As her majesty yesterday ended a three-day state visit to this country, Gopeesingh yesterday told Sunday Newsday that Alleyne met with him two weeks ago to interview him on the issue after the Office of the Queen’s Private Secretary wrote him months prior, informing Gopeesingh that Alleyne had been appointed.
“The Queen’s personal secretary wrote me and informed me that the Chancellor of the university, Sir George Alleyne, was appointed to investigate the matter and make a determination on it,” Gopeesingh said. “He met me recently indicating that his attorneys are looking at it and he indicated he will communicate with my attorneys pretty shortly,” the UNC Chaguanas East MP said.
The University College of the West Indies was established by Royal Charter approved by the Privy Council in 1948. Another Royal Charter, establishing the modern University of the West Indies as a degree-conferring University, was passed under the Great Seal of the Realm in 1962. But notwithstanding this, university rules or any changes to them, according to Gopeesingh, must be in conformance with the Royal Charter and must, therefore, be approved by Her Majesty’s Office.
Before being elected as the Caroni East MP in 2007, Gopeesingh, a practicing gynaecologist, lectured as a senior lecturer (associate professor level) in obstetrics and gynaecology. However, he was not allowed to continue in the post because he became an elected MP, a post which bars the person from taking up UWI posts under university rules entrenched by Royal Charter.
In Parliament in October last year, Tertiary Education Minister Christine Kangaloo revealed that Gopeesingh had written to Queen Elizabeth II, to keep his job. Gopeesingh yesterday said he had written Kangaloo’s ministry on the issue. In October, Kangaloo did not disclose whether she got her information in the course of an application Gopeesingh had lodged to her ministry.
“This is a test case; the first of its kind for UWI and possibly the Commonwealth,” Gopeesingh said. “I had to demit my post since I was an elected MP, but other elected members of Parliament still continue in their professions. Why should I have had to resign just because I was in the Opposition when other MPs are allowed to continue their work? Opposition MPs do not get salaries, we get stipends.”
At a banquet in her honour at President’s House on Thursday evening, the Queen praised UWI, calling it, “a centre of academic excellence, providing a benchmark for educational institutions throughout the Commonwealth.” Gopeesingh was among several Opposition MPs who attended Thursday’s banquet hosted by President George Maxwell Richards.
Asked yesterday if he met the Queen or sought an audience with her, Gopeesingh said, “No, no I was there but I did not.”