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PM may face ‘committal’ over Blackbeard’s Cay

An aerial view of Blackbeard’s Cay.

An aerial view of Blackbeard’s Cay.

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

Prime Minister Perry Christie could soon face court proceedings seeking to imprison him, and other public officials, for failing to obey a Supreme Court Order to shut down the $12 million Blackbeard’s Cay development.

Fred Smith QC, attorney for environmental activist group, reEarth, told Tribune Business yesterday that his clients had obtained “a penal notice” that would enable them to “apply to commit” all defendants, including Mr Christie and one of his Cabinet ministers, to Fox Hill prison for contempt of court.

Mr Smith revealed that all members of the Town Planning Committee had been served with the enforcement Order, and penal notice, relating to Blackbeard’s Cay, and only Mr Christie and V Alfred Gray, minister of agriculture and fisheries, remained.

The Callenders & Co partner, though, admitted that process servers were “too afraid” to-date to approach either man, given that they would likely have to contend with the phalanx of bodyguards hired to protect them.

The latest development in the legal battle over Blackbeard’s Cay, located off the northern New Providence coast opposite Sandals Royal Bahamian, stems from what reEarth alleges to be the Government’s persistent refusal to close the development down in defiance of a Supreme Court Order.

Mr Smith yesterday accused the Government of “creating a constitutional crisis” by failing to the court, and said: “This case is symptomatic of a complete break down of the rule of law in the Bahamas.”

He described the “festering” battle over the cruise passenger excursion destination as “a blatant example” of the Government ignoring and disrespecting the Supreme Court.

Blackbeard’s Cay remains open, and in full operations mode, despite acting-Chief Justice Stephen Isaacs issuing an Order on August 31, 2015, last year to enforce his earlier judgment in favour of reEarth’s Judicial Review application.

His enforcement Order requires both Mr Christie and the Town Planning Committee to mandate that Blue Illusions, the project’s operator, cease developing the island location and restore the land to its original condition,

And Mr Gray, as minister of agriculture and fisheries, is required to remove the eight dolphins at the Blackbeard’s Cay encounter to a new, “appropriate location”.

Justice Isaacs’ Order should effectively spell the end of Blackbeard’s Cay in its current form on Balmoral Island, yet the Government has yet to act despite six months having passed.

“Given that none of the defendants have complied with the court’s Order in stopping activities there, and causing the physical and marine landscape changes to be made to revert the Cay back to its original condition,” Mr Smith told Tribune Business, “reEarth returned to the judge and obtained a penal notice endorsed on the Order for the purpose of applying to commit all the defendants for contempt of court in breaching the Order.”

Acknowledging that it “has proven difficult and, in some cases, impossible” to serve all defendants, Mr Smith said as of yesterday only Mr Christie and Mr Gray remained outstanding.

“The process servers are afraid to serve V Alfred Gray and the Prime Minister,” he added. “We are looking for a process server that will be able to access either of these Cabinet ministers.

“It is very disappointing that the chief executive and his Cabinet minister are difficult to be served, and we may well have to apply for substitute service or, unfortunately, attempt physical service.”

Mr Smith confirmed that Blue Illusions and its principal, Samir Andrawos, had also been served with the documents at their registered office, even though they were not parties or defendants in the case.

He said the move was “just to put them on notice, as they’re acting in breach of the Order”.

Wayne Munroe QC, the attorney for Blue Illusions and Mr Andrawos, did not return Tribune Business messages yesterday seeking comment, even though Munroe & Associates staff confirmed that they - and the nature of the inquiry - had been passed to him.

In an interview with this paper last September, Mr Munroe pledged to fight any effort to close Blackbeard’s Cay on behalf of his client.

He argued that such an action would be “manifestly unfair” to Blue Illusions and a breach of their constitutional rights because they were not a party to the action, which was between reEarth and the Government defendants.

And, should efforts to block the Order’s enforcement fail, and Blackbeard’s Cay be forced to close, Mr Munroe hinted that the Government would face a multi-million dollar lawsuit for loss of profits and other damages stemming from a ‘breach of contract’ involving Blue Illusions Ltd’s Heads of Agreement.

He warned then that the Bahamian taxpayer would be held “liable for millions of dollars”, given his client’s $12 million investment to-date, while 60-100 Bahamian jobs would also be jeopardised.

Mr Smith, though, told Tribune Business that the Government’s failure to follow the court Order “reflects very poorly on the rule of law in the Bahamas”.

“This is what Save the Bays is all about,” he added, “seeking to uphold the rule of law and transparency in governance, upholding statutory procedures, protecting freedom and access to information, and accountability by public servants in the exercise of their public duties.

“It is very unfortunate that such a high profile case continues to fester as such a blatant example of the executive refusing to obey a court Order,” the QC added.

“We’re being driven to the absurd step of having to commit public officials. This has caused a constitutional crisis where the executive has refused to obey an Order of the Supreme Court.”

