Threats force Deane to withdraw

This, Prime Minister Patrick Manning disclosed last evening as he again knocked the Opposition for attempting to derail the inquiry with adamant calls for Deane to be removed as the commission’s chairman.

“Now the recipient (Deane) has been the subject of threatening telephone calls,” Manning said at a PNM Pointe-a-Pierre constituency conference at the Petrotrin Sports Club last evening.

Deane was named as head of the commission when it was announced on Friday in the House of Representatives by Manning, but since then critics have questioned Deane’s impartiality in light of the Integrity Commission’s previous failure to give a fair hearing to former Planning Minister Dr Keith Rowley when probed over the tendering for the Customs Building. Deane was the chairman of the Integrity Commission at that time.

Opposition Chief Whip Ramesh Maharaj had threatened to seek judicial review of Deane’s appointment to head the commission of inquiry.

Manning said the Opposition had first demanded that a commission of inquiry be held instead of hearings of a joint select committee of Parliament and now that he had agreed to their request, they opposed Deane’s appointment as the chairman. He reminded PNM supporters that Deane had been kidnapped a year ago and in light of the threats against him he is “now forced to withdraw”.

Manning said he had not yet appointed a new chairman and he may have to consider selecting a foreigner to head the commission.

Earlier yesterday, Deane, refused to comment on the mounting opposition to his appointment. He told Newsday: “I have no comment on it at all at this time.” When asked if he has accepted the appointment, Deane retorted: “What don’t you understand about no comment?”

Deane had to jump out of a speeding van to escape from kidnappers who snatched him from his Toco estate on September 8, 2007.

Police detained three suspects, who escaped with Deane’s van, after setting up a roadblock on the Toco Main Road.

Deane received minor surgery after he dislocated a shoulder after escaping from the van.

A police report said that Deane was carrying out repairs on his Timber Estate, Angles Road, Cumana beach house when three men stormed the premises and announced a hold-up.

Police said Deane was robbed at gunpoint of valuables of an undisclosed value. The kidnappers bundled Deane into his pickup van and sped off. But there was a struggle and Deane, who once served as managing director of American Life and General Insurance Co, jumped from the van, dislocating a shoulder when he hit the ground. He safely made his way to the Toco Police Station.


"Threats force Deane to withdraw"

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