Dorothy withdraws statement; KD moves on
JUSTICE Minister Dorothy Lightbourne yesterday withdrew an allegation that KD Knight had told her that "all Labourite fi dead", some 30 years ago but did not apologise to him for the statement that resulted in the derailment of the afternoon session of Thursday's sitting of the Dudus/Manatt Commission of Enquiry.
Lightbourne had made the statement during the morning session at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston while being cross-examined by Knight. The statement was only brought to Knight's attention during the luncheon break causing him -- at the start of the afternoon session -- to demand a withdrawal and an apology.
Knight had suggested that if Lightbourne did not apologise for what he described as an "egregious lie" and "evil statement", designed to jeopardise his security he could not guarantee further participation in the enquiry looking into the Government's handling of the Christopher 'Dudus' Coke extradition request.
But Lightbourne on Thursday refused to apologise, insisting that Knight had made the statement in 1980 during a lunch at his chambers, following the deadly general election of that year in which the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) was swept to power. She, however, apologised to the commissioner, noting that it was "inappropriate" for her to make the allegation during the enquiry.
Yesterday morning, an almost tense hush fell on the enquiry as Lightbourne and Knight took their seats. The anxiety of what may come was evident on the faces of spectators, who had been speculating as to whether or not the minister would apologise to Knight.
"Yesterday," Lightbourne started, "before the adjournment, I apologised to the commission for a remark I had made prior to the luncheon break to which Mr Knight subsequently took offence. I said then that it would be inappropriate to have made that remark in the context of this commission. I now wish to withdraw that remark."
Although the apology was not forthcoming, Knight said he would not allow that to derail the enquiry.
"Chairman... I have considered this matter and I have come to this conclusion: I'm not going to allow this contretempts, which has arisen because of a faulty memory, to derail the proceedings," said Knight. "This is bigger than Dorothy Lightbourne. This is bigger than KD Knight. This is about the people's business, and the people's business must continue."
All that aside, Knight continued his cross-examination of Lightbourne who said she was not derelict in her ministerial duties when she signed the authority to proceed with extradition proceedings against Coke, despite her position that there was not sufficient evidence. Knight said he intends to show that Lightbourne had carried out her duties corruptly.
Knight had earlier showed up at the enquiry with a security detail, comprising members of the Protective Services Division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. The security team was assigned to Knight in the wake of Lightbourne's allegation. He had, immediately after Lightbourne's allegation, expressed concerns that some misguided person may now attempt to harm him.
Meanwhile, security at the conference centre was increased. The conference room in which the enquiry is been kept has been beefed up with a number of police officers and supporters of both the ruling Jamaica Labour Party and the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) were thoroughly searched before being allowed inside.
The increased security is due to heated verbal clashes between supporters, which, at times, threatened to become violent.
Security Minister Dwight Nelson and Councillor Eugene Kelly (PNP, Whitfield Division) also had a verbal altercation on Thursday.
Unlike in previous days, party supporters are now mostly dressed in neutral colours.
The enquiry continues on Monday with Lightbourne's continued cross-examination.