By Carlena Knight
“Provide the names or apologise.” This was the call made by Democratic National Alliance (DNA) member Anthony Stuart to MP Michael Browne over recent allegations Browne made that police officers had tried to bribe him.
Stuart was speaking on the Observer AM showon Tuesday when he made the demand.
Shortly after MP Browne was found not guilty of a serious criminal offence last year, Browne alleged that various people, including police officers, had tried to extort money from him during the case.
In fact, he told a Facebook Live broadcast in December that local lawmen should not be trusted.
On December 20, the police administration requested that Browne provide information, including the names of the officers allegedly involved in the conspiracy, so that an internal investigation could be carried out.
But Police Commissioner Atlee Rodney told Observer earlier this week that no such information has yet been presented by MP Browne.
Yesterday, Stuart spoke out about the matter referring to Browne’s statements as “heavy-loaded and “most unfortunate” as they paint the police force as corrupt.
Stuart said not only are these comments detrimental to the police force’s credibility but the nation as a whole if left unaddressed.
“It is not only wrong but it would have, I would think, a deleterious effect on our nation in the eyes of the world because it is coming from a minister, a person who sits in the highest chamber of our country, and this would give currency to the perception that is held by many around the world that Antigua and Barbuda is a corrupt country,” Stuart said.
He said the fact that the allegations followed claims, also made last year, that Indian businessman Mehul Choksi was kidnapped from Antigua exacerbate negative perceptions of the twin island nation.
“If we have all these scandals here around our necks and the minister now is coming to the world and telling the world that we have a corrupt police force and we cannot trust them, what is he saying about our nation?” Stuart asked.
It is unclear whether the police will give Browne more time before renewing calls for him to substantiate his claims. Commissioner Rodney did not immediately respond to a request for further comment yesterday.
But lawmen previously said the assertions of bribery and collusion by members of the police force, in an apparent attempt to influence the outcome of the criminal proceedings against Browne, were viewed to be very serious.
Stuart is now calling on the All Saints West parliamentary representative to either provide the names of the accused or issue a public apology.
“I am calling on MP Michael Browne to immediately name that police officer who tried to blackmail him. He must name that police officer and if he cannot he must come to this nation and apologise to the nation and let us know he misspoke, because after this unfortunate statement Michael Browne was appointed minister,” the DNA member said.
“The honourable Gaston Browne is one that claims to be a champion of good governance and this sequence of events cannot be seen as good governance. So, if the honourable MP is not coming to the nation to explain himself or to name that individual, that one bad egg, then the honourable Gaston Browne, the champion of good governance, has no alternative but to immediately dismiss Michael Browne again,” Stuart added.
He is adamant that a few rogue officers should not be allowed to continue to stain the credibility of the police force.
Repeated attempts to reach MP Browne for comment have been unsuccessful.