‘Real and credible’ threats prompt Govt to remove ‘GP’ plates from Ministers’ cars
GP plates have been removed from Government Ministers' cars due to security threats, a Minister has revealed.
The plates — which identify official cars — have been swapped for ordinary licence numbers to make the cars harder to spot. The news came after PLP MP Zane DeSilva accused the ruling OBA of attempting to trick the public by hiding the number of GP cars on the roads.
Public Works Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin said yesterday that the threats were “real and credible” — but declined to say which Minsters were regarded as at risk and how many cars had had their plates changed.
She added: “I don't want to drill down on the specifics — suffice to say, from my perspective, Ministers' safety is paramount.”
And she said: “We cannot take anything too lightly — we have a very toxic atmosphere and we cannot take things lightly.”
Ms Gordon-Pamplin said, however, that there were two GP cars permanently assigned to Ministers and a pool of four others available to Ministers who needed transport to official functions and events.
She added: “I have requested information to be tabled in the House of Assembly that there is not a plethora of new vehicles and we will table all the GP cars that exist — with or without civilian licence plates.”
Ms Gordon-Pamplin was speaking after she denied Government was trying to fool voters after being questioned by Mr DeSilva in the House of Assembly on Wednesday night.
She told MPs the move had been made on the advice of the security services.
She added: “There are things that need to be done in consultation with Special Branch and other parts of security forces that give us recommendations.
“And we would be foolhardy if we didn't follow these recommendations.”
Ms Gordon-Pamplin said: “You cannot throw caution to the winds when you have situations that could cause a challenge to us.
“There is nothing sinister about that particular move — it's a decision I thought was absolutely necessary to make.”
And she offered to brief the Opposition in private on the changes.
GP cars became a major issue in the run-up to the December 2013 general election, with the then-Opposition OBA pledging to cut down on their use.
Ms Gordon-Pamplin told the House of Assembly: “There is no heed to hide anything on this side. I mean, you can't really hide a car.
“But I can assure Members that there is no intent to mislead, deceive or whatever. But when I look at the safety of our Ministers, it is paramount to me to ensure that any necessary steps are taken so that these problems do not exist.”
And she said: “When I have been made aware there are threats to the safety of Ministers, it's important to they to ensure we minimise these as much as we can.”
A Bermuda Police Service spokesman yesterday said the force could not comment on security matters.