SPORT Minister Darryl Smith does not have the moral standing to sit in the Parliament or represent any woman in Trinidad and Tobago, says Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who yesterday called for his immediate dismissal. Woman’s rights group Womantra has also indicated that it has no confidence in the minister.
The Sunday Express yesterday exclusively reported the sexual advances allegations made by Carrie-Ann Moreau, Smith’s former personal secretary, in her witness statement in support of her complaint of wrongful dismissal at the Industrial Court.
The matter was settled and Moreau was awarded $150,000 in damages in a non-disclosure agreement. In response to questions from the Express yesterday, Persad-Bissessar said the country has passed the stage of questioning if Smith should be fired as a minister.
‘With every second that passes as he (Smith) sits in the Government and as an MP in Diego Martin, is an insult to all women and the men who stand beside them as equals. The behaviour described by the young woman (Moreau) is reprehensible, and he should be immediately dismissed from public office. He should not only be fired as a minister but he should also be removed as an MP,’ stated Persad-Bissessar via e-mail.
She noted that the disclosures in the Sunday Expressreport spoke to Moreau’s experiences with Smith at his constituency office.
‘Is the minister using the MP’s office to prey on vulnerable women seeking help? Further the question must be asked has this been the experience of any other women who have sought his help? In light of these questions arising out of this situation how then can the MP be trusted to represent the plight of women who seek his help?’ stated Persad-Bissessar.
‘Sex, lies and ferrytales’
Persad-Bissessar pointed out that as Prime Minister she took a zero-tolerance approach with members of her Cabinet, and mandated them to ensure that they maintained the highest standards of conduct in the execution of their ministerial responsibilities.
‘It is completely unacceptable. Darryl Smith’s actions must be roundly condemned, and measures must be put in place for public monies to be repaid. This is a matter that should not be taken lightly, and I reiterate that he must be held personally accountable,’ stated Persad-Bissessar. She stated that Smith’s alleged behaviour amounts to misbehaviour in public office.
‘….By virtue of assuming a role in public office and taking the oath to serve the people of Trinidad and Tobago, he should have maintained the highest standards of behaviour and uphold the integrity of the office. Most working women know what it is like to be faced with some form of sexual inappropriateness in the workplace. This is unacceptable. As a country, we must ensure that our mothers, daughters and wives can advance themselves without fear of sexual advancements by those in authority. This is an issue we must face head on,’ she stated.
Persad-Bissessar disclosed that she was in the process of drafting a private members bill to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace and in educational institutions which she intends to take to Parliament. It was only last week that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said he had full confidence in all of his ministers. Persad-Bissessar stated that the Rowley- led Government is now one of ‘sex, lies and ferrytales’ and they should all be removed from office. Smith, she said, is simply following in his political leader’s footsteps.
Published by Trinidad Express 9th April 2018