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Bermuda's 2007 June History

News and significant events for the sixth month of that year

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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online

See end of this file for all of our many History files

June 1. After watching Bermuda develop a reputation as a homophobic Island over the Rosie O’Donnell gay cruise row, one group of friends did their bit to redress the balance. Teenager Freya Lawrence and her pals dragged themselves out of bed early on Sunday morning, armed themselves with brightly coloured placards and staged an “anti-protest protest” against what they describe as ignorant bigots in Bermuda. They stood at Dockyard to welcome passengers aboard the Explorer of the Seas — a gay cruise organized in spite of the cancellation of the Rosie O’Donnell trip amid much-publicized opposition from church groups in April. According to Freya’s mother, gays and lesbians at first assumed the teenager’s group were showing their disgust at the trip. But on seeing their banners with messages such as “Come and stay, we don’t care if you’re gay” and “We are not all ignorant bigots”, the demonstration received a hearty response. Freya, 16, a Bermuda High School student, said: “We saw what people were saying about the Rosie O’Donnell gay cruise, and we didn’t want people to think all of Bermuda thought like that. “It’s a big issue and it’s about human rights. We don’t always take rights too seriously in Bermuda. People might think we’re homophobic in Bermuda and that’s really bad for tourism.” The protest, which took place for about two hours from 8 a.m., featured Freya, her friends, Carrol Wilson, 15, Natasha Kneeland, 15, and Mrs. Lawrence. Mrs. Lawrence, from Pembroke, said she had heard a man in a shop talking about the Rosie O’Donnell cruise. “There was all this hatred and venom pouring out of him. I remember feeling sorry for him,” said Mrs. Lawrence. “I thought why waste your life and energy hating a group of people who have never done anything to you and never will do? Instead of all this protesting, why don’t we welcome this cruise. I talked about it with my daughter, then forgot about it. But she brought it back up again before the cruise came and we decided to do it.” On the reaction from passengers, Mrs. Lawrence said: “There were a few mysterious looks at first and I think they thought we were protesting against them. But once they saw why we were there they thought it was great.” Mrs. Lawrence sent photographs of the demonstration to gay website PinkNews.co.uk, which has previously been inundated with comments criticizing Bermuda over the Rosie O’Donnell cruise.

June 1.  Premier Ewart Brown was one of the subjects of a two-year police investigation into allegations of corruption at the Bermuda Housing Corporation. And a host of other Government MPs — including former Premier Jennifer Smith and former Ministers Renée Webb, Nelson Bascome and Arthur Hodgson — were also investigated in the probe by fraud squad officers. But, following the conclusion of the inquiry in the summer of 2004, then-Police Commissioner Jonathan Smith conceded that many of those named in the probe could be accused of nothing but bad ethics. At the same time, then-Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Kulandra Ratneser revealed that some of those under investigation only escaped prosecution because of the island’s antiquated corruption laws. However, the Police files indicate that detectives were hoping to prosecute several key suspects under existing criminal legislation. One document, titled ‘Action Plan’, reveals that officers considered bringing Conspiracy to Defraud and Official Corruption charges against Dr. Brown contrary to Sections 393 and 111 of the Criminal Code. The investigation was launched in March 2002 after this newspaper exposed evidence of massive corruption at the BHC, the Government-funded quango set up to build affordable housing. The scandal is believed to have cost the taxpayer more than $8 million through backhanders, questionable accounting practices, fraudulent deals and inflated invoices with building contractors. The findings of the inquiry have remained largely top-secret since its conclusion in 2004. One junior BHC officer, Terence Smith, was jailed last year after being found guilty of 41 counts of fraud, but otherwise authorities have - until now - been able to keep a tight lid on the extent of the police findings and no charges have ever been brought against any MPs. However, after reviewing extensive Police files detailing the investigation the Mid-Ocean News can today reveal that several senior Government MPs were at the centre of the inquiry. The documents show that detectives believed there were “reasonable grounds to suspect” that offences involving Government Ministers occurred. The damaging dossier — consisting of thousands of pages of confidential interviews, progress reports, internal e-mails and other incriminating documents such as bank statements, many stamped ‘Confidential’ or ‘Secret’ — reveals how Fraud Squad officers, assisted by Scotland Yard detectives and US law enforcement agencies, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, uncovered a paper trail of what were thought to be under-the-table deals and backhanders leading them through the corridors of power to the highest political offices on the island. The inquiry unearthed evidence which suggested that top-ranking Government MPs, including Dr. Brown, employed tactics of manipulation and abuses of power for their own financial gain — all at the expense of the taxpayer. It also exposed close-knit personal relationships between a number of Cabinet Ministers and construction bosses who were awarded both BHC and Government contracts. Officers obtained evidence which suggested that Premier Brown, who was Transport Minister at the time of the inquiry:

Cajoled BHC boss Raymonde Dill into buying his Flatts property at an inflated price.

Did not pay a $150,000 bill for renovation work carried out by BHC on the Flatts property before it was sold.

Was in line to receive financial rewards from a business associate and construction boss Zane DeSilva who was planning to broker a deal with Government involving the shipment of asbestos to Cuba.

The documents reveal that Police also followed up rumors that Dr. Brown awarded a Government contract to Mr. DeSilva in return for “financial considerations”. And the documents reveal that they also probed allegations that Mr. DeSilva buried costs incurred in the building of Dr. Brown’s luxury mansion on A.P. Owen Road, Smith’s in a BHC housing project that he was working on at the same time. “It is unclear if Dr. Brown has direct knowledge of this, but what is clear is the house was built and paid for under FMV [Fair Market Value],” one document contained in the police files claims. Police also received reports alleging that antique cedar beams removed from the St. George’s post office were installed in Dr. Brown’s newly-built A.P. Owen Road home. Other lines of inquiry pursued by the Police that are outlined in the documents include:

The documents also list a number of allegations against a number of BHC staff, including how:

Police records show that a second arm of the inquiry focused on nine contractors alleged to have gained financially by their association with Government and the BHC. Labeled ‘The Magnificent Nine’ by detectives, the contractors include Island Construction owner Mr. DeSilva, a friend of the Premier’s who last week was tipped to run as a Progressive Labour Party candidate in a safe Government seat at the next General Election. The selection of Mr. DeSilva has been roundly condemned by grassroots party workers who accuse the Premier of hand picking personal friends ahead of dedicated and long-serving PLP members.

Detectives seized hand-written documents from Mr. DeSilva’s offices revealing that the businessman was in line to earn millions of dollars by acting as a middle man between Government and the Cuban authorities — and planned to palm off a $200,000 slice of those profits to both Dr. Brown and Mr. Bascome. The deals, involving the shipment of harmful Bermuda asbestos and other building site waste to the isolated Caribbean dictatorship, were hatched at around the time that Dr. Brown visited Cuba in an apparent drive to forge “cultural links” with the Caribbean oligarchy. Mr. DeSilva was also the contractor at the centre of allegations that “monies were mixed” from the BHC Southside project and Dr. Brown’s new A.P. Owen Road home. Mr. DeSilva was involved in both projects. In an August 2002 report summing up the allegations against Dr. Brown and Nelson Bascome, Assistant Commissioner Carlton Adams wrote: “The allegations contained in this report are serious in that they are leveled against two sitting members of Cabinet. Despite the source of the allegations (Mr. Dill, whose credibility is suspect), the allegations require clarification. This will mean broadening the investigation to examine in detail the activities of both men and others with respect to their involvement in questionable real estate transactions which were financed by quango BHC. The consequences of broadening the investigation (and there are sufficient grounds for doing so) are that Police activity will come to the notice of the public and with it potentially damaging revelations to the Government. For the present, I recommend that this information be shared with the office of the Deputy Governor alone.”

Despite the extensive investigation, former Police Commissioner Jonathan Smith, speaking after the inquiry wrapped up in June 2004, said he believed those under investigation had acted unethically rather than illegally and no charges have ever been brought against any public official. That view was backed by then-Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Kulandra Ratneser, who, while naming no names, implied that those mentioned in the inquiry had only escaped justice because of Bermuda’s outmoded fraud legislation which needed a serious upgrade. “There was no evidence in this case of any crime as we know it in Bermuda,” he said at the time. When asked by reporters if the outcome of the investigation may have been different had that legislation been updated, Mr. Ratneser replied: “Yes, the outcome could have been different.” Governor Sir John Vereker was also fully briefed on the police findings, as were his superiors in Westminster. “I have been kept fully informed about the investigation throughout,” Sir John told The Royal Gazette in August 2004 after the investigation had been wound up. “The Commissioner’s statement was made with my knowledge and approval and I think there’s very little I can usefully add. London are already aware of the outcome of the investigation. In terms of anything else going to happen, I note that the Commissioner of Police has referred the issue of the Criminal Code to the responsible Minister and I note that the Auditor General has been invited to take a further look at those behaviors which do not amount to criminality — and I hope that lessons are being learned in the appropriate places.” Despite subsequent promises by the current PLP administration, the necessary upgrades to that archaic legislation have yet to be implemented.

