Fri | Sep 24, 2021

‘IT’S ALL A BIG LIE’

Nicholson rejects Johnson Smith’s accusations in email saga

Published:Sunday | May 16, 2021 | 12:15 AMErica Virtue - Senior Gleaner Writer
Nicholson
Nicholson
Senator Kamina Johnson Smith
Senator Kamina Johnson Smith
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A day after Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith named former Senator A.J. Nicholson as the People’s National Party (PNP) official who sent her threatening and harassing emails in 2014 and 2018, Nicholson has called her out, challenging...

A day after Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith named former Senator A.J. Nicholson as the People’s National Party (PNP) official who sent her threatening and harassing emails in 2014 and 2018, Nicholson has called her out, challenging her to “produce the emails or shut up”.

Nicholson told The Sunday Gleaner yesterday that Johnson Smith’s reading of a 2018 email, subject-lined ‘Rape, Real Rape’, had nothing to do with any threats to her, but was a reminder that “karma would catch up with her dishonesty”, asking that she reads the entire contents of the mail she referenced.

“If the senator is speaking truthfully, why not simply release the referenced emails, the source of her claim of harassment and feelings of threat? She says they were sent some three years ago. What is her intention in making this claim at this time?” he asked, hinting at the controversy enveloping Westmoreland Central Member of Parliament George Wright.

“And sadly, it cannot be overlooked that the senator has also in the past been accused of lying in the chamber,” Nicholson said in a statement to The Sunday Gleaner yesterday.

During the sitting of the Senate last Friday, Johnson Smith raised the ghost of a 2014 sotto voce “flexi-rape” comment during a heated debate in the Upper House, for which Nicholson said he apologised, after communication between himself and another senator revealed that Johnson Smith was uncomfortable and displeased.

In calling out the minister yesterday, he said: “I state categorically that no harassment or threatening emails exist from me to the senator or to anyone else. Neither was I warned in 2018 by any member of the [Jamaica] Constabulary Force. It is not true … ,” he wrote.

GROSSLY UNTRUTHFUL

Nicholson recalled the 2014 issue which led to him being visited by the police.

“The senator had taken me to task some seven years ago over a sotto voce remark about flexi rape during a sitting of the Senate. Speaking on public radio that evening, she was grossly untruthful in reporting what I had muttered in the Senate. And she and her colleague reported me to the police when I told another colleague of hers that her time would come, for karma would, in time, take her to task about her ‘barefaced lie’ ... ,” read the statement.

“Nonetheless, I was obliged to tender a full apology since no flippant remark concerning the serious matter of rape should ever be made or can be countenanced,” Nicholson added.

The 2018 email from which Johnson Smith read in the Senate Chamber, according to Nicholson, “was a reminder that he was called out for the comment in 2014, but a deported rape convict was embraced by the leadership of the then Opposition”.

The issue to which he referred was that of a Jamaican pilot who was convicted of sex-related charged in the Middle Eastern country of Qatar although he denied the charges. After serving five years, he was deported.

Nicholson alleged that upon the pilot’s arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport, he was met and welcomed by the leadership of then Opposition.

The former attorney general said no email with the threats outlined by the minister on Friday can be produced.

“The senator speaks of an email entitled ‘Rape, real rape’. I cannot find it no matter how much I have searched on my device, but I have no doubt that I would have sent one such, for that is the very core of my query: How come you had called me out so loudly about flexi rape, and had even lied publicly, but maintained a sepulchral silence when it came to your colleagues brushing aside issues that had to do with real rape?” Nicholson’s statement read.

Nicholson challenged her to provide evidence for the claims she has made.

“Emails, just like the in-house cameras at Gordon House, do not lie, unless tampered with, but they can expose lies and liars. But tongues do lie from time to time. What inference is to be drawn from this refusal or reluctance on her part to allow the public to examine the emails themselves? And even from what she has said in her two recent statements, where does it point to any harassment?” he asked.

He repeated that he has threatened no one.

CONSCIENCE CLEAR

“My conscience is clear. I sleep well at nights and sometimes even in the daytime. I have never been accused of lying and I have no intention of starting now, in these my golden years. Apparently, the foreign minister does not have much work to do,” he charged.

Speaking with The Sunday Gleaner following the release of his statement, Nicholson said he was visited by the police following the flexi-rape comment.

“... A report was made to the police that I was threatening her. I was visited by a senior police officer from the commissioner ranks, but the conclusion was that there was no threat, and the matter was done,” Nicholson explained.

The former minister, who served in the P.J. Patterson and Portia Simpson Miller administrations, said his comment that “your time will come” in one of the emails “ was not a threat of any harm to her, but a reminder that karma had a way of catching up with liars”.

The last line of that email sent August 6, 2018 at 12:51 a.m., a copy of which The Sunday Gleaner has seen, read “Mark my word, just kotch, watch and behold ... KARMA!”

The retired politician said he had no doubt as to the reason for a rehashing the issue.

“I am accusing her of lying from the beginning about flexi rape. It’s all a big lie!” Nicholson told The Sunday Gleaner.

“The party has been embarrassed by the alleged actions of one of its members of parliament who was elected last year. All the women in the party have gone silent on an issue that has impacted so many. All this is a diversion from the shame of that issue,” Nicholson said, pointing to the Wright affair.

Wright had been sought as a person of interest in a matter after a video surfaced showing a man beating a woman. The MP and Tannisha Singh had both made reports to the police surrounding a confrontation in April 6. The video is believed to be from that incident, although the police deemed it inconclusive and have not laid any charges since the parties wanted to drop the matter.

When Johnson Smith raised the issue on April 23 in the Senate, she was bemoaning what she labelled as a “missed opportunity for consensus” on gender-based violence from female parliamentarians.

During the sitting of the Lower House on the Tuesday prior, a statement was read condemning gender-based violence in the wake of the video. However, female senators on the Opposition benches declined to endorse it, stating that it did not go far enough to address the issue.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force did not respond to The Sunday Gleaner’s query on whether a report was made in 2018 about the “threats” to which Johnson Smith alluded.

The minister has said that she would not engage in any further public discourse on the matter.

Nonetheless, she was notified of Nicholson’s remarks yesterday, but did not give a response to The Sunday Gleaner.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com