Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands has been told to apologise for comments he recently made about Bahamas and Power and Light’s former board or face a defamation lawsuit.
The threat comes from attorney Alfred Sears, QC, who is acting on behalf of Darnell Osborne, Roy Dean and Nicola Thompson, the three former directors of BPL’s board who controversially departed last year.
During a radio appearance on the “Hit Back with Nahaja Black” show on July 2, Dr Sands said last year’s BPL “board drama delayed the acquisition of 100 megawatts of generation capacity” which could have mitigated BPL’s woes.
He did not specifically refer to Mrs Osborne, Mr Dean or Mrs Thompson. Ms Black, the show’s host, had said the need for additional generation capacity was known well before this summer. She then mentioned BPL Chairman Donovan Moxey’s claim that there would be no load shedding this season.
Dr Sands responded: “It is possible, I got to be very careful since this thing is now a legal issue, it is possible that had we not had that drama at BPL that this 100 megawatt of generation capacity would have been here six to eight months earlier.”
Asked again if he believes the drama delayed the generators, he said: “I will go further than saying I think...yes, the unfortunate fallout, the impact of that drama is that it delayed the acquisition of 100 megawatt generating capacity.”
Dr Sands’ comments, Mr Sears wrote in a letter on Friday, “were false and malicious” and were made with a “clear intention to deflect blame over the current BPL power crisis to our clients and to create the perception that they are the cause for the current energy crisis at BPL.”
Mr Sears said when his clients were removed from BPL’s board, “they were not and could not have been aware of the decision of BPL to purchase 100 megawatts of generation capacity.”
“Unfortunately, your comments have created the view that our clients are the cause of the current BPL crisis and this leaves a permanent damage to our clients’ reputation and further exposes them to shame, hatred and contempt from the public,” he wrote. “Our clients, as a result of your comments, have been injured and they continue to be injured by the careless and reckless comments made by you.”
Mr Sears demanded that Dr Sands cease and desist defaming his clients and provide written assurance within five days that he will stop doing so. He also demanded that the Elizabeth MP issue “a suitable retraction, correction and apology.”
“The apology should include that each and every allegation that you made or implied in relation to [my clients] and the current BPL energy crisis is false. The apology shall be drafted by our chambers in conjunction with you. Before the apology is produced or published, it shall be approved by us after we have consulted our clients. Once the apology is approved, it shall be thereafter broadcasted on Star 106.5, specifically on the ‘Hit Back’ talk show with Nahaja Black, and in all daily publications and media platforms, including but not limited to Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. It shall further be published prominently in The Tribune, The [Nassau] Guardian and other media websites, channels, papers, as agreed between us and you.”
Mr Sears gave Dr Sands until Friday to comply with his demands or face legal proceedings.
Asked about the matter yesterday, Attorney General Carl Bethel said: “The claim of defamation is, in my professional opinion, ill-founded. I have instructed Crown counsel in the office to respond. I suppose I might be sued for defamation for saying that. But that is my opinion.”