Political Ombudsman wants 'offensive' adverts scrapped
By Lavern Clarke, Staff Reporter
Tuesday, October 8, 2002
POLITICAL OMBUDSMAN Bishop Herro Blair has strongly recommended the withdrawal of three political advertisements being aired on local television, including a five-minute production that was aired for the first time Sunday night.
Two of the advertisements which the Ombudsman found offensive, 'West Kingston Story' and 'Tom drunk but Tom nuh fool', were sponsored by the People's National Party (PNP), while the third, 'I did it my way', was paid for by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
Last night, PNP General Secretary, Maxine Henry-Wilson, said the party would be complying immediately with the request, but would be seeking a meeting with Bishop Blair to get the specifics of what he objects to in the ads.
"We would have to find out what is the objection, but as of now we are withdrawing based on his request," said the PNP official.
Mrs. Henry-Wilson said it was a possibility that the amended ads would run again after those consultations.
The Gleaner, however, was unable to secure comment from the JLP on whether it would also adhere to the Ombudsman's request. Deputy Leader Babsy Grange said the ad was really placed by the party's affiliate, Generation 2000, and referred The Gleaner to Dr. David Panton, noting that it was for them to decide. Dr. Panton's telephone was turned off and his mailbox full. Ken Baugh said he had not seen the correspondence, and could not comment.
The West Kingston Story, which is about five minutes long, centred on violent happenings in that section of Kingston, including the July 7-10 stand-off between gunmen and the security forces last year. The constituency is represented by Opposition Leader Edward Seaga.
The other PNP advertisement which says Seaga refers to Jamaicans as black scandal bag, "I believe has breached the Code," the Ombudsman said, adding, however, that it was within the PNP's right to redo it.
Bishop Blair said he wrote to the PNP and JLP general secretaries on Monday. Speaking later at a press conference at the Election Centre, he said the political campaign had gone in the unfortunate direction of character assassinations, and further that the advertisements breached Appendix 4 of the Political Code of Conduct of June 2002.
The section, which speaks to 'public utterances', notes that party officials should not make statements that are: inflammatory or likely to incite violence; constitute slander or libel; or are malicious in reference to their opponents, their families and party officials.