09 May, 2009


I receive my first ever warning from the police. There is a popular remedy or relief available to any person in Anguilla who has a complaint against someone else. You make a report at the police station of your concern, perhaps that a crime has been, or is about to be, committed. If you do not want the person prosecuted, you ask the police merely to visit the accused and warn him not to repeat his conduct. It is a simple-to-use procedure. The police love it. It requires no police investigation. It can be carried out quite quickly. It probably is a very useful process in preventing the commission of more serious crimes.

So, what was my alleged crime? The warning was to the effect that Lolita Richardson had made a formal complaint at the Police Station. She had complained that I had slandered her name on the Elkin Richardson radio show, “To the Point”. I was warned. I thanked the police officer who delivered the warning to me.

And, to think that I was under the impression that what I said on the radio programme was meant to preserve her name. This is my recollection of what happened.

On the Friday, Elkin had called me on the telephone. He had told me that he had obtained a copy of the proposed new constitution for Anguilla. I have previously written about how anxiously we in Anguilla were awaiting our first viewing of this document. See the links below.

Regular readers of this Blog will recall the sequence of events. In the period January to August 2006, the Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission had worked with the Anguillian public on preparing recommendations for the reform of the Constitution of Anguilla. In August 2006, the Commission had published its Report. Subsequently, the Chief Minister had established a Chief Minister’s Committee. This had spent several months reviewing and discussing the Report. After much discussion, the Committee had come up with a number of amendments of its own. They had then decided that they would prefer to see in print what the finished product of what they had approved would look like. A written draft of the proposed new Constitution would make it easier to discuss the recommendations with the public. They would have something in their hands that they could refer to.

The Chief Minister had consequently given Lolita Richardson her instructions. She was to prepare a draft Constitution. It was intended for circulation to the public and for general discussion. She was to incorporate in the draft (a) the recommendations of the Commission, together with (b) such amendments as the Chief Minister’s Committee had approved. The main amendment that the Chief Minister’s Committee had come up with was that Anguilla should go for “full internal self-government”. Most of the other amendments were relatively minor.

Mrs Richardson had proceeded to prepare an initial draft constitution. This draft had been further reviewed by the Chief Minister’s Committee for several more months. No member of the public saw a copy of it during the several months it was under discussion. The Committee, we must assume, had made a number of further amendments to Mrs Richardson’s draft. Eventually, as we understood it, Mrs Richardson had incorporated the corrections. She had delivered a finished product to the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister had called a press conference. He had with much fanfare officially handed it over to the Attorney-General. The A-G’s instructions were to publish the draft to the public for discussion.

Since the hand-over some months ago, we have been waiting for the promised publication. To this day, you cannot obtain a copy of the draft that was handed to the A-G. It must be some sort of State secret. So, I was excited about the opportunity I was being offered to see it. Elkin asked me if I could study it and appear on his show on the following Monday and give my views on it. I was happy to agree. [This call-in radio programme on the radio station Kool FM takes place every Monday evening at 7:30 pm, approximately. There are often interesting speakers on the programme. You should tune in. The link above even permits live streaming to anywhere in the world].

I collected the document from Elkin. He told me he had got it from an official source. He had been assured that it was the final draft that the A-G was supposed to publish to the public. I read it as promised. I compared its contents paragraph by paragraph with the 2006 Report of the Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission. On the following Monday evening, I turned up at the radio station. That Monday evening, I duly gave the listening public my impressions about the document. As I recall, they were, and are, principally these:

1. The draft was very disappointing in that it contained less than half of the recommendations made by the Commission and accepted by the Chief Minister’s Committee.

2. The draft was objectionable in that it included the exact opposite of some of the recommendations made by the Commission and approved by the Committee.

3. The draft could not be a final draft. It was filled with so many typing errors, grammatical mistakes, and contradictions, that it must be a very early, uncorrected draft. It could not be the finished draft. The document appeared to be really a very amateurish effort. I do not believe that Mrs Richardson would have permitted such a rough draft to be submitted to the A-G’s Chambers as a finished product. Another reason why the document I was shown could not be a finished product was that the initial draft had gone through month after month of discussions among the Chief Minister’s Committee. This Committee had included some of the most powerful and some of the most highly educated government officers in Anguilla. They would have noticed the obvious typing errors, and corrected them before the document was handed over to the A-G. All this I explained on the radio programme.

Now, tell me what was so objectionable in what I said!

Elkin tells me that he received a similar warning from the police as the one I got. His theory for this bizarre incident is that Mrs Richardson could not have heard the radio show herself. She must have missed listening to it, and relied on a skewed account of it given to her by some mischief-maker.

