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Aug 5, 2008

Courtenay responds to allegations about British diplomat

Story PictureNews Five broke the story two months ago that the British High Commissioner John Yapp had ended his mission to Belize prematurely because of inappropriate behaviour. But in the past weeks, the issue has taken a life of its own, with articles appearing in London’s Sunday Mail. A first article in the Mail reported that Yapp had been recalled for inappropriate behaviour towards two Belizean women, one of them very high ranking. In the last article, the Mail reports that the British diplomat was recalled due to an official complaint by a totally different source. It is a strong allegation made of the former Foreign Minister, Eamon Courtenay and his wife Denise, one that prompted reaction from the Courtenays who are out of the country but spoke to News Five by telephone today.

Eamon Courtenay, Former Foreign Minister
“My understanding is that there was a complaint or complaints made by different people about Mr. Yapp and as a result of that Ambassador Gifford from the British was appointed to do some investigation into those complaints. The British contacted me to ask me whether I would be prepared to meet with Ambassador Gifford when he came to Belize and I said yes and I met with him. That was not as a result of any complaint that my wife had made, cause she had in fact NOT made any such complaints. And therefore, when he came to Belize he and I met. We met for approximately an hour and I responded to questions which he asked about things that they had heard and he asked me my opinions and what I had known about different things. That interview, that discussion with Ambassador Gifford was wide-ranging and dealt with a series of matters, including issues relating to United Kingdom and Belize, relating to High Commissioner Yapp and to other matters.”

Marion Ali
“So as far as you and your wife are concerned Mr. Yapp never behaved inappropriately towards her?”

Eamon Courtenay
“I am not prepared at this time, Marion, to discuss anything about the details of the discussion that I had with Ambassador Gifford and anything in relation to Mr. Yapp or anyone else. What I am prepared to say to you is that what appeared in the Mail on Sunday is untrue. My personal views and opinions bout Mr. Yapp was requested from me by the British as a part of an official investigation and I will not, at this time, make public what it is I told them.”

Marion Ali
“I’m not asking you to tell me what you told them. I’m asking you now what are your opinions of him?”

Eamon Courtenay
“Marion, I think it would be unfair for me at this stage to say what I think of High Commissioner Yapp. I’m not going to get into any personal name calling and things like that back and forth. It will be the same thing like what the Mail on Sunday has done to the public and to I. I’m not prepared to do that.”

Marion Ali
“My question to you was just whether you had anything personal or otherwise or professional against him. I was just asking that of my own accord.”

Eamon Courtenay
“Mr. Yapp is a person who I came to meet in the context of my work as Minister of Foreign Affairs. I met him in that context and then I met him socially again in relation to foreign affairs work as such came under that government, I continued to meet him from time to time. I have heard things about him and I know that an investigation is ongoing. The result of that is none of my business nor do I care, quite frankly, what happens to Mr Yapp in that regard.”

Marion Ali
“Okay, but Mr Courtenay, what would lead one to target you and your wife? Why the Courtenays? Since there have been many reports against Mr. Yapp and other young ladies, why target the Courtenays? Can you offer any kind of a logic to that?”

Eamon Courtenay
“Well, I think you have put your finger on one of the most interesting aspects of this whole thing. I have to try myself to get to the bottom of this. As you know, I have been out of the country for more than two weeks now. I’m not gonna go find out but the Mail on Sunday was obviously fed information by whoever wanted to feed them that information. I can assure you that that information is false and whoever gave that information to the Mail on Sunday obviously had an objective in mind and an axe to grind with me and my wife.”


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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