June 1. Finance Minister Paula Cox has pledged Government will boost efforts to share out its small contracts as she mounted a defence of the untendered award of a $1 million-a-year contract to a relative of the Premier. Controversy has raged after Bermuda Emissions Control — run by a cousin of Ewart Brown — won the sole contract for vehicle pollution testing on the Island. In an interview with The Royal Gazette, Ms Cox was asked why the public couldn’t be told what the general policy was on why a sole bid could accepted instead of inviting multiple tenders. She said: “I think the general policy would have been articulated in the answer to the parliamentary questions, but generally contracts over $50,000, usually it’s a Cabinet policy that we tend to advocate them going out to tender. If you are going to abrogate that rule there has to be for good reason — either because you are talking about specialist expertise or because there is a limited pool or only one provider for those services. Generally the rule is over $50,000 you go to tender but there is a rationale if the case is made and it’s defensible by the Cabinet to have an exception.” Asked why that emissions contract couldn’t have at least been opened up to multiple bids she said the rule could be modified on occasion because of time constraints or issues of expertise. The Finance Minister was challenged on why Financial Instructions, the rules which govern the awarding of contracts could not be made public. But she stuck to the line that it was internal Government business. “I don’t think it is appropriate that they are put out into the public domain. What is seen as important is when you have contracts and RFP’s (requests for proposals), that they go out and people have the opportunity to bid and they know what is being advertised. There is a move by Government to let people know in a timely fashion about a number of Government contracts so you have more people subscribing for them.” Ms Cox said more “relatively small contracts” of $10-$30,000 would be widely publicized, perhaps via a directory or notices in newspapers.  “We are trying to compile a listing so people are aware to make things more open and transparent.” But she was unable to say when the policy would materialize. “People sometimes don’t realize they could bid on things which we think are not sophisticated or glamorous but they are necessary — whether it’s toilet paper, soap or coffee. Things of that nature. We are looking at the tools in our remit to expand opportunities. The Minister said mortgage subsidies from the Ministry of Finance for people to buy houses might also be a tool used by Government for helping the economically disadvantaged in innovative ways. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You can look at models done elsewhere. We in Finance aren’t in the business of providing housing but we are in the business of helping manage the economy and suggesting to other ministries what they might do in bringing down the costs of issues like housing. It may be by subsidies or by providing lower interest rate mortgage help.” Concerns about the price of housing, which could fuel a brain drain or social unrest, were also being tackled by the Housing Ministry’s moves on geared-to-income housing, said Ms Cox. She said the economic empowerment zone, debuted in North Hamilton, to help developing businesses with tax breaks might be copied in the east and west of the island. But expansion to the Island’s extremities is not expected for at least six months as the starter project beds down. She said: “There is a mountain of work that remains to be done — the leveling of the playing field and creating greater opportunity. We have to look at how we can include more — the economic empowerment is just the tip of the iceberg. “We have to also look at how we can encourage greater equity ownership so we don’t just talk about the fact we want more businesses.” In their Budget Reply the Opposition put forward a policy of eliminating payroll tax for those earning less than $36,000. Asked if the PLP had anything similar she said: “No, I thought that was a good policy for an Opposition party. Our budget and policies are always sensitive to the needs and I don’t expect that will change.” But she refused to divulge if the PLP were thinking about anything similar. Ms Cox also said international businesses wanted more inclusion in policy and planning. “We want to make sure they have the opportunity to have a greater degree of dialogue and partnership.” Ms Cox said this applied not only to lobbying the US but also being available as a resource locally. “We have to not be shy to build on that.” Asked about the Premier’s plans to have a Council of Economic Advisors made up of industry leaders, local businesses and Cabinet members she said: “That is being driven by the Premier, as far as I know that is still on track. But I believe he has been busy with a number of other roles but there’s been no lessening of commitment to that.” Ms Cox was critical of Ewart Brown when he mounted his ultimately successful leadership challenge saying she couldn’t see what was new in his platform. Asked what was new now about the Dr. Brown agenda she said: “I think it’s a different style of leadership. He has ushered in a wave of change. I think he is more action orientated and impatient to see results sooner rather than later.” Asked for examples she said: “The Ministry of Finance has always been productive.”

June 1. An historic moment in the development of a global community that investigates money laundering and suspicious financial transactions has been reached in Bermuda. The Egmont Group, an informal international gathering of financial intelligence units, has come of age and become a fully-fledged formal body after an agreement was made on the Island by delegates from 92 countries and 12 international organizations. Governor Sir John Vereker, opening the 15th Plenary Session of the Egmont Group at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel, said: "The work of the group is paramount in the continuing international effort to ensure that financial investigations are carried out effectively. "It is not often that one can be sure of being present at a truly historic moment, but this really does seem to be such an occasion. After years of hard and effective work, and after the careful deliberations of the heads of financial investigation units here in Bermuda over the last few days, the Egmont Group is now about to embark on its new role as a fully-fledged international organisation with a permanent secretariat. No one could be prouder than we in Bermuda that this agreement is being reached here, and perhaps I will be permitted to say that I hope it will be called the Bermuda Charter." Because of the nature of the work and the inherent threat of danger connected with rooting out big money criminal activity, members of the various financial investigation units from 104 countries and organizations such as the World Bank were given special security during their May 28-June 1 gathering. Sir John said global capital markets and financial services had led to great prosperity for Bermuda and others, but it had also brought global threats from organized crime, money launderers, counterfeiters, drug smugglers and terrorists. "Underlying many of these threats are financial transactions, and our collective capacity to identify and investigate such transactions is one of the main instruments we can deploy to keep our communities safe and to enable them to become prosperous," he said. More than 100 countries, including Bermuda, have created national financial investigation units since 1990 to collect information on suspicious or unusual financial activity from the financial industry and other entities or professions required to report transactions suspicious of being money laundering. In 1995 the Egmont Group was formed in Brussels and one of its most important achievements was to identify essential features needed to ensure that financial investigation units (FIUs) work as they are intended. Outlining the three basic features, Sir John said: "First, their staffing and resourcing must be adequate to the task. The FIUs or agencies established under the Egmont umbrella must have the capacity to receive, collate, analyze and disseminate information in a timely manner. They are entitled to expect the support of their financial communities but they must be able to display their muscle on occasion. Second, the institutions must be established in accordance with Egmont Group best practice, that is, on a statutory basis, with a ring fenced budget and independent of political control. This basic standard will ensure that they are operationally independent, within a framework of accountability that ensures there can be no interference in their role, whether directly or through budgetary pressure." The Governor said the third requirement was for all the individual institutions to work collectively, and that sharing of information was something the Egmont Group helped to do. "The principles set out in your meeting in The Hague in 2001 are standing the test of time very well. Two weeks ago, Bermuda hosted an equally successful Customs Law Enforcement Conference, and in that context too it was recognized that only a fully joined up response to cross border threats would be fully effective," he said. "International standards are not set in concrete. They evolve with the evolution of the financial service industry, and with the evolution of threats to the stability and probity of that industry. I am pleased that the recent IMF financial sector mission to visit Bermuda, a few weeks ago, applied the latest methodology of the Financial Action Task Force. All of us, and all of our FIUs, now have to measure up to stricter standards." Sir John said that, while he is responsible for matters effecting external affairs, internal security, and therefore international co-operation on investigations of suspicious financial transactions, he needed to work side-by-side with Government ministers to ensure necessary legislation is put in place to match the standards set by the International Monetary Fund, the OCED, the Financial Action Task Force, and the Financial Services Authority in London. "I am happy to say that we are working closely together in this area, as in many others, to ensure that Bermuda will be able to take its place with confidence among the signatories to the Bermuda Charter," said Sir John.

June 1. Support for the Government is becoming polarized on racial lines under Premier Dr. Ewart Brown, according to the latest opinion polls, which show backing among black voters is up by 36 percent. An independent survey for The Royal Gazette reveals that Government is picking up 62.9 percent of the black vote, with only 9.5 percent supporting the Opposition United Bermuda Party. In contrast, among white voters only 1.6 percent favour the Progressive Labour Party, with 64.1 percent pro-UBP. The last voter survey in March revealed the Government had 46.1 percent of black voters’ confidence, and the UBP 10.5 percent. Eight percent of white voters supported the PLP and 53.6 percent the UBP. The latest opinion poll therefore suggests that Government policies are isolating white voters but appealing to the black population. Last night, former PLP Senator Calvin Smith said it would be wrong to read much into the results. Mr. Smith suggested they showed more people were simply stating their support for their own party with an election expected soon. “Ewart has probably helped to stimulate blacks, but somebody has helped to stimulate whites in the UBP as well,” he said. Mr. Smith predicted black support for the PLP would increase following the passing away of Dame Lois Browne Evans. He explained: “There will be a lot of information about what she did, through the media and talk shows, but mainly because black people are visiting relatives and friends.” The figures also reveal the PLP is widening its lead over the UBP, despite statistics which suggest the Premier’s popularity is slipping — in January, nearly 48 percent approved of him as Premier, a figure which has now fallen to 45.4 percent. If there was an election tomorrow, 38.7 percent of the population would vote for the Government and 28.3 percent the UBP. PLP support has risen another 8.6 per cent, from 30.1 percent in March, while the UBP is trailing with a gain of only 4.1 percent since its 24.2 percent rating two months ago. UBP support is now at 28.3 percent. The PLP also has the youth vote, with 45.9 percent — almost half — of 18-35-year-olds supporting the Government. In contrast, the UBP only attracts 8.1 percent of their support. A year ago this stood at 39.7 percent pro-PLP and 24.4 percent favoring the UBP. Opinion polls in March, 2007, showed 42.2 percent of under-35s backing the Government and 14.1 percent favoring the Opposition. Among 36-54-year-olds, 44.4 percent support the PLP with UBP leanings more steady at 30.5 percent. The over-55s are more supportive of the UBP, at 37.7 percent, and only 21.7 percent willing to vote PLP. Two months ago, 31.9 percent of the middle-aged favored the Government and 19.3 percent the Opposition, while 33.8 percent of the over-55s were pro-UBP and 22.8 percent pro-UBP. The figures therefore reveal that support for the UBP since Michael Dunkley became Party leader is falling. There are also signs that the population is becoming more passionate about politics — perhaps a result of the growing split along racial lines. A disturbing 18.9 percent of the younger generation are apathetic when it comes to politics, with a fifth saying they would abstain from the ballot box. That figure among the general population is a tenth, at 9.9 percent — slightly less than the 13.4 percent reported in March, suggesting the population as a whole is becoming less apathetic. Both parties declined to comment last night. The Research Innovations Poll surveyed 405 people between May 20-22 and has a margin of error of 4.9 percent.