Sam Duncombe, reEarth’s president, yesterday confirmed that the group was waiting for the enforcement Order and penal notice to be served on all defendants.

“Then we’ll see if the Government follows the law like the rest of us poor slobs have to,” she told Tribune Business.

Justice Isaacs’ original verdict, and subsequent enforcement Order, quashed Blackbeard’s Cay’s dolphin import licences and preliminary Site Approval Plan, on the grounds that they had not been properly obtained in accordance with procedures laid down in Bahamian law.

He also ruled that the Government and developer had failed to hold proper public consultation, which is again required by law.

Mr Gray did not respond to Tribune Business requests for comment yesterday, despite messages being left on his mobile phone.

Comments

asiseeit 6 years, 6 months ago

If the government does not obey their own laws why should any other Bahamian obey them? This government wonders why we have a crime problem, if they would look in the mirror they will see the main cause of our lawless society, themselves. The government is direct the cause of the breakdown of the rule of law in this country. This is what you get when you have a government that is corrupt, immoral, unethical, and biased. Wake up Bahamas, you have a government that is destroying your country from the inside. Your children will ask you one day why you allowed them to do so.

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GrassRoot 6 years, 6 months ago

your the last idealist on the island.

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Godson 6 years, 6 months ago

Asiseeit, and saying now through you and others, we have awaken, what next should we do?

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SP 6 years, 6 months ago

....The only way to achieved the change we seek is to demand it!.....

Government has finally pushed Bahamians beyond docile cowardice. We have to loudly agitate for the change we want and relentlessly demonstrate against government to show them and the world we will no longer stand for their piracy!

Martin Luther King - “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws”

http://zeninthecar.com/civil-disobedi...">http://zeninthecar.com/civil-disobedi...

Slavery, equal rights, racial equality, police brutality, and gay rights were only overcome by peoples civil disobedience.

Majority rule was won by demonstrating! It is time to shut the country down again!

Bahamians must rise up or be destroyed by a handful of blatantly corrupt pirates!

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MonkeeDoo 6 years, 6 months ago

If they need someone to Serve the Prime Minister and V. Alfred Gray just let me know. I will be happy to do that as they cross Bay Street to go into the House.

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Clamshell 6 years, 6 months ago

You took the words right out of my mouth, Monkee ... I'm not afraid of Perry Christie and his goons, I'd be pleased to serve the papers, no charge, as a public service.

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Sickened 6 years, 6 months ago

Mr. Smith I don't always agree with you but I certainly wish you well in getting Perry and Gray imprisoned. Their imprisonment would reflect poorly on The Bahamas but I think that it is the best thing for all Bahamians.

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EnoughIsEnough 6 years, 6 months ago

the PM is always in Olives, Cable Beach - try serving him there. This article thrills me and I'm glad there is an attorney out there who is not afraid to do his job. Watching with interest....

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GrassRoot 6 years, 6 months ago

If 50shadyGray thinks he needs a bodyguard, I hope is being made paying for him himself.

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TalRussell 6 years, 6 months ago

Comrade "King Counsel" Freddy is turning into our own local boy Elliot Ness, wanting lock up nation's PM and his Minister Immigration?
Freddy's captain abuse of office exploits against the PLP government takes me back to 1931 when they couldn't get mobster Al Capone on charges of being a crime boss but eventfully got him to plead guilty to tax evasion and prohibition charges. ... for a two-and-a-half year sentence.
I seriously doubt PM Christie, nor Minister Freddy, are about plead guilty for Freddy to have them face committal to Fox Hill Prison, over Blackbeard's Cay or the Cubans.

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jus2cents 6 years, 6 months ago

rule of law noun 1. the principle that all people and institutions are subject to and accountable to law that is fairly applied and enforced; the principle of government by law.

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Sickened 6 years, 6 months ago

That's not a Bahamian rule book that you are quoting from.

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birdiestrachan 6 years, 6 months ago

Judge Isaacs gave the outspoken QC penal notice to put Mr: Christie and Mr: Gray in jail. that is very interesting. as Sam Duncombe says of herself and the QC "poor slobs" I could not explain them any better myself. In the main time Fred Smith has a man who has been accused of rape three times on bail. It seems as if The QC runs things. He himself should serve the penal notice the judge has given him on Mr: Christie and have the FNM TV station in place .

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asiseeit 6 years, 6 months ago

Birdie, if you or I where to ignore a lawful order by the supreme court we would be locked up, why should the P.M. be treated any different than all other citizens of The Bahamas? You have no ground to stand on in trying to defend the inaction of the P.M., a lawful order was handed down by our highest court and the P.M. has thumbed his nose at them. Lets see you try that and lets see what happens to you.

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MonkeeDoo 6 years, 6 months ago

birdiestrachan: I hope that you will be able to witness the Service and the Supreme Court committal. In 1649 King Charles, King of England, was put to death by the people of England so putting Christie and Gray in Jail for contempt is nothing big or new. The result of a subsequent Commission of Inquiry might lead to a charge of Treason and that might lead to death by hanging. Maybe for a lot more that these two.

