Did Blogs Prevent A Cover-Up… Or Is That Idea Absurd?
My friends, on Tuesday, August 14, 2007, veteran journalist Roy Morris was charged with rape by the Royal Barbados Police Force. He was released on bail after appearing in court.
This article is not about Roy’s guilt or innocence, or about the specifics of the criminal allegations. This article is about whether or not Bajan blogs impacted the decision of the police and the prosecutors to bring formal charges against a well known and influential journalist.
During the past four weeks everyone heard the rumours – whether from a friend at work, at the local rum shop, online at various Bajan blogs and chat sites or while on the ZR after school. Now, after four weeks of uncertainty and rumours Mr. Morris has been charged and he will face his accuser in court.
Would Mr. Morris have been charged at all if various Barbados blogs hadn’t carried the story?
Here are some of our thoughts at BFP, then we’d like to hear your opinions in the comments section.
First, what currently appears online in the Barbados media…
Editor Charged With Rape
Editor Roy Morris has appeared in court charged with rape.
District B Magistrate, Robert Simmons has released him on 10 thousand dollars bail with one surety.
Morris was made to surrender his passport and told to report to the District B Police Station every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
He was represented by attorney-at-law Ralph Thorne and will return to court on November 1.
… from the CBC (link here)
Former Nation Editor Charged With Rape
FORMER Editor of the Nation Publishing Company, Roy Morris, was charged with one count of rape.
He was placed on $10 000 bail with one surety. Morris was required to surrender all travel documents and has to report to District B Police station every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
He will return to court on November 1. Morris appeared before Magistrate Robert Simmons at the District B Magistrates Court.
… from The Barbados Advocate (link here)
UPDATED: Adding Nation News…
Journalist On Sex Charge
ROY MORRIS, managing editor of The Nation Publishing Company, appeared before the District “B” Boarded Hall Magistrates’ Court yesterday on a charge of rape.
Morris, of Warrens Park, St Thomas, was not required to plead to having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old female.
There was no objection to bail and Magistrate Robert Simmons released him on a surety of $10 000, ordered him to turn in his passport, and to report to the nearest police station thrice weekly – Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
The matter was adjourned until November 1.
… from The Nation News (link here)
How The Story Broke…
On Monday, July 23, 2007, sources within the Nation News contacted Barbados Free Press and informed us that Associate Managing Editor Roy Morris had been asked for his resignation after an alleged sexual impropriety with a female several days earlier. We were also informed us that Mr. Morris was nowhere to be found and that the entire matter was being hushed up by both the Nation News and the Royal Barbados Police Force. We were told that Anne Gittens loaned her car to Morris to help him avoid the police during the first few days.
We were told that the management at The Nation News sent journalist Timothy Slinger to camp out on the doorstep of Police Commissioner Dottin to call in a favour for Roy Morris – to have the investigation sidetracked. It was thought that with the rough treatment Slinger received at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital he might be able to call in the favour from a contrite and sympathetic Commissioner of Police. (Slinger background here)
The Barbados Free Press published all of this and more in three stories…
July 23, 2007 – Roy Morris Told To Resign From The Nation News ! ?
July 26, 2007 – Roy Morris – Nation News Train Wreck Continues
One Source Says Barbados Free Press And Other Blogs Made A Difference
BFP reader and commenter “Mr. Know” has been an accurate source of information about the Morris case from the beginning. (It is also interesting that “Mr. Know” always uses an anonymous proxy IP when posting, so we at Barbados Free Press or anyone else couldn’t possibly discover his or her identity).
Yesterday when we were informed that Morris was about to be arrested and charged, we published our article – Source: Barbados Journalist Roy Morris At Oistins Police Station – Arrested, Charged In Sex Assault Case. In response, reader Passin Thru said…
“I am surprised that a big up like Morris was charged. Never happened before like this. Always hushed up and paid off.
Is the answer to why he was charged, BLOGGERS?”
Informed BFP Source “Mr. Know” answered…
“No it wasn’t the bloggers totally. If I tell you in detail my identity could be blown. Needless to say it was senior police who didn’t want the force to be accused of covering up the matter. That’s why it was sent to the DPP.”
So “Mr. Know” credits the blogs with at least some influence in the decision to charge Mr. Morris.
Another source contacted us and stated that the Director of Public Prosecutions had been sitting on the Morris arrest warrant hoping that the case would fade away, but in the end signed the arrest warrant after procrastinating for weeks.
We Are All Aware Of Similar Incidents That Have Been Hushed Up When Elites Were Involved
What do our readers think?
Would Roy Morris have been charged if blogs had not broken the story and asked pointed questions about the case?
IF Morris was charged because blogs made a cover-up impossible – that is as much of an indictment of the police and justice system as could ever be…
… but it would also be evidence of progress.
What do you think, folks?