Trinidad and Tobago
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Deputy Speaker sends Tancoo to Privileges Committee

Clint Chan Tack UNC chairman Davendranath Tancoo. -
UNC chairman Davendranath Tancoo. -

DEPUTY Speaker Esmond Forde ruled that a prima-facie case of a breach of parliamentary privilege had been made against Oropouche West MP Davedranath Tancoo, over statements he reportedly made outside Parliament about Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George.

Forde made his ruling at the start of a sitting of the House of Representatives on Friday.

Referring to a motion filed by Port of Spain South MP Keith Scotland, he said, "At a first glance (at) all the surrounding issues and relevant learnings, I am of the view that a prima-facie case for breach of privilege has been established."

He referred the matter to the House's Privileges Committee, for investigation and report.

In his motion, Scotland said Tancoo made his claims against Annisette-George at a UNC news conference on November 13.

At that briefing, Scotland continued, Tancoo said, "Even Madam Speaker herself must know persons who have been affected by crime, persons who have been robbed, raped, assaulted and battered."

He said Tancoo also claimed that in dismissing a request by Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein to persuade the House to debate crime as an urgent matter of definite public importance, Annisette-George allegedly said no crime was important enough and it was not urgent enough to warrant a debate.

Scotland scrutinised the Parliament's records with respect to Tancoo's claims, he said.

"I am at pains to identify a single instance that can support this untruthful and damaging narrative."

Scotland said Tancoo's statement "constitutes a false and perverted report of the proceedings of the House, which is in itself a contempt."

The publication of such a statement can bring both the House and Annisette-George into public odium and disrepute.

Scotland also argued that Tancoo "wilfully misrepresented the process by which a Speaker considers an application for an adjournment of the House to debate a definite matter of public urgent importance."

Tancoo was unfazed by his referral to the Privileges Committee.

He said, "I will not be muzzled. As an elected MP and as a citizen, I am obligated to raise and speak on issues that affect not just my constituents, but all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.

"Crime is the most significant issue in our country."