Categorized | National News

STB Praises House Speaker

Members of the Save the Bays (STB) are applauding House Speaker Dr. Kendal Major after he revealed that he shouldn’t have let MP for Marathon Jerome Fitzgerald read the private emails of members of the environmental group in Parliament.

Recently, Dr. Major told members of the media that he should have let Mr. Fitzgerald reveal his sources before he read the emails in the House of Assembly.

Mr. Fitzgerald’s actions led to a lengthy court battle in which Justice Indra Charles fined the MP $150,000 and placed an injunction on him that he could not read any more of those personal emails without the consent of the STB.

Initially, Dr. Major along with MP for Fox Hill Fred Mitchell; MP for Marco City Greg Moss and Mr. Fitzgerald condemned the ruling.

However, Dr. Major last week said even though he has no regrets he should have asked for sources.

On Sunday, Chairman of STB John Darville in an open letter thanked the house speaker.

“It has been STB’s position from the start that our fundamental constitutional rights were violated by the actions by the MP for Marathon and others – a perspective with which, as you are aware, the Supreme Court of The Bahamas has concurred,” he said.

“We are extremely heartened to know the Chair of the Honorable House of Assembly feels this unwarranted attack on private citizens was also a violation of best parliamentary practices and should not have been allowed take place. STB could not agree more.

“It is indeed lamentable, however, that the path to such rational consensus has been so long, turbulent and bitter. Members of the public, including leaders in the financial community, have quite rightly reacted with alarm and trepidation to the actions of the MP for Marathon and others, in particular the consistent threats to target STB members once again.”

Mr. Darville said what is most disheartening is that the “violation of privacy” has caught the attention of international media.

“It is our humble view, Mr. Speaker, that this unfortunate debacle was totally unnecessary from the outset and we feel it is in the best interests of all concerned that it be brought to a peaceful, fair and sensible conclusion as soon as possible before any further damage is done, either at home or abroad, to our good name as a country,” he said.

“The world is indeed watching, Mr. Speaker, and we should do everything we can to avoid sending the message that The Bahamas is a place where citizens can be censured and even jailed for seeking to defend their rights through the courts as mandated by the constitution. Added to which, any such finding would only do untold further damage to the relationship between parliament and the judiciary.

“We therefore respectfully request, in the interest of calming an unnecessarily inflamed situation that is extremely damaging to the national interest that you call off the efforts to hold our legal team in contempt.”

Mr. Darville said it was never the intention of STB to become entangled in an altercation with either the executive or the Parliament of The Bahamas and that it remains “baffled” as to how a private lawsuit, launched against private individuals, led to a hostile attack on members by sitting MPs.

“Much has been made of our application for an injunction to defend against further breaches of our right to privacy. You have been quoted in the press as asserting that the right of Parliament to govern itself should be respected and pointing to your ruling that no further private correspondence in the House,” he said.

“We therefore submit that our actions were in no way intended to create the impression of a challenge to either parliamentary privilege or the authority of either the Chair. They were simply an attempt to defend ourselves when it seemed there was no one else willing to defend us.”

The House of Assembly’s Committee on Privilege lead by MP for Mount Moriah Arnold Forbes is probing the matter including the merit of an ex parte injunction by Justice Charles in April ahead of substantive hearing.

Mr. Darville said while the environmental group appreciates the Speaker’s words, he asked him to consider its members’ feelings.

“Our members have been thrown into fear and anxiety, we have been denounced and victimized as a result of the unwarranted attacks against us. Our families, our children, have been harassed and taunted over the totally false claims made against us,” the STB chairman said.

“We respectfully invite you, Mr. Speaker, to lead the way in bringing an end to this lunacy and ensuring calmer heads prevail before it is indeed too late. Finally Mr. Speaker, we hope that no offence is taken to the open nature of this letter; we thought it appropriate given your most welcome public comments regarding the tabling and reading of our correspondence.”

Meantime, Mr. Fitzgerald plans to appeal Justice Charles’ ruling.



Written by Jones Bahamas

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