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Express reporter Anika Gumbs’ full resignation letter after Rowley ‘advances’

The following is a copy of the resignation letter submitted to Trinidad Express Editor-in-Chief Omatie Lyder by reporter Anika Gumbs, which refers to an alleged incidents during meetings with Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley:

Photo: Trinidad Express reporter Anika Gumbs. (Courtesy Stabroek News)
Photo: Trinidad Express reporter Anika Gumbs.
(Courtesy Stabroek News)

Dear Ms Lyder,

I regret to inform you that I hereby tender my resignation with immediate effect. My decision to do so is not an easy task. However, in upholding the highest standards of journalism and to avoid the Express Newspaper from being brought into disrepute, I have opted to sever all ties with the company.

I apologise for the delay of not submitting a written report to you surrounding an incident that occurred in April 2015.

At the time I thought it would have been in my best interest not to do so, however, to avoid my character and reputation from being tarnished I am forced to reiterate the facts of the incident as previously discussed with you.

On April 21, 2015 I was at the St Joseph Police Station where I was in the process of making a report regarding eleven prank calls I received on April 20.

While at the police station I received a telephone call around midday from Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley.

Dr Rowley indicated that he was in possession of some additional information relating to an article I had written and asked that I visit his private residence in west Trinidad since he was not at his office. Upon arriving at the residence I met two men, one of whom asked my name. I was told by one of the men that Dr Rowley was expecting me and I was escorted to the front door.

When I entered the home I was greeted by Dr Rowley whom I was astonished to see was bareback.

Although I though this to be most inappropriate, I was too embarrassed to comment on this given the office that Dr Rowley holds.

Dr Rowley then invited me to sit at his kitchen counter where he made certain written information available to me relating to a news article.

During the conversation about the information, I received a telephone call from the police station from an officer who enquired about the specific times I received the prank calls.

Being privy to the conversation Dr Rowley enquired if something was wrong.

I casually told him about the eleven phone calls I received the previous night.

To my shock and surprise Dr Rowley said: “Would you hire me to be your bodyguard outside your bedroom?”

I did not respond.

Dr Rowley again repeated the question to me.

I again did not respond.

I immediately went numb and blank. I felt completely helpless and confused as if I was being trapped in a situation that I was totally unprepared for.

Although Dr Rowley continued speaking for a while, I was totally disconnected mentally.

Photo: Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley. (Courtesy Jyoti Communication)
Photo: Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley.
(Courtesy Jyoti Communication)

Shortly after Dr Rowley who was bareback walked me out of his home to the front gate and I left in my vehicle.

As you may recall, I first discussed the matter with you on May 5 without naming Dr Rowley.

During that conversation I opted to refer to Dr Rowley as an official.

When asked by you if I told the official that he was inappropriately dressed I admitted to remaining silent because I felt uncomfortable and embarrassed to do so. I also admitted to not immediately leaving the premises.

I also said that while the comment: “Would you hire me to be your bodyguard outside your bedroom?” made me uncomfortable I did not respond and I have explained to you why.

Asked by you if it was the first time I visited the home of the official.

I admitted that I visited his home on April 9 where information relating to the same news article was also given.

On that occasion I said to you that after I collected the information and was walking out of his home the official touched my back and asked if I had a tattoo of a map on it.

I said to you that while I was caught off guard I told the official that my tattoo on my back was not a map but a butterfly.

Additionally, I told you that the official then asked me the meaning of the butterfly tattoo to which I replied: “It’s all a part of being chic.”

When asked by you what I was wearing I replied that it was one of my work dresses that I wore previously to attend our weekly Tuesday meetings.

I also indicated that when the official walked me to the front of his home a bee landed on my dress.

I admitted that the official removed the bee off my dress and said: “Even honey bees landing on you.”

I told you that the entire incident prompted me to shelve all of my work dresses and I explained the recent change in my professional wardrobe and I have opted to wear only pants suits while on duty.

I also indicated to you that in January at the end of an interview at the Port of Spain office of the official he enquired whether I had recently returned from vacation.

I said to you that I told the official that I was on leave to which he replied: “You are looking rosy.”

However, I admitted to you that though the previous remarks by the official made me uncomfortable I dismissed them mentally and continued to communicate with him up until April 21 because of the office he holds.