June 1. Nomination day for the vacant Alderman and Common Councillor positions with the Corporation of Hamilton will be Thursday, June 14. Mayor of Hamilton Sutherland Madeiros called for people to put their names forward for the roles after the Corporation announced the date yesterday. The Alderman position became vacant following Mr. Madeiros’ election as Mayor last October, while the new councilor will replace Jim Butterfield, who resigned earlier this month. Nominations should be made between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 14. Should more than one nominee for each position be received, an election will be held on Thursday, June 21, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. If there is only one nominee for either post, that nominee will be appointed automatically. To be eligible to run, candidates must be a registered voter or the nominee of a registered voter within the City of Hamilton. Nomination forms and information regarding eligibility for the vacant positions are available from Corporation secretary Kelly Miller on 292-0916 or e-mail kmiller@cityhall.bm

June 1. Auditor General Larry Dennis is now in possession of police documents relating to the BHC scandal. Yesterday, the Government financial watchdog declined to say if he was now re-examining the case or if he will be making any recommendations in relation to the evidence obtained by detectives. But he did confirm to the Mid-Ocean News that he has received copies of thousands of pages of case notes and documents that the police compiled during the 2002-2004 probe.

June 2. A new executive officer has been appointed to the Human Rights Commission - after almost a year without anyone in the post. Ayo Johnson, public affairs officer at the Department of Communication and Information and a former journalist at The Royal Gazette, will take on the role on June 12. The position has been vacant since David Wilson handed his notice in last summer following a disciplinary hearing. He stepped down after Rod Attride-Stirling, then chairman of the HRC, called for jobs to be lost over its repeated failure to produce annual reports in compliance with the Human Rights Act. Mr. Johnson, who was born in Sierra Leone to a Bermudian mother, worked for six years as a print journalist before becoming a civil servant two years ago. In the past he has produced a youth television series, served as a member of the board of directors of Amnesty International Bermuda and led human rights advocacy campaigns on the Island and in the UK. Mr. Johnson, a member of the International Association of Business Communicators and the International Documentary Association, has an entrepreneurial background, having owned and managed a restaurant and a small tour operator in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and worked in independent film in New York City. He completed a Georgetown University/University of Oxford joint programme in international human rights law, holds a diploma in computer technology from New York University and is currently pursuing studies in strategic communication management with the International Association of Business Communicators and graduate studies in sustainable development with Imperial College, London. “I’m excited about the opportunity to serve in such an important institution in Bermuda,” he said. “I have met the commissioners briefly and some staff members. I know there is a lot of potential to do great things.” Four outstanding HRC annual reports were finally tabled in the House of Assembly at the end of last year.

June 4. The Premier’s warning that Government could “suspend further business” with the Governor was not an idle threat, a source close to the country’s leader claimed last night. Ewart Brown said in a television and radio broadcast that his Government would lose confidence in Sir John Vereker if the Governor did not take swift action to discover who leaked a highly confidential Police file containing allegations about Dr. Brown and other Government MPs to the media. “In that event, we will have no choice but to suspend further business with him,” warned Dr. Brown, in what is believed to be an unprecedented threat from a Bermudian Premier. His statement on Friday evening was dismissed as “posturing” and “nonsense” by two constitutional law experts at the weekend. But the insider — himself a legal expert and former parliamentarian — told The Royal Gazette yesterday: “The Ewart Brown I know does not posture. You find one instance in the entirety of his political career, particularly as Cabinet Minister, where he has threatened something or promised something that he hasn’t done. He does not cock a gun unless he is willing to pull a trigger.” The broadcast followed publication on Friday in the Mid-Ocean News — The Royal Gazette’s sister paper — of the contents of a secret Police file on an investigation into alleged corruption at Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC). The newspaper claimed Dr. Brown, former Premier Dame Jennifer Smith, Government backbenchers Renee Webb and Nelson Bascome, former PLP MPs Arthur Hodgson, Arthur Pitcher and El James and construction boss Zane DeSilva were investigated during the probe by fraud squad officers. None have ever been charged with any offence concerning BHC. Mr. James, former Bermuda Cricket Board president and national team manager, said he had never been contacted by the Police concerning BHC and described the Mid-Ocean stories as “malicious”. He said he did help some out-of-work men form a group which was awarded two BHC contracts when he was a backbencher. But he added: “I did not receive any money from it. The money went to the boys. It looks like it’s a lot of mess being stirred up pre-election to try to sway the voters. “It was a shock to see my name. I have never been contacted by the Police or by anyone. This maliciousness is really out of control. I stand on my integrity and feel maligned by such garbage.” Dr. Brown said publication of material purported to be extracted from confidential official files of a criminal investigation showed blatant malice in intent and raised profoundly serious questions about how the newspaper came into possession of documents to which only a limited number of officials had access. He said he had previously raised directly with the Governor the security of the BHC files but alleged that Sir John “did nothing to protect” him and his MPs from “character assassination”. The source said that Dr. Brown would take his dissatisfaction with the Governor “to the bridge”. “We have got a leader in the PLP who is just not going to put up with it,” he said. “He will take it to the absolute nth degree of where it needs to be taken.” He said that could mean Cabinet asking the British Government to recall Sir John or the British Government instructing the Governor to dissolve Parliament and call an election. “You can be pretty well assured that there won’t be some kind of heavy colonial hand,” he said. “I certainly don’t see the British gunboats coming up here and forcing the Premier to meet with the Governor. That’s like the 1940s. There would be diplomatic discussions.” The source said that if the public voted the Government back in after the promise of such a “showdown” it would give the PLP a clear mandate to act. Sir John said last night that Government House would not be adding to a statement made on Friday by Acting Police Commissioner Roseanda Young. She said the leak of the file appeared to be an attempt to discredit the Police and embarrass Government. A Police spokesman said yesterday that the investigation into the leak was ongoing. Mr. Bascome would not comment. Mr. Hodgson said: “There is nothing to respond to.” Dame Jennifer, Ms Webb, Mr. Pitcher and Mr. DeSilva could not be contacted. Opposition Leader Michael Dunkley will make a televised statement on the BHC issue on Wednesday evening at a time to be announced.

June 7. Concerns have been expressed over the impact of a gunpoint robbery against two US visitors, as Police remained tight-lipped about the investigation. Two masked men broke into an East End guest house in the early hours of Tuesday, threatening and beating a man and his wife before making off with cash, jewellery and a digital camera. The husband suffered fractured ribs and his wife suffered bruising to her face. Both were treated at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and flew home later that day. Police have not named or identified the guest house beyond saying it is not in St. George’s. They have put more than a dozen officers on the case and stepped up patrols, but a spokesman said yesterday no update on the manhunt was available. None of the east end guest properties contacted by this newspaper identified themselves as the target or would give the name of the venue affected. St. George’s Mayor Mariea Caisey has described herself as “speechless” over the violent attack, speculating that the likely culprits are “sick people who will do anything for their habit”. Yesterday, former Mayor and Chairman of the Department of Tourism E. Michael Jones echoed her shock, saying: “This is an absolutely horrifying and terrible incident.” He said it came at a bad time with Bermuda being in the midst of an upswing in tourist numbers, and added: “Something like this does so much harm. The tourism industry as a whole is really aghast.” Deputy Opposition Leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin said incidents of crime on the Island are “getting worse and worse,” which could only be bad for tourism. Highlighting the importance of neighbourhoods pulling together to combat crime, she said it was unfortunate Police are not identifying the venue targeted so people can take extra security steps. US Consul Margaret Pride said the US Department of State would not issue additional safety warnings to US travelers to Bermuda at this point as the gunpoint robbery is viewed as a “one off” incident. Gun crime is not mentioned on the travel section of the department’s website at travel.state.gov although it does note that Bermuda has a “moderate but growing” crime rate.

