Dunkley: More Details Needed On Settlement

February 13, 2019

“Government’s brief justification that the settlement saves the costs of a lengthy court hearing and ends the prospects of any further proceedings is insufficient for a number of reasons,” Michael Dunkley said, adding that he “hopes the government will reconsider their muted approach to this matter and provide a more detailed justification.”

Settlements Made

Mr Dunkley’s comments follow after the Ministry of National Security confirmed that a settlement has been made after some of the people that were pepper sprayed during the December 2, 2016 protests “sought to pursue legal action.”

A Ministry spokesperson previously said, “As a result of the December 2, 2016 protest, which took place in the vicinity of the House of Assembly and culminated in the pepper-spraying of members of the public in attendance, a number of Applicants sought to pursue legal action against the Police Complaints Authority.

“In an effort to settle this matter, the Ministry of National Security engaged in discussions with the Applicants and the parties have come to an amicable conclusion.

“The settlement is a legally binding, confidential document which prohibits the parties from divulging the details or nature of the settlement. As such, the Ministry of National Security and by extension, the Government, is unable to comment any further on this matter.

“The settlement also saves the costs of a lengthy court hearing on the application for judicial review and ends the prospect of any further proceedings.”

Michael Dunkley’s Comments

Mr Dunkley said, “Like many I was very surprised and concerned with the acknowledgment by the PLP Government that taxpayer’s money will be or has been paid to demonstrators after the Police Complaints Authority ruled there was no misconduct on the part of individual officers.

“Sadly government’s brief justification that the settlement saves the costs of a lengthy court hearing and ends the prospects of any further proceedings is insufficient for a number of reasons;

  • “The PCA is a respected body with respected members and chaired by a highly respected lawyer. If their report finds no misconduct by individuals officers then why does the government feel it would not stand the challenge of a judicial review or any other proceeding?
  • “Taxpayer dollars should always be spent with openness, transparency and accountability. The government has provided no justification for their secrecy.
  • “Can the PLP Government be intimidated by a threat of legal action and forced to settle in secrecy? This is not the first time the PLP Government have succumbed rather than let a judicial process play out.
  • “How can the Government justify this significant payout without information?
  • “Why is there a need to keep details under wraps?
  • “If the government feel 26 complainants should be paid is the government considering paying the 14 police officers who are alleged to have been assaulted?

“In addition, many will highlight and compare the hypocrisy of this payout, and the excuse of saving costs, with the fact that, in spite of losing on more than one occasion when it comes to same sex marriage, the PLP Government is willing to continue to spend taxpayer dollars and challenge the ruling in the Privy Council.

“The PLP Government seems to be setting a precedent of payouts cloaked in secrecy. Does the government believe this can stymie a PATI request?

“I hope the government will reconsider their muted approach to this matter and provide a more detailed justification of this and other decisions.”

We asked the Ministry for comment and will update if able.

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