The main opposition St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) is still not convinced by the prime minister’s response regarding the resignation of former senator Jimmy Henry.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, in his first comment on the matter since being back from vacation, reassured reporters at a pre-cabinet briefing on August 7, that despite speculation, Henry’s resignation was not due to any looming criminal investigation.
Chastanet told reporters that Henry has not done anything wrong and added that he thanked the former senator for doing an “amazing job” in the Ministry of Physical Planning.
However, Opposition Leader and Political Leader of the SLP, Philip J. Pierre told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday, August 15 that Chastanet has returned from holiday and “continues from where he left, refusing to answer questions with any clarity”.
Pierre further stated: “On the issue of the sudden resignation of Jimmy Henry having been searched by immigration officials at a local airport, he claimed that he Jimmy Henry was doing an ‘amazing’ job in the Ministry of Physical Planning. Yet the Prime Minister readily accepted his resignation following the airport search citing ‘personal reasons for his departure’.”
Pierre said given the circumstances surrounding the resignation of the former minister, the prime minister owes it to the people as to what qualities “so inspired him about Jimmy Henry to entrust him with a cabinet post. And what of those personal reasons following the stop and search incident at the airport that has so encumbered him that he can no longer continue to serve as a government minister?”
Pierre said Chastanet needs to be more forthcoming on this incident “otherwise we are inclined to believe that he has exercised poor judgement in appointing a man who was rejected by the people to serve in his Cabinet only to depart under a cloud of suspicion”.
“The question remains: did the prime minister exercise due diligence prior to appointing Jimmy Henry to serve as a cabinet ministe?” Pierre asked.
One day before Henry’s resignation, both Minister for Home Affairs, Justice and National Security Hermangild Francis and Acting Commissioner of Police Milton Desir had denied any knowledge of and refuted allegations of a recent police investigation relating to the ex-senator.
The allegations had stemmed from a disclosure made by former government minister Richard Frederick on his live television talk show on July 6. Frederick had alleged that Henry was stopped by police at the George F.L. Charles Airport and questioned regarding his alleged possession of a significant sum of undisclosed cash.
However, Minister Francis, in an exclusive interview with HTS on July 11, denied knowing of any investigation regarding Henry and suggested that the allegation is political mischief.
Top cop, Desir, told HTS that he gave no order to investigate Senator Henry.
Reports are that the alleged investigation had involved Barbados law enforcement.