The weekly New Today newspaper could be in for a rough ride from the one-year old government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
Dr. Mitchell who also holds the portfolio of Minister of Information launched a scathing attack on the four-year-old newspaper last week Thursday while presenting the amendments to the Electronic Crimes Bill 2014 during a sitting of the House of Representatives at the Grenada Trade Center.
There have been numerous calls for amendments to the Bill from regional and international media Organisations that were unhappy in particular with Sections 6, 16 and 25.
The government finally removed the controversial from the hurriedly passed legislation, which some critics regarded as seeking to bring back criminal libel onto the Grenadian law books after it was outlawed by the former Congress government of Tillman Thomas.
While not identifying the newspaper by name, Dr. Mitchell labeled it as being a “scandal sheet” and that it was being published illegally in the country.
“The court said you cannot publish… Temporarily close down, print another name and continue a scandal sheet, illegally disobeying the laws,” he said of the weekly newspaper.
In October 2009, High Court Judge Madam Justice Clare Henry ordered the liquidation of the Grenada Today Newspaper following court action taken against it by Dr. Mitchell.
Shortly thereafter the New Today Newspaper emerged on the streets and immediately gained popularity in the advertising market and through readership.
Dr. Mitchell who was visibly upset over the production of the newspaper criticised Government Ministries and Departments for placing advertisement in the newspaper.
“You even have government departments sending ads in that illegal entity, and I say that’s fundamentally wrong. That means the government itself is participating in an immoral act, and I’m unhappy that am Head of a Government participating in an immoral act, advertising in an illegal piece of document. I say that for what it is worth,” he said.
The Grenadian leader is known to be spearheading fresh efforts to get at the GRENADA TODAY-in-Liquidation.
He has secured the services of local attorney-at-law, Venescia Francis-Banfield to remove accountant Garvey Louison as the court-appointed Liquidator of the now defunct newspaper.
PM Mitchell is said to be interested in installing another accountant, Rupert Agostini, a member of the Integrity Commission, as the new Liquidator.
Despite his attacks on NEW TODAY, the Prime Minister also used the occasion to call on the media to be a watchdog for the society.
He said if the government does something wrong the media has the responsibility to expose it.
Dr. Mitchell said his government is not afraid of being scrutinised hence the reason why they came forward and declared their assets before the Integrity Commission.
Two other Members of Parliament also added their voices in an attempt to belittle The New Today Newspaper.
Tobias Clement who is the Representative for St. George’s North East told the House that he too has some issues.
Clement who does not hold a ministerial portfolio in the government indicated that a few weeks ago it was headlined on the back page of a “certain newspaper” about his personal business.
“If am making a million dollars a year that’s ok, I didn’t steal it,” he said
Clement spoke of the story that was carried in the New Today Newspaper as being politically motivated.
“I believe it goes to the survival of certain political entities and to the survival of certain individuals, and between that and themselves stand Mr. Tobias Clement,” he said
THE NEW TODAY had carried a story about the two salaries allegedly amounting to close to EC$20, 000.00 that Clement was receiving from St. George’s University (SGU) and from the budget of Parliament.
Nickolas Steele, the Member for the town of St. George said there appears to be a mentality now that those who have entered politics have less rights than other Grenadians.
Steele said the onus is no longer on certain independent Journalists to prove their stories and when they print something to defend their actions if they are untrue.
“In our willingness to hear the voice of the media at large and to recognise where concerns are coming from, we now place the responsibility of proper protections of electronic media back into their hands,” he said.
Steele has been scrutiny since as Minister of Foreign Affairs his wife, attorney-at-law, Michelle Emmanuel-Steele was also appointed by the current rulers as an agent to facilitate the sale of Grenadian passports.