I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Premier for reversing his decision to fight his defamation suit using public funds.
Not long ago the Premier released a statement that:
“After taking further legal advice, I have determined that the costs associated with my legal action against the Opposition Leader, the Hon. Marc Bean, and the Shadow Minister of Finance, the Hon. David Burt will not be covered by public funds.”
This is to be commended.
As was pointed out, by myself and others, the use of public funds to cover a defamation suit such as this has previously been ruled to constitute a misuse of public funds – and therefore illegal.
Ironically, the current Premier was one of those who sought to criticise the former administration for this exact same thing, which does make one wonder if the Premier actually listened to his earlier comments or was just reading from a prepared script, or if he just got too tunnel-visioned due to the red haze of anger. I’ll leave that up to readers to decide for themselves.
What is important is that the Premier made a mistake, that mistake was pointed out to him by myself and others, including by OBA supporters, and the mistake was subsequently reversed before it become even more farcical. I think we can all agree that such is a good thing.
I assume that this reversal includes Ministers Pettingill and Crockwell too.
Having said that, one does wonder why his Cabinet, and particularly his Attorney General, didn’t seek to correct him before it was announced that Government would cover the legal costs. Especially as the Attorney General is a party to the suit.
While I commend the reversal, it does lead one to question the suitability of the Attorney General for his post, especially as this follows on from him being apparently ignorant of the Ministerial Code of Conduct and, more recently, overstepping his constitutional remit regarding the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP).
Perhaps it’s time for a new AG after all?
It certainly leaves the Premier open to the charge of failing to consult with legal advice in advance, thus avoiding this whole farce in the first place – that is, it leaves the Premier open to charges of recklessness.
I’m not sure if my contributions in this helped even a little in bringing about this reversal, but I’m happy if they did, even in a small way.
In the midst of all the other craziness going on right now, we can all take some comfort in this as a win for the island overall!