Claudius Beckley, the official TV cameraman seconded from the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS) to his Excellency President Koroma has refuted allegations published in the Concord Times newspaper (11/04/08) alleging that he sells video tapes of visitors to State House for $150.
Speaking on the telephone line from The Gambia where he was on an official visit with the President, Beckley explained that when he was seconded to State house he was given only a small DVD camcorder which he used. Given that his institution (SLBS) could not provide the necessary tools for him to do his work properly he used his own money to buy a machine which he uses to convert the DVD tapes to VHS thereby making it suitable for broadcast at the SLBS-TV studios.
Claudius explained that visitors to the President sometimes request a copy of the tapes of their visit and even the President on a few occasions has asked him to make copies for visiting delegations which he has honourably done. However given that he is not supplied tapes for such extra work he often asks the people who request for the copied tapes to give him twenty thousand Leones only to buy tapes. Naturally if the people are happy with his work, and usually the speed with which he delivers, they give him a tip as an appreciation, which he never solicits not insists on.
Beckley says he has refused tips for such jobs especially from the President because of the respect he has for his office and the privilege given to him to serve in such capacity.
He described the offending article as “utter rubbish” calculated to tarnish his hard earned reputation. Beckley revealed that late one evening he was called by Regina Thomas of the Concord times who asked her about the selling of tapes. He said he told her categorically that this was not true and that he only asked people to buy the tapes they want him to record on because his office does not provide tapes for such cases. He questioned the motive behind the story, opining that it was simply a case of somebody wanting to destroy him –”but for what?” he asked.
The author of the story Rachel Horner says she stands by her story.