[Updated] This morning [June 17] in the House of Assembly, Premier Paula Cox fired back at Opposition Leader John Barritt saying, “It is wrong and unconscionable for the Opposition Leader to seek to impugn the integrity of the Government.”
She went on to say that, “The Police are investigating the allegations arising in the Bolden case, let them get on with it and do their job, and keep the politics out of it.”
“Once the investigation has been concluded, let the chips fall where they may, and then whatever needs to be stated or done can be done. However pending the outcome of the investigation, I will not remain mute to unconscionable utterances directed at this Government.”
The Premier was responding to a statement released by Mr Barritt in response to the allegations levied at former Premier Dr Ewart Brown by David Bolden during his trial.
Mr Bolden and his wife were accused of stealing from their company Emerald Capital and laundering some of the money. On June 14th, the couple were found guilty of one count of misleading the Bermuda Monetary Authority, and were acquitted on 18 charges of theft and money laundering.
After the conclusion of the trial, The Royal Gazette reported that while on the stand David Bolden made allegations in reference to Dr Brown, and the Police confirmed they have “commenced inquiries to determine whether any criminal offences have been committed.”
OBA Interim Leader John Barritt had responded to the news saying, ”These are extremely serious allegations, made under oath in Supreme Court before the Chief Justice of Bermuda. They raise questions about the conduct of the Government of Bermuda that must be answered.”
“The allegations must to be subject to an immediate and thorough Police investigation. Every reasonable and right-thinking person would expect that.”
“Until the allegations are addressed, Bermuda’s international reputation will suffer and we will endure another episode when the integrity of Bermuda’s political leaders is open to question,” concluded Mr Barritt.
This morning Premier Cox rendered her objection to Mr Barritt’s statement saying “We must come together as political rhetoric is not without consequence for a community and indeed a country seeking greatness.”
“The new Opposition Leader commenting on the allegations a few days ago, later than I as Premier, and echoing in large part my view there should be an investigation is fine.”
“It would have been best left at that. But his attempt to put a sting in the tail re-Government does a disservice to a role of that Honourable Member, who should be setting out best practice for Parliament.”
“On some issues one must put country first, and resist the temptation to fire cheap political shots. No one, not one person on the Government benches, endorses unlawful actions. And it is wrong and unconscionable for the Opposition Leader to seek to impugn the integrity of the Government in that way.”
“It is farcical, to tell the Bermuda story on the world stage, and then to score own goals in this manner. The Police are investigating the allegations arising in the Bolden case, let them get on with it and do their job, and keep the politics out of it.”
“Once the investigation has been concluded, let the chips fall where they may, and then whatever needs to be stated or done can be done.”
“However pending the outcome of the investigation, I will not remain mute to unconscionable utterances directed at this Government.”
“We must be models of leadership, and therefore we must focus on character, substance and integrity in all that we do. And remember that we are elected to serve and to be honourable and honest brokers in our dealing with the public and each other,” concluded Premier Cox.
Following the Ministerial statement, Opposition Leader John Mr Barritt questioned the Premier. Mr Barritt’s final question was, “Is it the Premier’s position that all the Government is doing at this time, is allowing the Police investigation to take its course, and doing no investigation of its own?”
The Premier replied that, “What the Government is doing is making sure we take every measure and action to enhance good governance.”
Speaker of the House Stanley Lowe interrupted and said he is “reluctant to open that up because of what is taking place down below.”
The Speaker was then interrupted by Mr Barritt who said, “You may be reluctant but that was an attack on me in a Ministerial statement with no opportunity to reply,” to which Mr Lowe replied “Thank you Mr Barritt, please take your seat.”
In a statement issued yesterday evening Dr Brown said, “Further to my initial statement, I had indicated that I would pursue a private prosecution for perjury against David Bolden because of the wholly unfounded allegations he made at his recent trial. I have sought the services of Queen’s Counsel Jerome Lynch to assist Mark Pettingill and Marc Daniels toward that end.”
“Since my initial statement, there has been an announcement that there is to be a formal police investigation into the matter. I wish to make it crystal clear that I welcome that investigation and will assist in whatever way I can. It is not without significance that the one count Bolden is convicted of is lying to the Bermuda Monetary Authority, which is an imprisonable offense.”