The matter was again discussed on May 19 where you recommended that I utilise the employee assistance programme by Elder’s and Associates and advised me to meet people only in public places to avoid being harmed.

I attended sessions on May 25, June 2 and 8.

During the period of counselling even though I asked by you to identify the official I opted not to because of the office he holds. I opted to withhold his name from you until recently because of the office Dr Rowley holds.

I also delayed submitting a formal report to you on the matter for that same reason.

However, I have noted your comments during our conversations where you indicated that the situation compromised me because it could be construed that information was being given in exchange for personal relations.

Photo: Trinidad Express editor-in-chief Omatie Lyder.
Photo: Trinidad Express editor-in-chief Omatie Lyder.

It should be noted that in spite of such bizarre developments, I held my ground, remained focused, and achieved my objective and was able to an unknown side of this individual.

The situation in which I found myself, whilst unfortunate, was totally unexpected.

On reflection I now feel unable to communicate with Dr Rowley any longer because he betrayed my trust and expectations.

Over the last 17 years I have conducted my job impartially, without fear or favour, regardless of political parties, sex, or interests involved.

The unfortunate experience has left me mentally scarred and traumatised.

As a woman I felt frightened and disrespected because of the compromising situation I unexpectedly found myself.

I remained shocked that Dr Rowley, a political leader, a husband, a father and grandfather, a man I held in such high regard could have acted in such an inappropriate matter and uttered such suggestive words to me.

Developments over the last 72-hours have caused me great distress to my personal and professional life hence my decision to walk away.

I thank you for your support and ensuring that I received counselling to handle similar unfortunate situations I may encounter in my future endeavours.

Yours respectfully,

Anika Gumbs

 

Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read MATT’s response to Anika Gumbs’ resignation from the Trinidad Express.

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181 comments

  1. Hannibal Najjar

    I am going to go outside the box a little to address the gravity of the situation that we are facing especially in T&T but also, the world over. Our Government and leaders have cheated the nation of what it deserves. We have selfishly provided nothing to show our least but priviledged citizens that we truly care about their simplest of needs. What can our emerging youth claim to have that gives them a sense of hope? All of what the Government has been providing seems to be without consideration of the starting positions of the majority of our overlooked but surging young population. If we put something into place that does not feature our young populations’ states of affairs and surrounding environments, and thence create a vision for them in conjunction with one for our nation at large, we would then better understand the flexible, needed working plan that would take us to that vision. If we do not operate with this mindset, we would looking from, outside the box, to inside the box….. it would be the death of a nation!

  2. There are many issues with Ms. Gumbs’ story, requiring further information. However, Dr. Rowley needs to answer certain questions as well, such as:
    1. Did you invite the reporter to your home on the date in question?
    2. Did you greet her bareback?
    3. Do you think that that was the proper attire for a professional meeting?
    4. Do you usually have meetings bareback?
    5. Did Ken Gordon entertain his meeting with you at his home bareback?
    6. If he did, would you have considered it appropriate?

    Reasonably speaking, it is not good enough to say that it is the PP ‘who doin it’. Dr. Rowley should state whether he did conduct a meeting with Ms. Gumbs bareback and whether he volunteered to be a security guard at her bedroom’s door, and if he considers that comment appropriate.
    If he denies it, well it is over to Ms. Gumbs.
    Mr. Al-Rawi has daughters, would he consider it appropriate for someone to conduct a meeting with one of his daughters in the manner Dr. Rowley allegedly did?

  3. the apparent dishonesty involved in this episode ,the lady is just being used by the politicians and will be discarded when her usefulness is over

  4. Hmmm d love of MONEY… Lord put a hand! Be humble!

  5. serious doubts have been raised by the goodly lady story,i am glad that social media ,has ventilated these concerns,the pattern has been established each a different headline on the pnm leader,the get rowley before he gets you ,is the theme of the campaign,and it has backfired ,questions are now being asked about the young lady’s mental capacity,is there a previous undiagnosed medical condition,and she has been subjected to some form of blackmail,papa smurf is capable of doing any thing to advance his cause ,there is a screw missing some where,i remember when she was chastised even her spending patterns was brought in to focus,we need to dig deeper into this.