I accept that as a possibility. I forgive Mrs Richardson. But, she should know by now not to believe everything she is told in Anguilla.

Related Blogs:

New Constitution: 18 April 2009

Constitutions: 18 December 2008

Constitution: 2 December 2008

Shallowness: 7 June 2008

Big Chief: 29 May 2008

Checks & Balances: 28 May 2008

Garden Path: 26 May 2008

Open Mic: 24 May 2008


  1. Mr. Mitchell, would it be defamatory were I to express my opinion that this woman's conduct has been childish and unprofessional, and that her sending the police to your door only confirms my belief?

  2. Is this the best our Ministers can do, to choose this annoying and embarrassing woman as a constitutional advisor?

  3. It takes a village to raise a village idiot.

  4. Seems to me that Elkin should not believe everything we are told, and that goes for anywhere, not just in Anguilla. I believe that the proper way to handle this was...

    1) review document

    2) conclude that it's not the real deal

    3) don't do radio show. What's the point of commenting on a non-document?

    As always Don, I do believe you provide a valuable function, keeping those who run Anguilla accountable. This blog could be much more valuable with more rigor and without pointless, but somehow disturbing, posts such as these.

    You tied Mrs. Richardson's name to a bad (bogus?) document. You did it in a clever way, by saying "there's no way she would have permitted such a rough draft to be submitted."

    Where's the possible win here for her again? If that's your defense of her, I'd hate to hear your offense! ;-)

    Just don't comment on a bogus document. Heck, I could have typed that up and sent it to Elkin "anonymously." Verify facts first, both of you.


  5. The last comment by DonWatcher is devious and insidious and it seems to me that malice shines through every line.

    It seems clear the document in question was neither “bogus” nor “bad” as he suggests. That is to completely exonerate Lolita from publishing a document filled in effect, as Don writes, with bad syntax. It was given to Don as Lolita’s draft, and he had no reason to question that. He seems satisfied it was Lolita’s draft and he has not even suggested it might not be her draft. It seems clear to me that he was satisfied it was a draft produced by Lolita. It takes a convoluted mind to suggest that someone else might have drafted an entire bogus Constitution just to confuse him into thinking it was drafted by Lolita. That is not realistic, it is not even a possibility.

    The only question for me is, which draft? It was given to Don as Lolita’s “final” draft and I understand that to mean a “corrected” or “finished” draft. That is what Don says he understood as well, but what he discovered from the exegesis he conducted was that it was so poorly put together it must have been an “early” draft. It was the very careless way it was prepared that gave it away as an early draft. Now, while it is normal for someone to make slips and errors in a first draft, it is only if the slips and errors persist into the final draft that the draftsman is to be criticized. I understand that to be the point he was making in her defence. If that is the method he used to conclude that it was not her “final” draft, then he was right to say so.

    There is nothing pointless or disturbing in telling his readers what happened to him when he commented on one of Lolita’s drafts of Anguilla’s new Constitution. The police arriving in force on your doorstep with a formal warning is a matter of very public interest.

    Until we see the draft given to the Attorney General, we have no way of knowing the document he was shown was not in fact Lolita’s final draft, as indeed it may well have been.

    DonWatcher is one of those Anguillian types we know so well who love cover-up and shrug the shoulder and wink the eye at all kinds of public carelessness and sloppiness. Speak no evil of the dead, and certainly not of the living. Everyone is related to everyone else.

    Finally, don’t we all love this “small-island” bickering and sniping? It keeps us off the big issues and fixated on trivia. Ad hominem rules OK.

  6. Just to clarify one point. The police did not "arrive in force" on my doorstep. It was a very polite and civilised telephone call. There was no suggestion of a threat.

  7. A friend of mine made an "all so true" comment this morning during a conversation about the RAPF.
    It involves the unfortunate diving accident at the cove.

    The jist of conversation was RAPF = inept.

    - Scotty

  8. Many in our neighborhood have made complaints to the police about cows eating our trees and plants. When the police ask us if we know who owns the cows and we tell them, we are then advised to call the owner ourselves.
    No friendly "warning" to the owner, no visit, no action. The cows continue to roam and damage our efforts.

  9. To the person who called "DonWatcher" insidious:

    Sorry, DonWatcher makes good sense. This document was provided to Don with the following credentials, in Don's words:

    "I collected the document from Elkin. He told me he had got it from an official source. He had been assured that it was the final draft that the A-G was supposed to publish to the public."

    That is a definitive declaration of the nature of this document. Don concluded that the document was NOT a "Final." Is there any reason to conclude that it is any other version? No.

