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Ag’S Lawyers Walk Away Over Strategy

Attorney General Carl Bethel.

Attorney General Carl Bethel.

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

HIGH-profile attorneys on the government’s legal team have severed ties with the Office of the Attorney General due to a difference of legal opinion on which strategy to take in its rebuttal to legal action filed over the removal of shanty towns.

Attorney General Carl Bethel issued a statement yesterday, which noted Harvey Tynes, QC, and Robert Adams from Graham Thompson in Grand Bahama are no longer representing the government in its case against those seeking to block the government’s shanty town eradication.

Mr Bethel said with the two attorneys gone from the government’s legal team, the Office of the Attorney General will now conduct the matter on behalf of respondents “with the government’s absolute determination to humanely address the vexing and long-standing problem of irregular, illegal, unsafe and unsanitary housing in shanty towns throughout The Bahamas.”

His statement continued: “Based on this firm resolve, we have agreed to part ways with formerly retained private counsel. The government expressed its thanks and appreciation to Messrs Tynes and Adams for their respectful and untiring efforts up to this point.”

This comes as shanty town residents have asked the government to rescind revised notices asking them to demolish structures or they will petition the court to have top officials cited for contempt.

The Supreme Court previously ordered the government and utility providers to halt any planned evictions, service disconnections or demolitions in shanty towns pending a judicial review of the Minnis administration’s policy to eradicate those communities, filed on behalf of 177 shanty town residents from both New Providence and Abaco.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes, Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister, and Mr Bethel are named as respondents in the ex-parte application.

Attorney Fred Smith told The Tribune yesterday his clients have received revised notices from the Ministry of Public Works concerning the same land as previous notices, which are under dispute.

He explained the revised notices are individually addressed, and purport to have followed an inspection unlike previous notices, adding that the lack of particulars was one of several objections formed by his clients in their application.

A notice, obtained by The Tribune, was issued by Ministry of Public Works Building Control Officer Craig Delancy to Freddie Petifree of Carmichael Road, on August 29.

The notice stated an inspection of premises located east of Bacardi Road at the rear of Alpha Omega Church had revealed a 20 ft by 24 ft masonry structure had been constructed without an approved building permit.

Mr Petifree was given 28 days to pull down and remove the structure, or the minister would remove it and recover the expenses incurred from him, in accordance with the Building Regulations Act.

In an email to the government yesterday, Mr Smith wrote: “Given that the revised August 2018 notices have been served in relation to structures that were already the subject of the July 2018 notices, we infer that you accept that the July 2018 notices were unlawful and of no effect.

“Moreover,” Mr Smith continued, “we remind you of the terms of the interlocutory injunction of Mrs Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson, namely that pending the determination of this action the respondents ‘be and are hereby restrained directly or through their agents, appointees or employees from taking possession of, demolishing any building on, or otherwise interfering with the 177 applicants’ and other residents’ and occupiers’ enjoyment of land in shanty towns in New Providence, including by disconnecting any utilities other than pursuant to the relevant enabling legislation.’”

Mr Smith wrote: “The revised August 2018 notices, and the threat they contain to demolish buildings upon the land in issue in these proceedings, are plainly in direct breach of this injunction.”

Mr Smith asked for a confirmation the revised August notices would be withdrawn and no action taken; no further notices would be issued pending the determination of the judicial review; and for the government to accept that a notice under the Buildings Regulation Act is not a valid means to take possession of land.

Mr Smith set a deadline of 4pm on Friday, or his clients will seek to apply for a further injunction, permission to amend their judicial review application, and a motion to have respondents cited for contempt of court.

In his email yesterday, before Mr Bethel’s statement was released, Mr Smith noted the government had not yet submitted a notice of appointment or appearance by Mr Tynes or Mr Adams.

Comments

mandela 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Get on with this exercise A.G. don't slunk, let this be, even if its the only one, the one you got right,

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DDK 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Do we even get to know WHAT difference of legal opinion on which strategy to take in Government's rebuttal to legal action filed over the removal of shanty towns caused these hired attorneys to walk away?

Come on A.G., whose country is this and who runs it?

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BahamaPundit 2 weeks, 4 days ago

FNM needs to take some serious Viagra. They coming across as weak, beaten potcakes slunking in the gutters of Nassau for chicken bone. Everything they do is built of straw and blown down as soon as they erect it!

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bogart 2 weeks, 3 days ago

Is dis what the increased from 7.5% VAT taxes and now increased to 12% VAT TAXES on the backs of pore people going to pay for.....????...the govt people who didnt do there job and allowed shantytowns to be built on other people land they clearly didnt have land papers for...should be fired for causing all this problems.....or jailed....or their homes be given to the shantytown people....as they should not have been earning a paycheck for illegal action.....

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TalRussell 2 weeks, 3 days ago

What does says when not one but two most learned in the law according to the best of legal skill and understanding pricey Comrade King's Counsels - does shuns Bahamaland's lead horse hair wig wearing legal counsel

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geostorm 2 weeks, 3 days ago

It's about time that the government gets serious about this case. We are a sovereign nation and should not allow this type of nonsense to take place. Bahamians are not allowed to do it and neither should anyone else. Ok AG, now win this case.

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licks2 2 weeks, 3 days ago

ONE OF THEM WANT TO "GEE-IN" A BIT. . .THE OTHER WANT THEM GONE NOW. . .