June 7. Bermuda last night edged closer towards a constitutional crisis after Public Safety Minister David Burch called on the Governor to relinquish control of the Police. Senator Burch — speaking less than a week after Premier Ewart Brown threatened to “suspend further business” with Sir John Vereker — said the Governor should hand over his constitutional responsibility for the Police “in the interests of what is best for Bermuda”. His prepared speech to the Senate marked a clear escalation in what is thought to be an unprecedented row between the elected leaders of the country and Government House. The rift was sparked last Friday by a Mid-Ocean News story which claimed that a leaked Police dossier revealed that the Premier and a handful of former Ministers were investigated by detectives probing allegations of corruption at Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC). Pro-Independence Dr. Brown claimed in a television and radio address that evening that Sir John had not done enough to secure the Police file and warned him to get to the bottom of the leak or face a revolt by Cabinet. Last night, former Premier Alex Scott warned that the situation could spiral into “a local version of what happened in then southern Rhodesia; a Unilateral Declaration of Independence”. Former Home Affairs Minister Quinton Edness claimed that giving the Government total control of the Police would create “a tremendous conflict and lead us more and more towards a dictatorship”. The Opposition last night called for a Royal Commission to investigate the handling of the BHC probe. Dr. Brown yesterday refused to answer questions about his stand-off with the Governor. The Premier also declined to go into detail about when and why he asked Sir John to secure the Police file. One legal expert said the timing of his request to the Governor was key. “We do not know when the offending papers were removed or copied from the Police files,” he said. “If that removal or copying took place prior to the Premier’s request of the Governor to secure those papers, then this fiasco has all the hallmarks of a contrived constitutional crisis.” Sen. Burch yesterday claimed Sir John was “solely responsible” for the Police. The Constitution does afford the Governor special responsibility for the Police but the Police Act 1974 states that the service is under the command of the Police Commissioner. Last night, Government House sought to clarify the position. It said in a statement that though the Governor was ultimately in charge of all business relating to the Police, many responsibilities had been delegated to the relevant Minister for the last three decades. “That arrangement and the resulting close collaboration on law and order issues between elected Ministers and the Governor has stood Bermuda in good stead for some thirty years,” said the statement. Mr. Edness said giving the Minister sole control of the Police would create “serious problems” for the country. “The Police are supposed to be independent,” he said. The former United Bermuda Party Minister added that when he held the Home Affairs portfolio he had delegated powers for much of the day-to-day running of the service, with the Commissioner being responsible for handling investigations. The Governor took more of a distant overview of the service, he added. In all of the 14 British Overseas Territories, operational responsibility for the Police rests with the Governor. One former senior Police officer said yesterday: “The last thing you want is a Minister controlling operations and making decisions because the next step will be Ministers...controlling investigations. The Constitution and Police Act have been written the way they are for good reason.” Mr. Scott told The Royal Gazette he was surprised by the Premier’s warning salvo to the Governor and by Sen. Burch’s remarks yesterday. “You can press the case in many different ways before you suspend relations,” he said. “I don’t know what might have transpired to cause the Premier to take that step but from my experience when we had difficulties with the Governor we elected to take our view and position to Whitehall (i.e. the British Government). Maybe the Premier went that route and did not get the satisfaction. Knowing the constitutional order, I was surprised that the Premier chose that but he may have good reason.” Asked what could happen next, Mr. Scott, who is also pro-Independence, said: “As close as I can come is that we would have a local version of what happened in, I think, southern Rhodesia; a Unilateral Declaration of Independence.” The African country declared independence from the United Kingdom in 1965 in a move condemned as illegal by the British government, the Commonwealth and the United Nations. Mr. Edness said Dr. Brown’s threat to the Governor suggested he could be using the row to divert attention from the BHC probe or using the BHC issue as an opportunity to put the Island on “a course to Independence”. “I don’t think that that’s going to be acceptable to the people of Bermuda,” he said. “I don’t think people wish to be coerced into Independence that way. I think it will very much backfire because Bermudians aren’t stupid.” The Mid-Ocean News story claimed that Dr. Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith and former Ministers Nelson Bascome, Renée Webb and Arthur Hodgson were all investigated by fraud squad officers. None have ever been charged with any offence connected to BHC. Former Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Kulandra Ratneser said many of those investigated could only be accused of bad ethics and that some escaped prosecution due to Bermuda’s antiquated corruption laws. The BHC investigation is believed to have cost the taxpayer $8m and led to one person being jailed. Terrence Smith, a junior BHC officer, was found guilty and jailed last year on 41 counts of fraud. A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London said: “We are confident that business will continue to be conducted as usual.”

June 7. A column by Marian Sherratt,  Executive Director, Bermuda Council on Ageing. Government has just passed a bill to raise the mandatory retirement age for civil servants, and also made provision for them to be re-employed by Government without losing their pension benefits. What is behind this push to extend our eligible working years? Why would anyone want to work past the earliest possible retirement date? It is interesting to note that a fixed retirement age is legislated only in the Government sector. Within the private sector, retirement age is based on corporate or private pension fund policies. The standard retirement age of 65 is actually based on a myth. The idea came out of Europe’s heavy industrial era, and it Otto von Bismarck of Germany who proposed the world’s first old-age social insurance at age 70, beginning in 1889. It was not until 1916 that the retirement age in Germany was lowered to 65, and other countries followed suit. The myth of this retirement age is that Bismarck wasn’t giving very much away. Life expectancy in the early 1900s was approximately 46 years, depending on your class, gender, race, geographical location, and type of work. If we were to apply Bismarck’s idea now, it would be like Government and employers saying, “We promise you a pension — when you turn 100”. The German plan was based on the idea that “— those who are disabled from work by age and invalidity have a well-grounded claim to care from the state”. The key word here is disabled, and herein lies the rub. Never before have so many lived so long, and never have so many lived with so many chronic diseases (such as heart disease, diabetes, etc.). But, also, never have there been so many healthy, educated, older adults who are perfectly capable of working past the age of 65. The average life expectancy is now approximately 77, and you need only read the inside back page of this newspaper to know that we are living into our 80s, 90s, and even 100s. In fact, the population of those over 80 is the fastest growing segment of our population. This is why we call it an ageing population, and we’re not alone. Ageing populations affect every man, woman and child in Bermuda, Japan, Canada, UK, the USA, and many more countries around the world. What does this mean for you and me, and the civil servants who may be able to stay in their jobs until age 70, or those who may now be eligible to return to work for Government and not lose their pensions. I recently spoke with a gentleman in Hamilton about retirement and the high cost of living in Bermuda. “If you are having trouble paying your bills now, while you are working” I asked, “how are you going to manage on a pension?” He replied that he hadn’t thought of it that way. Hmmm— perhaps we should all start thinking about it — and soon. The baby boom generation (born 1946-1964) is just getting ready to retire. The oldest of them turn 65 in 2011. This will increase the brain drain out of our workplaces. The baby boomers carry with them knowledge, skills, experience, a strong work ethic and, very often, a strong desire to stay in employment. With the baby boom generation beginning its exodus from the workforce, where will Bermuda turn to find replacement employees? We have a “less than replacement” birth rate. Our population is only growing through immigration, most of which is on temporary work permit, and this is straining our infrastructure. At the same time, our sub-standard public education system is failing too many young people just when their skills are most needed to fill all the jobs that will soon be left vacant by retiring baby boomers. Government is beginning to take progressive steps to address the challenges ahead. Now all employers and employees must realize that business cannot, and will not, be ‘as usual’. Employers can maintain their workforces by retaining, retraining, and recruiting older workers. Employees can continue to work and pay into the system, and their savings accounts, in preparation for a lengthy retirement. This is crucial because, with longer life expectancies, if we continue to enforce retirement at 65 or even younger it can last for 30 or more very expensive years. This is reality, not myth. Marian Sherratt is Executive Director, Bermuda Council on Ageing. She writes on issues concerning ageing each fortnight in The Royal Gazette. Send email responses to info@bdaca.org.