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YesiJed 6 years, 6 months ago

birdie..birdie..birdie... How much more ridiculous can the comments get in here? The fact that PGC is blatantly disregarding the Highest Court of the Land doesn't bother you ??? This sheep-like following has got to stop if the Bahamas is to move forward . Lock them all up !

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bluesky 6 years, 6 months ago

Instead of going to court, the outspoken QC should get on his knees in parliament Square and ask god to close Blackbeard's Cay.

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MonkeeDoo 6 years, 6 months ago

Who is bluesky ? Anybody know ? God works in mysterious ways -His wonders to perform. Maybe God is asking Smith to do the earthly things to bring Christie to justice for his actions. God has worked through people for ever. Often we don't even have to ask him because he sees evil before we do. Like Blackbeards Cay.

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bluesky 6 years, 6 months ago

Monkeedon't, The Outspoken QC works in mysterious ways

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banker 6 years, 6 months ago

Damn it! I saw the word "commital" and two things went through my mind. First of all, it was spelled wrong -- has two t's as in committal. And then my heart leaped for joy -- I thought that they were committing Crisco Butt to Sandilands. He is not only crazy, he is criminal. I would be content with sending him either to Sandilands or to Fox Hill.

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SP 6 years, 6 months ago

They need get in line behind a few others wanting to jail PM Christie & his dumb goats

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SP 6 years, 6 months ago

....Former Brazilian President facing corruption and money laundering scandal probe ......

Another 70 year old former nation leader and dozens of friends, family and lovers are facing "committal" in Brazil for corruption and receiving illicit benefits from kickback schemes.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-a...">http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-a...

The only difference with PM Christie and former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is, Silva is also credited with lifting millions of his people out of poverty while PM Christie's legacy will be one of driving more Bahamians into poverty than any other PM in Bahamian history.

Ironically, similar to Bahamas crew of cross party line piracy, the opposition party leader Mr. Cunha is also being investigated for sharing in Brazil's Petrobras corruption scandal.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/ultimat...">http://finance.yahoo.com/news/ultimat...

Hang in there PM. Christie, you AND former PM Ingraham's day will soon be upon you too like a thief in the night.

http://tribune242.com/users/photos/20...">http://thetribune.media.clients.ellin..." alt="None">

by SP

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MonkeeDoo 6 years, 6 months ago

birdiestrachan must be in agreement with this position to jail them. Gone quiet now.

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SP 6 years, 6 months ago

... Piracy revixit commercii conterentur - "Piracy Revived, Commerce Destroyed"...

Captain Perry Gladstone Christie and his friends, family and lovers crew of pirates are doomed to repeat history!

They conveniently forgot the national motto of the Bahamas prior to 1973 Independence coined in the year 1717 by Governor Woodes Rogers - Expulsis Piratis/Restituta Commercia. (“Piracy Expelled, Commerce Restored.”)

Pirate Captains Perry Gladstone Christie and Hubert Alexander Ingraham erroneously held the belief that controlling governance while stifling information and the people would have been sufficient armament to protect their return to piracy.

Together they inhibited commerce for selfish gain and ruled "parties of anarchy"! Leading the Bahamas to the dysfunctional, economic disastrous state which we now live.

History always repeats itself!

Karl Marx: - “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He has forgotten to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.”

http://tribune242.com/users/photos/20...">http://thetribune.media.clients.ellin..." alt="None">

by SP

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SP 6 years, 6 months ago

... Fittingly ironic that Christie's piracy comes to the fore over "Blackbeard's Cay"! ...

Captain Ingraham will soon be found sailing equally matched with Captain Christie in this one!

Aaaahhhh, Many buckos passed on to glory gunna be extra grog-filled when these two matey's be at last in irons where they belong!

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bluesky 6 years, 6 months ago

I dare the outspoken QC to serve PGC and have him committed, no I double dare him. The QC is only blowing smoke.

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John 6 years, 6 months ago

Money Talks: how much you have to lose that Fred Smith and his (just as bad) band wagon, will get their way with closing down Black Beard's Cay, before the vendors regain peaceful access to Cabbage Beach. And guess what? It's all about economics and the desire to make money, forget the ReEarth packaging. The persons who oppose Black Beard Cay feel it threatens their income. BTW did you hear about the Iraq businessman who was sentenced to death by execution for stealing over $3 billion of that country's oil revenue? Despite offering to pay the money back with interest and penalties, the court wants to enforce its ruling because of the nature of the crime...meanwhile in the Bahamas...

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proudloudandfnm 6 years, 6 months ago

I'LL SERVE THEM!!!!

LET ME CALL FRED NOW.....

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bluesky 6 years, 6 months ago

Hold on proudloudandfnm, the Outspoken QC just filed a $10M lawsuit against the gov't and $2M against Fred Mitchell for his Cubans. you might as well wait to serve these papers too. you may have a career in the making here.

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