PM Browne lays blame for ‘Bassett embarrassment’ at tourism officials’ feet, but residents say he is being a hypocrite about it

As Antigua and Barbuda continues to scrape egg off its face over the Angela Bassett embarrassment, Prime Minister Gaston Browne is pointing the finger at someone else for the blunder.

The American actress’ name and image were being used for promotional purposes without her prior legal consent, and Browne has put the blame on the Ministry of Tourism.

After last Wednesday’s Cabinet Notes announced that Bassett was being appointed a tourism ambassador, that information, along with her photos, went into wide circulation.

However, no formal contracts had been signed and no duties had been assigned since, according to Government Spokesman Lionel “Max” Hurst, it was a “spur-of-the-moment” proposition – made while PM Browne was having dinner with Bassett and others.

Two days ago, the American actress’ lawyers wrote to the Tourism Board, asking that it cease and desist from using her image and name in promotional and marketing events until formal arrangements are made.

Browne immediately expressed his dissatisfaction with the Ministry of Tourism’s handling of Bassett’s appointment as a tourism ambassador-designate.

According to other media reports, the prime minister accused the tourism authorities of having acted prematurely and without proper planning, which lead to the embarrassing situation.

In response, some residents are accusing PM Browne of being a hypocrite.  They note that he, too, shared the information and photos of Bassett and another American actress, Dawnn Lewis, on his Facebook page. He also posted a news article promoting the notion that Bassett and Lewis had been appointed tourism ambassadors.

Critics say that Browne should have come out earlier and advised the Tourism Board to stop using Bassett’s image, name and biographical information since she had not yet given legal consent.

One woman is asking why Browne chose to wait until her lawyers had issued the cease-and-desist request to say that tourism officials had acted prematurely.

“He needs to behave like a prime minister and take responsibility for matters, instead of always laying blame on someone else,” she says.

Tourism officials have been given until May 15 to provide proof that they received the lawyers’ letter and have removed all instances of Bassett’s name and image for promotional use.