By Martina Johnson
New information coming out about the probe involving MP Asot Michael who was arrested in the U.K. this week, is that the local police are also following the matter.
That’s according to Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who told OBSERVER media exclusively that he was briefed orally, and he immediately requested that the law enforcement in the U.K. send the information in writing to Antigua and Barbuda’s High Commissioner to London, Karen Mae-Hill.
“I was told by the high commissioner that he was actually arrested on a serious issue…we were told it was not a frivolous arrest, that it was a serious matter, that the international police, INTERPOL and the metropolitan police [were] actually following. And, I also understand that it included the local police as well. And, as a result of certain information they would have gathered, that is what led to this action,” Browne revealed.
He said that he was told this, and he asked to get it all in writing, and a document will be forthcoming.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) agreed on the wording of the statement which was sent out by Patrick Reilly, the head of the Central America and Mexico Department. The document explained why NCA officials took Michael into custody.
“I am aware. I and the one who requested the high commissioner to get what they told her verbally in writing. This was done after I received information and took the necessary action to relieve minister Michael, or former minister for that matter, Michael of his ministerial position,” he said.
He added, “My understanding is that former minister Michael was arrested for conspiracy to bribe. My understanding is that the bribe action may not have taken place and this is what I have been told – conspiracy to bribe involving a U.K. national.”
The country’s leader stripped Michael of his tourism, investment, economic development and energy portfolios on Monday, pending the outcome of the arrest.
The prime minister said that he is currently acting in those capacities until further notice, while he said he will not put any limit on the length of time Michael will remain without a Cabinet appointment.
Browne said that he is yet to talk to the embattled MP who issued a press statement on Wednesday, indicating that he (Michael) was told his arrest is something “that this is often done when persons are travelling and not expected to remain in the United Kingdom.”
Yesterday, Michael issued a second press statement, repeating those words, while claiming that OBSERVER media falsely reported that he suggested in that press release that his detention was routine.