WITH claims of sexual harassment levelled against him by a former employee, and allegations of a cover-up, Diego Martin Central MP Darryl Smith has lost the support of some of his constituents.
Smith has been embroiled in controversy over the dismissal and payment of $150,000 to his former personal assistant, Carrie-Ann Moreau, who alleged she had been sexually harassed by the former minister of Sport and Youth Affairs.
The Sunday Express visited the constituency yesterday and spoke with residents, most of whom said they would not cast their votes in favour of the People’s National Movement (PNM) come next year’s general election should Smith be retained as the candidate for the area.
At Geridot Drive in Diamond Vale, a resident who gave his name only as “Rick” felt the allegations had left a stain on Smith’s image.
He said Smith has also failed in his performance as an MP.
“Even without the sexual harassment matter, Darryl Smith has done nothing for us,” he said.
“He is the worst we have ever had. I am not voting for him again. The only time you see them is around election time, and then you don’t see them again.”
‘Step down until cleared’
At Onyx Drive, resident Gerald Augustus said the allegations were serious enough to be of concern.
“If he did what he is being accused of, then he is totally wrong and he should be out. They should change him as the candidate.”
Over at Simeon Road, taxi-driver Akil Harris stressed that a person should be considered innocent until proven guilty.
But he maintained Smith should do the “right thing” and step down.
“That is a serious thing and I think he should step down as MP until a full investigation is done. If he is found innocent then fine, he will get back full support, but it really is not looking good right now and people looking at him funny.”
Harris said the report of the committee appointed to investigate the matter should be made public.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi have said the report will not be made public based on legal advice that determined the report was “defective in so far as natural justice is concerned”.
The AG said Smith was not given the full opportunity to answer allegations and adverse inferences that were put in the report.
“People want to know what the report said and why they hiding it up,” said Harris. “It making him look guilty.”
‘Can’t get my vote again’
Another taxi-driver, Luke Prescott, said Smith should not be in any position of power until the matter is properly investigated and he has been cleared of any alleged wrongdoing.
Prescott too said he would not vote for Smith again, not based on the allegations but on his performance as an MP.
“He can’t get my vote again. He has done nothing for us for the past four years. Simple things like drainage and fixing the roads we can’t get.”
Vendor Clavy Pierre was a little more sympathetic, saying while he was not a supporter of Smith, people make mistakes.
“Nobody is perfect. We are all human and we all make mistakes,” Pierre said.
“I don’t want to cry him down because it might have other people he helped, but me, personally, he hasn’t done anything to benefit me. You can’t ask me anything about Darryl Smith because I don’t know who Darryl Smith is. We don’t ever see him.”
Asked if he would vote for Smith in next year’s general election, Pierre said no.
“Better they give somebody else a chance.”
Akim King told the Sunday Express he felt Smith should not be selected as the candidate for Diego Martin Central in the next election.
However, he said he believed Smith would win if he were selected.
“It is not going to affect the PNM. People still have faith in the PNM and there is no other option but the PNM. Because we cannot put back the UNC. I believe he should not go back, but it wouldn’t affect the PNM either way.”
‘Leave him alone’
Several other residents told the Sunday Express the scandal was “embarrassing” and they would no longer be supporting Smith.
“It is one scandal to the next,” said resident Roger Noel.
“First, you have this situation with Marlene (McDonald) and now, Darryl Smith. It is high-class foolishness. I can’t support that. We don’t know the full story, but from what I have seen so far, something is fishy. Something went on and we need to get the full details.”
Smith however had support in one resident who gave his name as “Brian”.
“He is human. To err is to be human,” he said.
“Look how many politicians did things and get away scot-free. People want to dig a grave for Darryl Smith, but they don’t realise they are digging a grave for themselves. Everybody looking at him as if he is guilty, but what if he is innocent? I think he has been a good MP and he represented us well.”
Another resident who gave his name as “Junior” said the allegations against Smith, even if true, should not end his political career.
“Look at Watson Duke,” he said.
“Watson Duke going up for Tobago and look how much things he has going on. He has a court case for (alleged) rape and he is running for office. Leave Darryl alone.”
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Darryl Smith won the Diego Martin Central seat by a landslide in the 2015 general election, claiming a whopping 77 per cent of all votes cast.
According to Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) records, a total of 17,214 valid votes were cast in the constituency, with Smith, the PNM candidate, copping 13,258 votes.
The former People’s Partnership candidate, Embau Moheni, came in a distant second with 2,969 votes (17 per cent).
The New National Vision (NNV) received 586 (3.4 per cent) votes while the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) got just 401 (2.3 per cent) votes.