PNP pressure

THE People’s National Party (PNP) finds itself in a pickle today as senior party members are reportedly at odds over its response to the allegations brought against its general secretary, Dr Dayton Campbell.

Reports reaching the Jamaica Observer indicate that members of the party’s executive were unable to arrive at a consensus yesterday as to how to respond to the damning allegations made against Campbell by party activist Karen Cross in defence of the defamation suit filed against her.

Officers of the party are scheduled to meet this morning to further discuss the matter.

Cross’s response in the Supreme Court includes signed statements, allegedly witnessed by justices of the peace, from three women making allegations of sexual misconduct against Campbell while they were minors.

Sources said PNP officers yesterday struggled to determine how to respond to the allegations against the man who conducts the day-to-day operations of the party, even as he continued to strenuously deny any wrongdoing.

“There were some who were convinced that an emergency officers’ meeting was needed to craft a response, while others argued that there was no need for an emergency meeting as this was just a contrived plot by some who never wanted to see him as general secretary or to see Mark Golding as party leader,” a PNP source told the Observer.

“There was also no consensus on whether the gen sec (general secretary) should resign, take a leave of absence, or tough it out, although it was clear that the majority had serious questions about the allegations and the source from whence they came,” added the source, a senior PNP official.

Up to press time yesterday the PNP had not responded to the allegations, but Campbell and his attorneys issued mid-afternoon statements strongly denying the allegations and vowing to defend his reputation.

Last month Campbell filed a defamation suit against Cross after she posted damaging allegations against him on social media in March.

Campbell revealed that he had filed the suit in the Supreme Court after the police issued a statement that they had concluded their probe into the allegations and had found no evidence to substantiate them.

But in an explosive defence filed in the Supreme Court on May 13, Cross provided statements from the three women, witnessed by justices of the peace, which she argued justified her comments.

According to Cross, while she did cause a letter with the allegations to be sent to executive members of the PNP, “it is strenuously denied that the imputations contained in the said letter were defamatory as they were true or not materially different from the truth and/or consisted of fair comment”.

But, even as the PNP vacillated about its response, pressure has started to mount on Campbell from civil society groups.

Among those entering the fray was the anti-corruption group National Integrity Action (NIA), which called on the police to reopen their investigation against Campbell.

“In the light of three persons having come forward and filed statements in the Supreme Court alleging being victims of sexual misconduct perpetrated by PNP general secretary, Dayton Campbell, the NIA calls on the JCF to reopen the case promptly and to interview these individuals as soon as possible.

“[The] NIA also calls on Dr Campbell to step aside from his position as general secretary of the PNP until these investigations are completed. Failing this, the PNP leadership should request, at the minimum, that he take leave of absence from his position,” said the entity.

The NIA added: “The party which forms Jamaica’s parliamentary opposition as well as the party which forms the Government are to that extent ‘public bodies’. Each has a special obligation to uphold standards of conduct and behaviour which would arrest declining public confidence in these institutions and rebuild trust in Jamaica’s governance.

“This is particularly the case in matters alleging gender-based violence and sexual abuse of minors,” said the NIA.

A recently launched coalition of concerned women, men, gender and civil society organisations also issued a call for Campbell to step aside while investigations into the allegations are conducted.

The coalition noted that the allegations against Campbell came on the heels of allegations that Government Member of Parliament George Wright was the man seen battering a woman in a video which has since gone viral.

“These allegations cast a troubling shadow on the integrity and moral fibre of political leadership in Jamaica. They serve to undermine the authority and moral fortitude of the institutions that both Mr Wright and Dr Campbell represent,” said the group.

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