists were so interested in what happened to the money, they made “no attempt to contact the representatives of the charity and ask them one question about that cheque.
“You should ask them why. Because it is not about telling the truth, it is not about gathering the facts<’ she said, adding that “the practice has arisen in Dominica where people feel empowered to make all sorts of baseless allegations against others without providing any proof of what they say.”

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