June 8. An apparent truce between the Premier and Governor may have averted a looming constitutional crisis — but Government remained on the attack last night over the Bermuda Housing Corporation scandal. Attorney General Philip Perinchief and the Police last night sought to stop the media from publishing or airing further revelations from the Police investigation into the BHC scandal, just hours after Sen. Perinchief pledged to “protect the reputations of your public officials from further unfair attack” at a hastily called press conference just after 4 p.m. A closed hearing on the injunction application held before Chief Justice Richard Ground last night was adjourned until next week for further argument. Sen. Perinchief spoke out just a few hours after the Foreign Office in London issued a joint statement from Sir John Vereker and Dr. Ewart Brown which appeared to be aimed at defusing public concern about an escalating row between the pair. Dr. Brown warned the Governor in a televised address last Friday that Government would “suspend further business” with him if he did not ensure the source of a leaked Police dossier on a corruption probe into BHC was tracked down. Yesterday’s statement said Scotland Yard was being brought in to investigate the leak and that the Premier had assured Sir John, who retires in October, his Government would continue to work with him. Attempts to uncover the mole have already led to a raid by Police at Bermuda Broadcasting Company and a visit by senior officers to the offices of the Mid-Ocean News, sister paper of The Royal Gazette. Justice Minister Sen. Perinchief told the media yesterday: “My chambers will employ all legal means to stop the Mid-Ocean News and any other publication from printing or speaking additional content from the stolen investigative documents. It is clearly dangerous to allow exonerated persons to have their names unfairly soiled and sullied.” He added: “I am hopeful our means to stop irresponsible reporting will be successful.” The Attorney General, who would not answer questions from reporters after giving his statement, said Government planned to complain to the Broadcasting Commission about a television address made by Opposition Leader Michael Dunkley on the BHC stories on Wednesday evening, which he said was too long and included “prohibited” words. Mr. Dunkley had said the public had a right to know the full extent to which senior Government members were involved in the scandal and whether the BHC investigation was properly handled. Sen. Perinchief said: “The Opposition Leader characterized our system of law and order as inept, staffed by people who he thinks are incompetent. Why else would he say he questions the effectiveness of our criminal justice system? Why else would he ask questions investigators have already answered? Why else would he call for a Royal Commission to re-investigate a five year-old case? I am offended and I expect hundreds of our country’s police officers, prosecutors, and judges are likewise offended.” The statement from the Governor and Premier said the two men met on Wednesday evening, at Sir John’s request, to share their concerns about the possible damage to the Island arising from the leak. “The Governor assured the Premier, as he had done in a letter at the beginning of the week, that he deplored any unauthorized disclosure of correspondence between the Police Service and the Director of Public Prosecutions, and that an investigation would be pursued diligently. The Governor has advised the Commissioner of Police to seek outside assistance from Scotland Yard. The Premier assured the Governor that he and his Government intended to continue to collaborate with Government House, in the best interests of Bermuda, in accordance with their oaths of Ministerial office. The Governor and the Premier took the opportunity to reaffirm their joint commitment to working with the Bermuda Police Service in accordance with their respective responsibilities.” Earlier in the day, the Premier attempted to dampen down claims of a looming constitutional crisis with a promise that his row with the Governor would soon be settled. He told reporters in Hamilton - including a journalist from The Times in London — that the problems were “growing pains in a colonial environment”. He said: “It won’t be long before this will be resolved and it won’t be all that exciting.” Asked to address specific allegations relating to BHC, Dr. Brown replied: “No. This matter is being handled for the Government by the Attorney General.” He described Mr. Dunkley’s comments on TV as “ridiculous and absurd”. Dr. Brown was asked what he thought of international press interest in his stand-off with the Governor. “I think that to a certain extent it’s sensationalized,” he replied. “But, you know, Bermuda is a popular place and people, they hear of things happening here, (they) react to it.”

June 8. An archaeological dig kicks off tomorrow with the aim of discovering more about life in bygone Bermuda. The National Trust’s Archaeology Committee is heading the project at the Verdmont historic house in Smith’s. A number of Bermudian students and volunteers will work on the dig, which is the second to be carried out at Verdmont. Richard Lowry of the committee said: “As archaeologists we are interested in the social as well as architectural history of Verdmont, using artifacts to tell the story of all the people who lived and worked at the site, not just the people in history books. Last year we were astonished at the wealth of archaeology we uncovered from a small number of test pits. These included intact 19th century bottles, 18th century ceramics, a wide variety of animal bones and even an iron cauldron. These finds are very helpful in piecing together what people ate and how they lived. Based on the artifacts recovered from these test pits we are now able to target specific areas, which we hope will further our knowledge about the people who lived and worked at Verdmont.”  Members of the public are invited to visit the dig, which runs until the end of the month. Anyone wishing to volunteer can contact the National Trust on 236-6483 or palmetto@bnt.bm. Daily updates on the dig will be posted at the website verdmontarchaeology.blogspot.com. 

June 8. Bermuda sailor and official Peter Shrubb has just been named an umpire for the finals of the America’s Cup due to start later this month off Valencia, Spain. Shrubb, who has been putting in a lot of time officiating international regattas around the world including being the chief umpire last year for the Women’s World Championships in Denmark, has so far worked numerous series in the Louis Vuitton Cup. And then this week he was named as an umpire for the America’s Cup final series pitting Team New Zealand against Alinghi from the Swiss syndicate. Team New Zealand thrashed Luna Rossa 5-0 on Wednesday to win the Louis Vuitton Cup to get the opportunity to try to grab the America’s Cup back from the Swiss. Shrubb said yesterday from his apartment in Spain: ‘’It’s not bad is it? I was named (as an umpire) a couple days ago.” When he started his international career as an official, Shrubb said: “I would have never have thought about getting to this point. You know that it out there but you never think that you will make it to the finals of the America’s Cup.” Shrubb has been in Valencia since March umpiring the numerous races which all lead up to this moment. “I have been here for two months. We have had the fleet race, round robins, semi-finals and then the finals which finished this week. Now we have two weeks before the finals match starts. During that time we will do in-house training h Team New Zealand and Alinghi. They each have two boats of their own. They will sail against each other and we will umpire those races and then get debriefed each day. We get into the finer points of the rules — it all gets a bit more technical when we get to this level.” And during the America’s Cup, like other huge world sporting events, there are cameras everywhere. “They have helicopters up filming and cameras all over the place. Everyone is watching. At the end of the day you can’t hide from a mistake.” After becoming an international umpire Shrubb began working his way up the America’s Cup ladder. “There are about 100 (international umpires) in the world. Then out of that 100 they select 35 for the America’s Cup team. After that it gets narrowed down as boats are eliminated so it was narrowed down to 24 on March 23. After the semi-finals it was reduced to 11 umpires and now it is down to five umpires plus the chief umpire,” he said. And Shrubb is one of those five. “We will be on separate boats — 28-foot inflatables. We have three umpires in one boat and two in the other. Between us we will officiate the match,” he said. The weather and wind off of Valencia “is not too bad”. He said: “I suppose it is a bit like off the north shore (of Bermuda). Each race lasts for about one and half hours — about 10 miles long.” After Shrubb decided to put his heart into umpiring, he worked his way through the ranks. “You get rated by fellow umpires — we all have different strengths and weaknesses. In the end they put the best umpires together for the America’s Cup.” Bermuda Olympic sailor Peter Bromby said yesterday of Shrubb’s appointment as an umpire for the America’s Cup finals: “To help explain the magnitude of what Peter has achieved, it is the equivalent of him being asked to officiate in the World (football) Cup final. It is a big feather in his cap and it is great that this son of our soil is being recognized like this." He has been through years of training and going to different umpiring seminars and also been officiating at different events for a while now. To be chosen to do the America’s Cup final must be the greatest honour he can have from an umpiring point of view. It speaks volumes for him — he obviously earned the respect of the sailing world in terms of umpiring.” Shrubb is the Rear Commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club with responsibility for sailing. He is also presently the Bermuda J24 Match Racing champion and is an active J105 and Laser sailor. Andy Cox, commodore of the RBYC, said yesterday: “It is a very high honour for him. We have been following Peter in this (officiating) role for some time now and he obviously has been on the radar with ISAF and the America’s Cup management for some time now. “We at the RBYC are just thrilled about it. Peter was always a very good sailor. He did step back from the Committee of Management for the club to concentrate on business for a while and then he picked up the challenge of umpiring and he has got better and better. It is fabulous news.” Cox, who said he will be flying out for the duel between the Kiwis and Swiss off of Valencia starting on June 23, said: “To make it to the final is really something — Peter is obviously really well regarded now.” Only one other Bermudian has been involved with officiating in an America’s Cup. Veteran sailor Kirk Cooper was on the jury for the 1983 America’s Cup when Australia beat the Americans and finally took the cup away from Newport. Cooper was very happy by the news yesterday that Shrubb had been chosen as an umpire for the finals. “Peter has worked very hard for it and he deserves it. He is good at it and likes it. I am delighted to hear he has been appointed as an umpire. It is great for Bermuda and great for Peter.” Remembering back to those exciting times in 1983 off Newport, Rhode Island, Cooper said: “I was on the jury and I was one of five members. It was the first time they (the Americans) got defeated but it was very, very close. The American skipper of Liberty) Dennis Conner was leading on the last leg of the last race and lost it.” In the end Australia II beat Liberty 4-3 in the series. Cooper said that this was the first time that the New York Yacht Club (who held the cup) allowed a jury to take over as an international body. “And there were no Americans on that committee,” he said adding that the NYYC were persuaded that they would be better off having “us as an independent jury where we will listen to the protests and rule on it accordingly”. When Australia II won the final contest in the seven-race series, it had achieved the impossible and ended 132 years of American domination of the America’s Cup. Australian skipper John Bertrand sailed his Ben Lexcen design, featuring a radical winged keel, to victory over Conner’s Liberty, ending what had been called the longest winning streak in sport. The Cup left New York for a new home in Perth, Australia. Cooper added: “The boats they use now are giants by comparison to the old 12-metres. They are totally different.” There were scenes of jubilation on Wednesday in Valencia and New Zealand when Team New Zealand won the Louis Vuitton Cup and set up a showdown with Swiss syndicate Alinghi. The usually reserved Kiwi crew jumped into each other’s arms, whooping and cheering. The Kiwis lost the America’s Cup off Auckland in 2003 after a group of their best sailors defected to Swiss syndicate Alinghi, who brought the Cup to Europe for the first time since the original race in 1851. In New Zealand itself there was much celebrating — and a wish to get some payback. “One cup down, one to go,” said the Dominion Post newspaper, while the New Zealand Herald said “Team NZ gets chance for revenge”. The mayor of New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, Dick Hubbard, said it was ready to show its support for the America’s Cup, with screens likely to be set up for public viewing of the final series. “We hope Aucklanders show their support as it comes down to crunch time,” Hubbard said. The finals will be a best of nine races affair. 

