Premier: Complaint Over Information, Treaty

March 12, 2018

“There was a complaint by the U.S. Department of Justice that the former Government used information that was received in a mutual legal assistance for a civil matter,” Premier David Burt said in the House of Assembly as MPs were discussing matters surrounding the lawsuit against Lahey.

This came during Friday’s session of Parliament where the motion to adjourn was dominated by discussion of the Massachusetts Court ruling to dismiss the case filed by the Bermuda Government against Lahey Clinic.

The  U.S. – Bermuda Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty had intitially been mentioned in the House in February of last year, with the PLP questioning whether the then Government had “received any communication from the US Department of Justice regarding a possible violation under that treaty.” You can read/listen to that exchange in 2017 here.

It was brought up again on Friday, and after the Speaker of the House read the communication, he told the House, “Our treaty relationship was in threat, based on what I have in front of me.”

Audio excerpt of some of the exchange:

“You take that information and use it in a civil trial, and you attract the attention of the US Department of Justice, who is asking why are we doing this? People need to be held accountable for their actions,” Premier Burt said.

“It’s very clear that they do not wish to put the people’s interests first,” he added. “Because if they did put the people’s interests first they would not have spent this money going on this political witch hunt.

“If they did put the people’s interests first, they wouldn’t have risked our treaty relationship with the United States and used this information.

The Premier added “that is the facts, and there is not a single person on that side who sat in the Cabinet who would stand up and Point of Order me because they know it to be true.”

OBA MP Patricia Gordon Pamplin then called a Point of Order, saying “it’s total conjecture that the information was known generally by the members of the Cabinet.”

“I had no prior knowledge,” she added. “It did not come to Cabinet and I think the Honourable Member needs to withdraw that as he is misleading the House.”

The Premier then replied, “It seems that there were a whole lot of things that went on inside of that Government where people just didn’t know.”

When Premier Burt mentioned reading an email from the U.S. Department of Justice, Speaker Dennis Lister interjected and asked if the email should be read out in full.

The Speaker then suggested that he look at it, and after he did, Speaker Lister said, ”I will not read the full content of this,” adding that it came from a “senior officer in the US Justice Criminal Department and addressed to the former AG Chambers.”

Saying he “will not name individuals,” the Speaker said he will read the very last line, which said, “this is a very important matter which can have an impact on our treaty relationship.”

“Yes, our treaty relationship was in threat, based on what I have in front of me. I’ve confirmed what they said. I can’t speak if the individuals received it and shared it with his colleagues,” the Speaker added.

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