Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has said that the failure of government to grant a diplomatic passport to embattled senior executive member of the ruling New National Party (NNP), Terry Forrester might have triggered his animosity towards the political group.
Speaking to local reporters Tuesday at a post-Cabinet press briefing, the Prime Minister said that Forrester’s failure to land the diplomatic passport apparently angered him and left him disgruntled.
According to Dr. Mitchell, Forrester asked for a Diplomatic Passport for both he and his wife to travel during her days of illness but he refused the request on the basis that it could encourage other persons to make the same approaches.
Prime Minister Mitchell said it was not the first time that the senior NNP member had asked to be given Diplomatic Passport status.
“It is unfortunate that that (passport issue) was ever brought to the public because it may not have necessarily been in Mr. Forrester’s favour for that to be known”, he told reporters.
“At the executive meeting when Terry came to present his concerns (about being overlooked as the NNP Caretaker for St. George South constituency), he mentioned two issues that hurt him very badly…when he asked me for Diplomatic Passport…he had asked me before and it had nothing to do with his wife and I said there is a basis for Diplomatic Passport”, he said.
The Grenadian leader pointed out that as Prime Minister, he “cannot just give people Diplomatic Passport”.
“You have to be in a certain category of representation in the country with the government…”, he said.
Prime Minister Mitchell stated that when Forrester came back and asked for diplomatic passports for both he and his ailing wife it was again rejected.
“I said (to Forrester) we are prepared to facilitate her travels through our diplomatic community offices abroad (but) to give a Diplomatic Passport to both he and his wife at the time, just to travel…a lot of people will come forward and ask for the same thing and a Diplomatic Passport will become just a travel document now,” said Dr. Mitchell.
The Prime Minister told reporters that he got the impression that Forrester understood the position and was very much surprised that he re-introduced the issue in addressing the National Executive on the South St. George Caretaker matter.
“The fact is I showed understanding and he agreed with that, that I did not just say forget it. It’s unfortunate that he stated that as one of his main concerns, as one of things that got him really angry…as I said I feel sorry for Terry and I have no animosity at all,” he said.
Forrester has responded to Dr. Mitchell’s utterances on the issue of the diplomatic passport.
He stopped short of calling him a liar since he never made a request for a new diplomatic passport.
He spoke of having a diplomatic passport during the 2003-08 rule of a former Mitchell-led NNP regime but it was taken away from him by the Congress government of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.
According to Forrester, the diplomatic passport was still valid when the NNP came back into power following its victory in the 2013 poll.
He spoke of making an initial approach to then Foreign Affairs Minister, Nicholas Steele for the diplomatic passport to return to him but was given the “bluff” by the minister for nearly a year.
Forrester said that when his wife got seriously ill he decided to go directly to PM Mitchell for the return of the passport.
He said: “Regarding my diplomatic passport, I never asked for a new one, I simply asked for its return in light of my wife’s severe 4th stage cancer to save her the agony and pain of having to wait hours in line at the Miami airport. All the PM had to do was to make a call.
“He (PM Mitchell) refused, although I shared with him very private health issues of her time on earth being diagnosed as very critical and short. My wife broke down in tears in her weak and feeble state of health to learn of this ungrateful act by PM Mitchell at the Miami airport when I told her that the PM did not release the passport.
“I even told PM that I would return the passport when she “passes” while trying to understand this ungrateful and uncaring act. The said passport remains at the Foreign Affairs office having been taken when NDC was in office”.