June 8. Over the next few decades Bermuda’s temperature will steadily drop, with shorter, cooler summers and colder winters. Why? Because the Gulf Stream, which brings warm water up from the south, is changing — as a result of global warming. That’s according to renowned marine engineering geophysicist and Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI) adviser Steve Blasco who, in an exclusive interview with the Mid-Ocean News, highlighted the impact global warming and the melting glaciers and sea-ice canopy will have on the planet and Bermuda — unless each and every one of us do something now. Over the years, Mr. Blasco’s research has focused on environmental problems in the Arctic, Great Lakes and Bermuda where he is part of a team researching a rise in local sea levels. Mr. Blasco said Bermuda’s coastline will change over the next two decades as glaciers continue to melt, causing global sea levels to rise by between 20 and 25 feet. The melting sea-ice canopy and glaciers will also affect the ocean circulation by adding large volumes of fresh water, forming a “canopy” of fresh water which does not mix easily with salt water. This, he warned, will impact the Gulf Stream and ultimately impact weather on a world-wide basis. “We’re talking about this now so that we don’t wait for that to happen, but come up with ways to defeat the effects of green-house gas and slow down this process of melting and warming of the planet,” he said. Mr. Blasco said scientists were still arguing about how the change in ocean circulation will impact the planet. But what is known is that it will affect the warm Gulf Stream going north: “So the circulation system will weaken and northern Europe will cool because they won’t get all the heat (currently provided by the Gulf Stream)." Using the 2004 movie environmental disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow to illustrate what will happen, Mr. Blasco said the theory is warm water will no longer move north — allowing cold temperatures to assert themselves on the northern parts of the planet. “The scenario was sped up in the movie, of course, when in actual fact it would take quite some time,” he said. “But the movie was based on scientific theory and simply elevated the current thinking to the level of science fiction. But it gives you the idea . . . it’s not good.”  So what can Bermudians do to help slow down the process of global warming? Mr. Blasco said they could support any type of initiative through environmental groups and politics. But, he warned, it also meant reducing green-house gases/emissions by reducing the use of motorized transport, including cars. “The biggest thing people can do is drive much more efficient vehicles in terms of emission control, meaning less horsepower, to make a difference because we need to reduce green-house gases,” he said. The biggest problem when it comes to arresting current trends, he said, lies with the G-8 industrialized countries: “They are not being very proactive about the environment and are trying to convince all the other countries in the world that they need to do something sooner than later.” But there is hope. Mr. Blasco pointed out that there are various tools which can be used to remove CO2 (carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere but, unfortunately, they are hugely expensive. “I read about these instruments they came up all over the world that remove CO2 from the air, but these cost money and who will pay for them? However, I would assume that we will get to the point where everyone will want one in their backyard,” he said with a chuckle. “We have two ways to go about it . . . reduce green-house gases and develop techniques that will remove them from the air.” Since he first visited the Arctic in 1972, Mr. Blasco has noticed significant changes in that environment, mostly in terms of the temperatures which have steadily risen in the last few years. “Normally when I go up in February it’s 45 to 60 below, but on my most recent trip it was only 30 below and it wasn’t too bad at all. It’s getting warmer and in the summer we seem to be getting more rain. Normally it’s a very arid climate, but now we’re getting more precipitation.” He added that there was scientific proof that there has been a 40 per cent reduction in the Arctic sea-ice canopy in the last 50 years. “So who cares? I do because it affects the Arctic but I realize it also affects Bermuda,” he said. Mr. Blasco pointed out that the sea level in Bermuda is already rising thanks to climate change. “Sea level has been rising at a rate of 20 centimeters a century,” he stated. As the water warms, it expands: “So you take the surface of the ocean, warm it and it expands and goes up. We’re talking about the end effects of what happens when you take the canopy of ice and you melt it and you melt the glaciers. They become compounding effects.” He contradicted the idea that the melting of five million square miles of ice caps covering the earth would necessarily cause water levels to rise. “When you put an ice cube in a glass of water it displaces the water and when it melts, it doesn’t overflow your glass. Because the ice is already there, it’s already displaced. Melting the ice doesn’t displace the sea level because it doesn’t add anything — but it’s the fact the glaciers are melting now that is adding new water and causing sea levels to rise.” Mr. Blasco said it was important to find the ways and means to reduce green-house gases on a national, international, local and personal scale. And Bermudians could do their part by becoming more aware of the issues and making the necessary sacrifices to ensure the future of Bermuda for generations to come. 

June 8. Hamilton will be closed to cruise ships next year. The dramatic change will see all vessels routed to Dockyard for the 2008 season, the consequence of an industry trend towards watercraft too large for the city to support. A Government spokesperson yesterday declared the change was unavoidable: “As a result of internal scheduling and corporate decisions made by certain cruise lines serving Bermuda, Hamilton will not have a regularly calling ship for 2008. “However, this is an unintended consequence of the very real situation that the Ministry of Tourism & Transport has been emphasizing for some time. The smaller, niche ships are becoming fewer and fewer. And as the number of small ships is decreasing the level of competition is increasing — in the end it’s very difficult to attract smaller, niche cruise ships.” The announcement was met with skepticism in some circles. Both the Corporation of Hamilton and the Chamber of Commerce insisted that smaller liners could be found to fill the void. “The Corporation is of the opinion that we wish to have a cruise ship and, even if they’re not building ships the size of the ones that are on Front Street right now, there are smaller niche ships where people have a fair amount of disposable income that we would like to see enter Hamilton,” said Hamilton mayor Sutherland Madeiros. “It’s important to us. We have to disagree with Government on this point. The fact is that there aren’t any ships of the size that now come into Hamilton being built in the foreseeable future but we can look for something else. Government doesn’t think we need any cruise ships and we believe we do.” He added that the move could cause big changes to the popular Harbour Nights, held throughout the cruise season each Wednesday. “It could mean the end of Harbour Nights. It all depends on the scheduling of the cruise ships at Dockyard. At the moment a lot of the cruise ships coming in are day ships. People aren’t coming into Hamilton to shop because they want to see the island. But next year, as I understand it, there will be ships staying overnight. If necessary we will change Harbour Nights to accommodate that. Hopefully, people will be ferried into Hamilton. In which case we will have to (construct) a transportation hub to accommodate those ferries. It could be a real problem for Harbour Nights and for retailers. At the moment, you get off the ship in Hamilton and you walk across the street. You get back on when you feel like it. “If you want to use the bathroom, the ship is right there. A lot of cruise passengers tend to be older people. I’ve seen a number of wheelchairs. With (the new plan) they would have to get off the ship, on a ferry, off the ferry, back on the ferry, back on the ship. It’s not easy. It’s not convenient. I suspect passengers would like to get off in Hamilton.” Chamber of Commerce president Philip Barnett said his organisation had yet to receive official notification on plans for the 2008 season but his members were well aware that the Panamax ships now in vogue are unable to fit into Hamilton and St. George. “Not having any cruise ship in Hamilton would be a concern for the retailers and they’ve stated that fact,” he said yesterday. “It is a concern that the threat is there and for some retailers, the loss could be catastrophic.” He agreed with Mr. Madeiros that smaller vessels — especially those with a wealthy clientele — are a viable option for Hamilton. “Silversea Cruises is one. I certainly hope it’s a target company for the Government. The Chamber has always thought that niche ships that appeal to more affluent travelers are much more fitting with the overall image of Bermuda,” he said, adding that such tourists typically supported retailers through purchases of china, crystal and leather goods. According to the head of the Chamber’s Retail Division Kristi Grayston, merchants are “somewhat divided” in opinion on the financial implications of the move. “Government has made no bones about the fact that Dockyard will be the cruise ship destination for Bermuda,” she said. “I do believe that the retail community is somewhat divided. “The financial impact will be bigger for stores on Front Street, but even now cruise ships dock in Dockyard and people get on the fast ferry and travel to Hamilton. “I think it will be great for Dockyard, which has its challenges at the moment. It could create a vibrant community there with the shops and the restaurants.” 

