Former Public Relations Officer of the ruling New National Party (NNP), Terrence Forrester has painted the island’s 70-year old Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell as a man without a caring heart.
Addressing reporters at the much-publicised “bomb-shell” press conference on Monday at Tropicana restaurant on the Lagoon waterfront, Forrester sought to explain the request he made to the Grenadian leader for the return of a diplomatic passport that was assigned to him during the 2003-08 rule of a previous Mitchell administration.
The passport was recalled by the former National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas after the change of government following the 2008 general elections.
According to Forrester, he asked PM Mitchell for the return of the diplomatic passport in order to help ease the long wait at the Miami International Airport for his wife who was travelling to receive cancer treatment.
He denied statements made last week by Dr. Mitchell that the request was for diplomatic passports to be issued to both himself and his wife.
“I never asked for a brand new passport for myself nor my wife. I simply said (to the Prime Minister) can I have it back? It (the passport) was still valid, plus the 10-year visa still in it, I think it expires sometime at the end of 2017”, he said.
According to Forrester the response from Prime Minister Mitchell was simple whenever you wished to travel inform him.
“I said Political Leader I consider your response to be equated as a “no” because you know in this 21st Century, no one…not even a Prime Minister could call the US Immigration or State Department and request to them diplomatic services for whatever courtesies to anyone.
“These days you have to go through the process – you either obtain (a diplomatic passport) or you don’t. So I said to him, we’re not in the 1970’s or 80’s Political Leader, so I consider what you are saying to be a no.
With tears in his eyes, Forrester stated that the Prime Minister was fully aware of how ill his wife was but did not see it as fitting enough to give him back the diplomatic passport.
He said: “I even shared with him very private medical information. I said to him I have just brought her back from Holland where she was in Hospital and she only has six months…I therefore only wanted to just ease her pain.
“Nonetheless, the day came when I had to take her to Miami for her first Chemo treatment…the Honourable Oliver Joseph (Minister for Economic Development) was on the same flight. He could hardly recognise her because of the devastating effects of Cancer on her.
“When we landed in Miami, she saw him…she also saw that he was being met by officials and she said to me, you got the passport…I said no darling…that woman broke down in tears. She said your 33 years; your Political Leader and Prime Minister could not have given you back something that is already there, I too worked for 33 years for this party in case he forgot. It took us three hours to get out of Immigration because there were hundreds of people there,
“…I can never forgive, at least I am trying to forgive my Political Leader and Prime Minister for contributing to the agony and pain of my wife in the last two months of her life…she passed away three months after that unfortunate experience.
Forrester told reporters that it was very difficult for him to hear Prime Minister Mitchell at the post-Cabinet press briefing at the Botanical Gardens not speaking the truth about the issue with the Diplomatic Passport.
“This has been one of my most difficult moments and to hear my Prime Minister and Political Leader in the media giving the impression that I was demanding passports from him for my wife and I, it is a blatant lie, blatant lie…
“I made no such request. I simply said let me have back the passport that is sitting in Foreign Affairs…it is valid. I even went further to say Prime Minister I guarantee you that I will return that passport to you whenever she so passes because her time is short…that did not even move him.
“…The ungratefulness that I have seen was unprecedented. I have never done anything wrong to my Prime Minister and Political Leader and I still respect him. I will still greet him well and wish him well but for anyone to have to suffer such after serving for so long, you have to ask yourself the question, what went wrong? And today I am still trying to seek those answers…”.
Prior to approaching Dr. Mitchell for a return of the diplomatic passport, Forrester said that he had raised the issue with former Foreign Affairs Minister, Nickolas Steele and Deputy Prime Minister, Elvin Nimrod who took over the portfolio after the first Cabinet reshuffle.
He said the response of the two ministers on every occasion was that they will look into it.