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John 2 weeks, 3 days ago

All these missteps and fails by the Minnis led FNM shows that they came into office behind by the wrong set of people. Despite they, themselves having little or no experience. And then they ingnored advice from knowledgeable and experienced persons who were willing to offer guidance. They have a financial retard in the Ministry of Finance, who is trying to micromanage everything and requiring the duties and other established government departments to have his seal of approval like he has more powers than the prime minister. The Bahamian people want it to be ‘The People’s Time.’ They want this FNM Government to succeed. They are battle wary and financially burnt out. They don’t want helicopters flying over their bed at 3 in the morning claiming to be looking for weed, ok marijuana, when there are more pressing crime issues. Minnis must change the perception that he is mean and stingy when it comes to dealing with Bahamians but more accommodating to foreigners.

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HumanIntelligence 2 weeks, 3 days ago

How much more of this Circus Governing are the Bahamian people going to take. No human should be deprived of any essentials to live on this planet. No human is pressing the go button to keep us all alive. There is too much of everything on this planet. Why are we arguing as to human sustenance? Bahamians need to set a real example to the rest of our global neighbours. Build a proper community for these refugees. Rebuild our Bahamian neighbourhoods that have been neglected for DECADES. Pave Soldier Rd from Wulf Rd to Prince Charles. Clean up all this garbage through out the Bahamas. Fix all roads for that matter. Locate $10,000,000 to the hundreds of persons without power in their homes, not enough food for the entire family, those in need of special medical attention etc Human Life has more value than buildings. Numbers are INFINITE there is no FINANCIAL DEBT. YOU CAN CREATE DEBT OUT OF THIN AIR. THE GOVERNMENT NOW OWES ME $40Billion Bahamian dollars for making me believe from a child, "It's Better In The Bahamas". It has only gotten worst. We have no governing body that have truly done anything that has made a positive impact here or abroad in the past three decades now. EVERYONE CAN HAVE A BANK CARD WITH $999,999,999,999,999,999.00 See how easy it is? OR -$999,999,999,999,999,999.00 No one owns numbers. Wake up everyone, YOU'RE BEING TRICKED OUT OF LIFE. We need TIME more than Money, and TIME USES NUMBERS ALSO. EVERYTHING DOES. VAT IS A FAKE APPLICATION. VALUE ADDED. EITHER ITS OF THAT VALUE OR NOT. THE VALUE ADDED IS FAKE CAUSING REAL STRESS IN MANY CASES, DEATH. ENOUGH IS TOO MUCH. EARTH BELONGS TO EVERYONE. ONE PLANET. BE HUMAN WHILE YOU'RE HERE.

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DEDDIE 2 weeks, 3 days ago

Political opinion versus Legal opinion. The two learn gentleman don't care to play politics. The matter in my opinion should be confine to building code violation. Property ownership will take forever to resolve.

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John 2 weeks, 3 days ago

Then remember two tings. How many Bahamians did not qualify for the government low cost housing lots... not homes now but empty lots? And they were all government employees.. in that batch from the armed forces .. maybe mistaken but they were government employees. Then TOo or Two for those who like mats., them say more than half the people living in the shantytowns have some type of legal status in the country So or is it sew .. Sew if they cannot qualify for low cost lots and you kicking them out the Shantytowns without alternatives,,..Houston we have a problem. Is it Houston or Donald Trump.

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TheMadHatter 2 weeks, 3 days ago

HumanIntelligence and John - as usual on the opposite side of the tennis court from Bahamians. Why do you want to destroy the Bahamas?

"...or the minister would remove it and recover the expenses incurred from him, in accordance with the Building Regulations Act."

The government should threaten to REPEAL COMPLETELY the Building Regulations Act, if they lose this case or if the shanty towns remain.

If we can't get rid of Haitians then we should at least have the same advantages they have in our own country. Repeal the Act!!!!!!

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bogart 2 weeks, 3 days ago

Cannot repeal da Act.......the wealthy...the top echelons....da legal systen....da politicians.....have made quite an enterprize.....outta pore Bahamian people taxes....DA SYSTEN HAS BEEN USED .....FR INSTANCE...BY STOPPING THE DEATH PENALTY......TO FOSTER COUNTLESS criminal cases, appeals, freappeals...people stuck up in prison, people on bail,, wearing ankle bracelet,...various rehabilation efforts, people hired,...building up an hiring prison staff, .....people spending money............the TO DATE INABILITY.. OF CHANGING THE LANDS, PROPERTIES OF A REGISTRY TO REGISTER LAND........INSTEAD MAINTAINING TITLE SEARCHES....AND STILL CANNOT VERIFY FER CERTAIN....used to keep employed so many lawYers amd staff at Da EXPENSE OF DA PORE.............DIS FREE EDUCATION FOR ERRYBOODY CHILDE whether illegal migrants children plain illegals hopping off the boats......used against Pore Bahamians who actually should be reaping the benefits of dere country, stead of automatically sharing pore Bahamian money around.............DIS shantytown illegal business is CLEARLY ILLEGAL by the Building Regulations......but yet again ...the top echelong spemding up PORE BAHAMIAN PEOPLE...money to debate it in courts WAsting up Pore Bahamian people tax money... .....Pore Bahamian people just cant seem to win fer losing.... tings dead bad gettin worser... ...top people playing wid ya head and taxes increase to 12% to encourage more hifalutin games wid PORE BAHAMIAN people money taxes.......arguing over shantytown who clearly..... break da law.....well mudda tek sic........an even Haitian people demself gets moved out by their own govt when they do this.......!!!!.

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