June 9.  Zoom Airlines inaugural flight from London to Bermuda arrived at the L. F. Wade International Airport 11 minutes late yesterday. The airline carrying 149 passengers was scheduled to arrive at 4.15 p.m. but did not land until 4.26 p.m. because of a late passenger. The owners of Zoom Airlines, brothers Hugh and John Boyle and passengers were met by Junior Tourism Minister, Senator Wayne Caines; Airport general manager Aaron Adderley; Director of Civil Aviation, Ian MacIntyre; and designate Director of Civil Aviation Thomas Dunstan. Premier Ewart Brown was unable to attend because the House of Assembly was sitting. The plane was met with a double spray of water from the airport fire truck hoses about ten minutes after landing. In a statement earlier yesterday in the House of Assembly, Dr. Brown expressed his enthusiasm about the new flight. "For the first time in 40 years, travelers with have a choice in carrier when they fly direct between Bermuda and London. As Minister of Tourism and Transport, it has been my long standing commitment to the public that increased competition on air traffic routes will lead to lower fares. This has proven true with New York routes, with the Boston route, and now will also be the case for the critical link between our country and Europe." Dr. Brown went on to explain that the tourism numbers will rise as a result of this new flight. He also said that since European visitors tended to stay longer than North Americans, hotels would benefit also. Mr. Adderley also expressed his excitement about the new venture. He said more available seats meant more visitors and more business for Bermuda. Sen. Caines said this new flight was opening up the European market. Hugh and John Boyle said they were absolutely delighted to be in Bermuda. "Today is important for Bermuda's aviation history," John said. Zoom Airlines Ltd. is a UK-based sister company to Zoom Airlines Inc., the existing Canadian low-fares full-service airline which launched operations in 2002. Zoom flies Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, with space for 270 passengers, on transatlantic services and has two on-board travel classes, premium economy and economy. The current schedule has Zoom flights departing Bermuda on Tuesday evenings at 7.30 p.m. and arriving into London Gatwick at 6 a.m. on Wednesday while the Saturday evening flight from Bermuda will leave at 9.30 p.m. and arrive in London at 7.55 a.m. Sunday. Flights to Bermuda will depart London at 1 p.m. on Wednesdays and arrive in Bermuda at 4.15 p.m. while the Sunday flight leaves at 11 a.m. and arrives in Bermuda at 2.15 p.m. Tickets can be bought for as low as $149 each way.

June 9.  A replacement structure is to be erected alongside Longbird Bridge to ease traffic chaos while a five-year programme of maintenance work is carried out. Longbird Bridge has been restricted to one lane in recent weeks because its infrastructure has been deemed unsafe following damage from storms and the environment. Motorists have complained the lane closure has led to lengthy tailbacks, while the queues have also been blamed for flight delays at the nearby L. F. Wade International Airport. In a Ministerial statement in the House of Assembly yesterday, Works and Engineering Minister Dennis Lister explained why work would be carried out. “In order to continue to allow the use of the bridge by commercial, public and emergency vehicles, and so to minimize the effect of the deterioration of this bridge on the people of Bermuda, the Ministry has elected at this time to restrict the traffic over Longbird Bridge to one lane,” said Mr. Lister. “The restriction that has been put in place is a temporary measure. The Ministry has already moved on a course of action that will ensure that unrestricted two-way traffic will be active on the causeway as soon as is possible. The solution that is being pursued by the Ministry involves the erection of a replacement structure alongside Longbird Bridge that will ensure that there will be no further restrictions necessary between its erection and the completion of the Ministry’s long-term management strategy for the replacement of the existing crossing within the next five years.” Mr. Lister described the bridge, which was constructed in 1953 by the US Army Corps of Engineers, as being in a “very poor state of repair”. He said rust had caused some structural sections to lose 75 percent of their steel and that there were multiple deficiencies in the electrical system used to operate the movement of the bridge. “It is clear that due to the age of the bridge, the severely corrosive environment and storm damage, the bridge could not be maintained at full strength indefinitely,” he said. Responding last night, Shadow Works and Engineering Minister Jon Brunson said Mr. Lister had failed to mention a number of key points about the bridge. Mr. Brunson said the US Navy — which was previously responsible for the bridge — and Works and Engineering were both aware of its deterioration in 2001 or before. “Why has it taken this Government more than five years to finally begin addressing what has now become a seriously critical situation?” asked Mr. Brunson in a statement. “The fact that this Government knew about the state of the bridge since the late 1990s and has done nothing can only be described as serious negligence and a disservice to the people.” Describing the Longbird and Causeway as a “lifeline to the airport and east end of the Island”, Mr. Brunson predicted that inconvenience would be magnified when Cup Match takes place in St. George’s later this summer.

June 12. A visitor suffered facial injuries when he was assaulted by three robbers who stole his cash, jewellery and other belongings. In the latest in a string of attacks on visitors to Bermuda, the 24-year-old American was set upon by the gang as he walked along Penno’s Drive, St. George’s on Sunday, at 12.30 a.m. Police say the men initially attempted to befriend the victim, but he ran away when he grew suspicious of their behavior. They then chased after him before assaulting him and stealing his Discman, gold chain with a cross pendant and wallet containing cash and personal items. The American suffered a bruised right cheek and abrasion to his right elbow in the incident. Officers are hunting the offenders, who escaped immediately afterwards. Reacting last night, St. George’s Mayor Mariea Caisey called for Police to be stationed in the town 24 hours a day. “It’s unfortunate. This is what I’ve been saying all along. Something terrible is going to happen. We have got to get Police patrols in the Town of St. George 24 hours,” said Mayor Caisey. “We are a town. We are not just a parish, we are a living and breathing town. We have got nightclubs and restaurants. We are going to have people walking the streets at night. Our visitors have to feel as if they are safe. Anybody should be able to stroll around and feel safe.” Earlier this month, an American husband and wife needed hospital treatment after they were attacked and robbed at gunpoint by thieves who broke into their guesthouse. The man suffered broken ribs while the woman’s face was severely bruised. Police described the location of that incident as the East End but refused to be more specific — although last night Mayor Caisey insisted it did not happen in St. George’s. “This incident (Sunday morning’s) is our first for the summer. I hope it’s going to be the last,” she said. Last night, Shadow Tourism Minister David Dodwell repeated his previous call for tougher penalties against people who offend against tourists. “Clearly, I’m upset for the people who have been attacked,” said Mr. Dodwell. “You can get all the marketing in the world to bring people here, but if this sort of thing happens it just sends a horrible message back about the areas we are promoting. We need to make a crime against a visitor a crime against the economy. If you attack a visitor or burgle a visitor’s room, the penalties should be higher. It is a crime which penalizes everyone on the Island.” Crimes against tourists in recent weeks include a raid on a Southampton guesthouse and the mugging of a woman attempting to get on a bus outside the Fairmont Southampton Princess, both last month. Witnesses to the Penno’s Drive incident are urged to contact Police. One suspect is described as light-brown skinned, of medium build, with a round face and short dark hair, wearing a red shirt. Another was light skinned, slim and riding a black auxiliary cycle or motorcycle. The third was dark skinned and slim. Call Southside Police Station on 293-2222.

June 12. A bill to ensure all war veterans get pensions and benefits, regardless of race, received its second reading in the House of Assembly. The Pensions and Gratuities (War Service) Amendment Act 2007 removes the clauses which precluded some black veterans from receiving benefits after serving their country. In amending the original Pensions and Gratuities Act of 1947 it extends medical, dental and pension benefits, and doubles pensions from $400 to $800 per month. Veterans of the Second World War who served as part of the First Battalion, Caribbean Regiment and Bermuda contingent are among those who have never been adequately compensated. Local veterans who defended Bermuda during the World Wars were denied pensions and benefits as the law only provided for those veterans who served overseas. Many of these former soldiers were members of the black branch of the Island’s armed forces, known locally as Bermuda Militia Artillery. Making the second reading of the Act yesterday, Finance Minister Paula Cox said how saddened she was to read the initial reports surrounding the Bill. “I thought of Paradise Lost, and I think what we’re seeking to do today is Paradise gained,” said Ms Cox. She told the story of Drummer Joe Lemon — so named due to the colour of his skin — who served in both World Wars but who could not find employment on his return. He eventually contracted bronchial pneumonia and died after a fire broke out in the place where he was sleeping rough. The soldier was burned to death, unaware that he had been eligible for medical treatment. Ms Cox said: “His body was not recovered for several days because nobody knew he was sleeping there. He died without knowing he and his family had this opportunity.” Mr. Lemon had said: “When we came back it was like nobody appreciated what we had done. I was knocking on all the doors looking for work but nobody was interested. They just turned us away. I drove heavy trucks during the war in Italy and asked for a job as a bus driver, but nothing happened. No one was interested. Me and the guys ended up breaking rocks in the quarry instead — just like convicts, and we started drinking, things got so bad.” Ms Cox said that soldiers in the Bermuda Militia Artillery served as support staff in Italy and Egypt, once guarding 26,000 German POWs being transported to Alexandria. She said that not only did veterans play an important role in Europe but they were also crucial in the Home Guard. US President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said that “if Bermuda were to fall to the enemy, we could expect the arrival of Nazi aircraft over US shores within three hours.” Referring to the passing of Dame Lois Browne Evans, Ms Cox said: “I feel very proud and privileged to bring this Bill, especially this week because if we’re talking about campaigning for justice, this is something our fallen member, a hero and a shero, (SIC) would be proud of.” Ms Cox said the Bill meant medical costs could now be extended to both men and women, legitimate and illegitimate children. “It asks to signal how we as a Government propose to chart the way forward in doing away with the last vestiges of racism and inequality in the treatment of our war veterans,” she said. “In the sixty-two years since the end of the Second World War, veterans in Bermuda have enjoyed mixed fortunes, largely based on their race and years of service.” Praising the sacrifice to their country during the two World Wars, Ms Cox said: “They did it because it was the right thing to do — not because they were seeking hand-outs but out of duty, honour and sacrifice to their country. They made their sacrifice and their needs were not seen to have been properly met on their return. Now by action pledged by this Government, we are seeking to redress this.” A string of MPs gave their backing to the legislation before it was passed with support from both sides of the House. Progressive Labour Party MP Nelson Bascome said people would be speaking in German if it was not for the heroics of war veterans, while the Opposition’s Louise Jackson said the law would help end a “sad period in our history”. Premier Ewart Brown said that there had been an injustice in that some veterans had benefited while others had not. United Bermuda Party MP Neville Darrell said the law would help tackle the “atrocities” of what had happened to war veterans. Social Rehabilitation Minister Dale Butler said veterans had returned home from the war only to find they had to fight another battle for justice in Bermuda. The PLP’s Ottiwell Simmons, who was instrumental in bringing the law about, said he could remember when “the boys came home” at the end of the Second World War. He spoke of the bravery and courage of people who volunteered to serve for their country. “They can tell some scary stories,” said Mr. Simmons. UBP MP Trevor Moniz agreed that black veterans had suffered injustice, but said that so had other veterans who should not be forgotten. Cultural Affairs Minister Wayne Perinchief said pride had prevented veterans from begging for what should have rightly been theirs. Mr. Perinchief praised his party colleague Mr. Simmons, for working “quietly and diligently” on the legislation. Former Opposition Leader Wayne Furbert asked what the world would have been if people had not served for their countries.