    DonWatcher said the best course of action was:

    "1) review document

    2) conclude that it's not the real deal

    3) don't do radio show. What's the point of commenting on a non-document?"

    I agree. Once you conclude that the document is not what was claimed, its credibility, and that of the source, is called completely into doubt.

    Any good journalist or judge would conclude the same. We are all arguing about a non-document, indeed.

    And is a dissenting voice always going to be "insidious" and "shining with malice" in this group?

    If it is, then we have descended to the level of the government, where even valid dissent is besmirched.

  10. Wsan't calling the police an attempt to suppress free speech and fair comment on the so-called draft Constitution? If that is the sort of conduct we can expoct from the draftsman of the proposed new Constitution, what confidence can we have that it will confer the freedoms a constitution is intended to safeguard?

  11. "To Anonymous at 12:43 PM

    You have it the wrong way around. Freedom of speech is such a precious right, that it should be used responsibly and carefully.

    One of the most hurtful experiences is for someone to make untruthful statements about you or to utter 'fighting words" to your face. Referring this matter to the police is the responsible thing to do. As a matter of fact it should be given wide publicity, so that other persons know that the remedy is available and you do not have to "throw a shoe' at those making malicious and untruthful statements about you on radio or elsewhere.

    The following week, it was a false alarm about a plane with 150 Mexicans coming to Anguilla, and a call to demonstrate against the Government for this non-existent plane with non-existent Mexicans..

    What useful purpose does this serve? Radio talk shows especially those which begin with a prayer and end with a hymn by Jim Reeves, should be more productive.

    God Bless Anguilla.

  12. I agree that The Elkin Show too often promotes stupidness. Hubert had similar things to say about "Talk Your Mind." He was wrong, and after horrendous expenses that you and I paid for, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council concluded in the matter of John Benjamin vs. The Minister of Information & Broadcasting

    “that freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society and one of the basic conditions for its progress and for each individual’s self-fulfilment. It is applicable not only to ‘information’ or ‘ideas’ that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb. Such are the demands of that pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no ‘democratic society’”.

  13. Those who want to curtail our freedom of express always justify it by claiming we must be "responsible."

    What the Privy Council said, in effect, was that if Hubert wants to make a fool of himself spreading rumours about a planeload of Mexicans infected with swine flu being brought here by an evil Chief Minister who hates Anguillians, he has the right to do so, and I have the right to call in and say what I think about Hubert's stupidness. And this is the foundation of a democratic society, not Lolita's childish attempt to control what others may say.

    Were I not concerned that it might be libellous, I would add that this woman is, in my opinion, a whack job.

    And this is the person who's revised our draft constitution? Hello?

  14. Anonymous at 3.05 on 10th May makes two things plain:

    (a) He makes it plain that he is incapable of critical analysis - there was nothing offensive in what IDM said;, merely fair comment on a draft Constitution which, if it was really the correct draft (and IDM generously gave Lolita the benefit of the doubt), should, by all accounts, be condemned publicly by all the media AND BY THE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES THAT COMMISSIONED IT as grossly incompetent.

    (b) He is on the side of those who want to deprive the Anguillian public of the protection that the freedom to criticise Government and persons stooging for Government provides, however egregious their incompetence, on the grounds that such criticism is "hurtful". If this is how he interprets the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the constitution, heaven help Anguilla if he is someone in a position of influence, as one can only suspect from the case he so feebly attempts to make.

  15. I want to ask a simple question. Why did Ms. Richardson not first come to you for your explanation BEFORE going to the police.

  16. The simple answer is that the fun and enjoyment the complainer receives in making a complaint to the police station, and asking for a warning to be delivered, is the knowledge that the person accused will suffer great embarrassment and wounded pride. All this without the minor inconvenience of having to prove that person did anything wrong! And, especially satisfying if the police visit the accused's home or office when there are other persons around to witness the warning being delivered.

    Why spoil the game by approaching your victim first, and risk having a reasonable explanation given.

    In my case, the warning was delivered by telephone, so the complainer did not get this satisfaction.


  17. IDM has it right! It is a good ole Anguillian game. Childish, yes. One day, we will grow up, hopefully.

  18. If I saw the police at your door, I would be thinking "old Don must have rattled someone's cage-again". Keep up the good fight.

  19. In a banana republic, the power and authority of government is used to silence political dissent. In most cases, they try to justify this by claiming that what the person said was "hurtful" or disloyal or an insult to the state or something similar. Hubert's excuse in the Talk Your Mind case was that callers were "talking nonsense."

    Two aspects of the present matter disturb me. First, this is Anguilla, which our leaders loudly proclaim to be a democratic society. And second, that these same leaders have chosen this woman to draft our proposed Constitution.


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