PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party Chairman Bradley Roberts has accused the Free National Movement of abusing the issuance of stop prosecution orders while in office, as he again defended Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson’s actions over ending prosecution against the Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort and two of its executives.
In a statement released on Sunday, Mr Roberts said an attorney general in a previous FNM administration - Sir Orville Turnquest - issued a nolle prosequi to stop prosecution against John Mosko, who was charged with a fatal shooting.
He also said former FNM Attorney General John Delaney issued a nolle prosequi ending the private prosecution of billionaire Louis Bacon by his Lyford Cay neighbour Peter Nygard.
Mr Roberts asked: “Where was (FNM MP) Loretta Butler-Turner while this decision was made? Was she fast asleep at the Cabinet table since the FNM obviously believes that a nolle prosequi should firstly be discussed around the Cabinet table, contrary to the Constitution?”
“ . . .The FNM lacks the moral authority to fix their mouth to talk about integrity in governance or point any finger in this regard.”
Echoing comments he made last week, Mr Roberts said due to the fact that the Bahamas Hotel Maintenance and Allied Workers Union (BHMAWU) has an ongoing civil case against Sandals, a private prosecution was not needed.
“ . . . For the PLP’s part, the substantive civil proceedings in the Supreme Court adequately address the pressing issues of the union - the issues of unfair dismissal at Sandals and the legal standing of the BHMAWU to negotiate an industrial agreement,” he said.
“A private criminal prosecution was unnecessary and an abuse of the judicial process. Further, the nolle prosequi does not prevent further negotiations on a labour deal.
“The attorney general and the labour minister stand ready and willing to facilitate an industrial agreement in the best interest of the Sandals employees.”
Mrs Maynard-Gibson has been under fire from the opposition as well as some members of her own party after it was revealed last week that she issued a nolle prosequi in the Sandals matter.
Her order halts the action launched against the resort, its general manager, Gary Williams, and financial controller, Fitzroy Walker, by five officers of the BHMAWU who had alleged that Sandals Royal Bahamian was in breach of the Industrial Relations Act by failing/refusing to “treat or enter into negotiations” with the union.
They had also claimed that the resort, Mr Williams and Mr Walker had violated the Industrial Tribunal Relations Act by intimidating and terminating employees. The resort, and its executives, had denied all allegations.
FNM Chairman Sidney Collie has said his party’s plan for an independent director of public prosecution would have prevented the “whole sordid affair” over the attorney general’s nolle prosequi direction.
He said that Mrs Maynard-Gibson’s decision shows that the PLP administration is looking out for foreign investors over the Bahamian people.
Labour Minister Shane Gibson has said that he was disappointed that Mrs Maynard-Gibson did not notify him of the decision as he and other government officials were actively working to resolve issues between the resort and the union.
Last week, Minister of Works Philip Davis and Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe also weighed in on the issue, saying they were both unaware that the order had been issued on the same day more than 600 workers were terminated by the resort.
The FNM and several unionists have called for Mrs Maynard-Gibson to resign over the matter.
In a statement released Thursday night, the attorney general said that she would not be “swayed by the political objectives of her colleagues or anyone else” in the execution of her constitutional duties.