“I challenge Bolden or anyone else to repeat that allegation in public without the protection afforded by the system that says that no one can be prosecuted for defamation for words uttered in Court. I also challenge Bolden to name the government Minister who purportedly brought him a message from me,” concluded Dr Brown.
Update 12:57pm: The Premier’s full statement is below:
I am becoming increasingly concerned about the continued rhetoric coming from political leaders of this country that sit in Opposition. We understand fully the role of an Opposition given the 35 years that we spent keeping the former UBP Government in check, and as the Honourable and learned Member John Barritt, JP, MP has said on many an occasion, “the role of an opposition is to challenge the Government of the day.”
Challenge, hold accountable, that is what should be expected of a credible opposition, and we applaud those few members of the opposition that understand their role and do the hard work necessary to offer challenge with substance and alternative solutions. This is not a time for us to play at politics. This is not a time to be negative just to score political points.
The world’s economies continue to struggle in the aftermath of the worse financial crisis in more than 100 years, and we know that we cannot sit here alone in the Atlantic and not be impacted by what is taking place elsewhere in the world.
We must learn to be more positive about our achievements:
- - Averted a major banking crisis through Government support when many banks around the world failed and world economies sit today on the brink of debt defaults.
- - Averted massive shocks to the employee base through industry crippling redundancies by introducing more than $50 million in stimulus to the local economy.
- - Enhanced our standing in the global financial services marketplace through negotiating tax treaties (24 and counting) and through enhancing our regulatory framework.
- - Opened the doors to foreign investment in our hotel properties.
- - Eased the financial burden on mothers and fathers looking to see their children get higher learning through the Bermuda College.
- - Supported both Hoteliers and retailers during some very difficult years by providing tax concessions.
- - Championed the building of a top flight hospital to ensure our health care product can be of better quality.
- - Police and community success in bringing murderers to justice.
These are all positive achievements during extremely challenging conditions. It is completely unacceptable therefore, for this country to risk Hari Kari (an ancient form of ritual suicide that defeated Japanese Samurai would undertake).
The sense of unity that is needed during times of crisis is being suppressed by the partisan rancor that distracts us from shaping good public policy. That is why our young people lose faith. That is why our voters become disaffected. That is how countries self-destruct.
The fervour around the next election is becoming a distraction, and is fostering the political rhetoric that you see playing itself out in the press today. There’s too much unbridled emotion and anger.
We need unity. But the emergence of unity is being impeded because petty politics is taking precedence over common sense. Maybe the election needs to be sooner rather than later, so that we can put all of this behind us, and get on with the healing that this country needs.
Mr. Speaker, I will never forget a friend saying that their greatest concern for Bermuda when the PLP won the Government in 1998 was the extent to which an opposition will go in order to wrestle back the power that comes with leading a country.
Our people need the “maximum” effort from all Members of Parliament, Government and Opposition, that sit in both the Upper and Lower Houses of the Legislature.
We must come together as political rhetoric is not without consequence for a community and indeed for a country seeking greatness.
The new Opposition leader commenting on the allegations a few days later than I as Premier and echoing in large part my view that there should be an investigation is fine. It would have been best left at that but his attempt to put a sting in the tail re Government does a disservice to the role of Honourable Members should be doing in setting out best practice for Parliament.
On some issues one has to put country first and resist the temptation to fire cheap political shots. No one, not one person on the Government benches endorses unlawful actions and it is wrong and unconscionable for the Opposition Leader to seek to impugn the integrity of this Government in that way.
It is farcical to tell the Bermuda story on the world stage and then to score own goals in this manner. The police are investigating the allegations arising in the Bolden case- let them get on with doing their job and keep the politics out of it.
Once the investigation has concluded then let the chips fall where they may and then whatever needs to be stated or done can be done. However pending the outcome of the investigation I will not remain mute to unconscionable utterances directed at this Government.
We must be models of leadership and therefore we must focus on character, substance and integrity in all that we do and remember that we are elected to serve and also to be honourable and honest brokers in our dealing with the public and each other.
Thank you Mr. Speaker.
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