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George Leacock

Chairman of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation’s (TUCO) Tobago branch Ainsley King says all is not right with the way the new Tobago Festivals Commission (TFC) treated with the George Leacock issue.

According to King, the TFC’s course of treatment is nothing short of a case of “political cover-up”

Reports reaching Tobago Today indicate that Leacock’s contract, which came to an end in July of this year, will not be renewed. He was placed on suspension in May of this year after the Tobago House of Assembly’s Division of Tourism Culture and Transportation launched an investigation into the operations of the TFC.

Leacock was appointed as festival director of the Tobago Festival Commission in 2019 and previously served as chairman of the commission’s board from 2017.

King said he was not surprised by the THA’s move, accusing Leacock of mismanagement during his tenure.

“Policies and things like that didn’t mean anything to him, he ran the affairs of the Tobago Festival Commission as if it was his,” King alleged.

In February of this year, King led a large group of Carnival stakeholders, including the Tobago Mas Band Leaders and TUCO Tobago, in a protest through the streets of Scarborough calling for the immediate removal of Leacock. On two separate occasions (2019 and 2020), the same group filed legal action against the Tobago Festivals Commission.

King is now accusing the authorities of a political cover-up.

“It is clear that this is a normal kind of political cover-up because there are people who would have allowed him to do that— influential people and it is clear that these people, if they had to deal with George, these people would be implicated.”

King, who said he was not speaking from a place of anger, went on to say that he is relieved that Leacock was removed from the position of “influence and authority,” adding he is convinced that that matter is being pushed aside.

“Based on the way he operated with TUCO, creating that level of outrage among members of all the sectors, he was just allowed to do what he wanted. They had an investigation and now nothing—it’s clear this situation is a cover-up.”

Leacock, who was responsible for the logistical planning, organisation and execution of all Tobago’s festivals, including the Tobago Jazz Experience, Heritage Festival, Carnival and the Blue Food Festival, was engaged under the Kelvin Charles-led THA administration.

Contacted on the allegation, however, current TFC chairman Dr Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus said, “I’m not aware of the statement nor the context in which it was said. Mr Leacock’s contractual arrangements with the Tobago Festivals Commission Ltd came to an end.”