June 12. MPs have approved a $2.4 million scheme to electronically tag cars, in a bid to crack down on the eight percent that are currently unlicensed. Unveiling the plans in the House of Assembly on Friday, Premier and Transport Minister Ewart Brown said the Transport Control Department loses $1.8 million a year in uncollected revenue. The new law will make it compulsory for drivers to have tiny electronic tags mounted on their windshields. These will be scanned by devices attached to utility poles and also handheld versions that will flag up untagged and therefore unlicensed cars. A court summons will be automatically issued, and any motorist removing or destroying the tag will be subject to a maximum fine of $10,000. The Opposition United Bermuda Party questioned whether the plans would turn Bermuda into a “Big Brother” state and asked how Government intends to employ the new technology on a long-term basis. Shadow Tourism Minister David Dodwell asked: “Is this an invasion of privacy? Is it Big Brother? Is that the next stage? What’s the cost? Is it a Government cost or is it going to be passed on to the consumer? How is this going to solve Bermuda’s traffic problems? There are literally no facts and figures that say this is the right thing to do.” Dismissing the criticism, Dr. Brown said the technology would help the Police fight crime and was supported by the insurance sector. “There will be a public education effort that will quite likely show Bermudians this is not Big Brother. The technology does not allow any snooping on the part of Government,” he added, comparing the critics to “the people who favored typewriters over computers — and we all know how history unfolded there.” Dr. Brown said the law would initially affect only cars, but motor bikes and auxiliary cycles would be phased in at a later date. The legislation will now go to the Senate, with the issuance of tags to Bermuda’s 22,400 cars slated to begin on July 1.

June 13. The public had a right to know the contents of a leaked Police dossier on the Bermuda Housing Corporation scandal which makes serious allegations about public figures, it was argued in Supreme Court this afternoon. Saul Froomkin, QC, is defending Bermuda Press Holdings, the publishers of The Royal Gazette and its sister paper the Mid-Ocean news against attempts by the Police Commissioner and Attorney General to gag the media from airing further revelations from the secret file. Mr. Froomkin rejected allegations made by Commissioner George Jackson and Attorney General Philip Perinchief that the report was stolen and a breach of confidence was committed when ZBM news and the Mid-Ocean News reported on it recently. However, he said, even if the file were deemed to be confidential: "There is confidential information which the public may have a right to receive and others, in particular the press, may have a right and even a duty to publish even if the information has been unlawfully obtained in flagrant breach of confidence and irrespective of the motive of the informer." The Royal Gazette has been advised not to carry details of the reports for legal reasons. This morning in court it was revealed that the dossier in question has gone missing. In an affidavit, Mr. Jackson said although copies of the top-secret documents have been recovered, the whereabouts of the original is unknown. An international investigation into the leak has been launched. In addition to Bermuda Press Holdings, the Bermuda Broadcasting Company, DeFontes Television Centre and the Bermuda Sun are also named as defendants in the court case and are contesting the injunction. Asking Chief Justice Richard Ground to gag the organizations from publishing further information from the dossier not already in the public domain, Delroy Duncan, lawyer for the Commissioner and Attorney General, argued this could undermine public confidence in the Police. He further argued that those figures put in the spotlight by the media reports have not had chance to respond to comments made about them in the Police file, it is alleged that at least two of the defendants have handled stolen goods in receiving the documents, and publication cannot be justified with the reason that it is in the public interest. "Making money is not a good enough reason. Selling papers is not good enough reason. Sensationalizing is not a good enough reason" argued Mr. Duncan.

June 13. Proposed changes to US tax laws put forward by senior members of the Democratic Party are likely to feature high on the agenda of Premier Ewart Brown and Finance Minister Paula Cox when they meet US lawmakers in Washington this week. At a Cabinet Office press conference yesterday, neither politician was giving much away when it came to likely topics of conversation. But the threat of new tax legislation that could impact on the Island's international business sector has become more real since the Democratic Party seized control of both the House of Representatives and the US Senate in mid-term elections. US Presidential hopeful Barack Obama, for example was one of three Senators who proposed legislation that seeks to recover an estimated $100 billion a year in tax revenue claimed to have been lost to overseas tax havens. Sen. Obama mentioned Bermuda when he spoke on the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act in February this year. The bill proposed that income from a trust or corporation set up by Americans in a low-tax jurisdiction should be taxed as US income. "This bill provides an initial list of offshore secrecy jurisdictions where these evidentiary presumptions will apply," Sen. Obama said. "Taxpayers with foreign financial accounts in Anguilla, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands or Dominica, for example, should be prepared to report their accounts to the Internal Revenue Service." In April, more senior Democrats were proposing a severe clampdown on what they see as tax avoidance. Senator Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, wants to raise $15 billion over the next decade by defining US business operations in more than 30 foreign tax havens as domestic operations. "We ought to shut that scam down," said Dorgan, 64. That message echoes the tone of John Kerry, who used Bermuda as a watchword for offshore tax havens during the last US presidential campaign. The Bermuda Government has stepped up its lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill since Mr. Kerry's "Bermuda bashing", with Minister Cox determined to differentiate Bermuda from more loosely-regulated jurisdictions. "Bermuda is not a brass-plate jurisdiction" is a phrase she has repeatedly used this year. Most of Bermuda's insurance and reinsurance companies do the majority of their business in the US and uncertainty over how any changes in US tax laws would affect them has been spreading since the Democrats' election victory. The question was raised by institutional investors in several companies' first-quarter earnings conference calls. Without mentioning the word "tax", Dr. Brown and Minister Cox yesterday hinted that they would be touching on the issue when they meet the likes of House Ways and Mean Committee chairman and New York Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel. "We are very fortunate to have friends like Congressman Rangel, who will do everything to make sure that our economy is not adversely affected by decisions made by the United States," the Premier said. "We'll be talking about our legislative framework and Bermuda's reputation for being a pristine regulatory environment for international business." Dr. Brown added that it was important that Bermuda did not get "lumped in" with other jurisdictions. Minister Cox said: "There are a number of issues on the burner at the moment and it's our job to make sure we do everything we can to make sure that Bermuda's position is not unduly prejudiced." The Bermuda delegation leaves today and their whirlwind 48-hour trip will entail 25 meetings with influential figures, including Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. The trip is the second such visit, facilitated by US Consul General Gregory Slayton. Mr. Slayton pointed out that the Bermuda insurance market had paid out more than $23 billion in claims since the 9-11 terror attacks and not all US lawmakers realised the importance of the Island to the US as an provider of insurance. "This is why it is so important that meetings like this take place," Mr. Slayton said. "The purpose of the trip is to provide better information to decision-makers. "We'll be meeting very important members of both parties and it will help everyone to understand the facts."

June 14. Chief Justice Richard Ground will rule on Monday on whether the media should be gagged from reporting further revelations from a leaked Police dossier on the Bermuda Housing Corporation scandal. Police Commissioner George Jackson and Attorney General Philip Perinchief launched a Supreme Court action after ZBM and the Mid-Ocean news published extracts of the documents. Their lawyer, Delroy Duncan, has argued that the report was stolen and therefore a breach of confidence committed when the reports were aired and published. He said the court action was launched because the Police fear further disclosure of "sensitive" material from the documents. The court has already heard that the whereabouts of the original documents is unknown, although copies have been recovered. The leaked dossier reportedly revealed that Premier Ewart Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith and former Ministers Renee Webb and Arthur Hodgson were all investigated by Police looking into the BHC allegations. Construction boss Zane DeSilva was another prominent person investigated as part of the probe into allegations of corruption at the BHC, the documents reportedly showed. When the investigation finished in 2004, then acting Director of Public Prosecutions Kulandra Ratneser said many of those investigated could only be accused of bad ethics. Mr. Ratneser also said some of the people investigated escaped prosecution due to Bermuda's antiquated corruption laws. Since the BHC scandal - which is believed to have cost the taxpayer $8 million - one person has been convicted. Terrence Smith, a BHC officer, was found guilty and jailed last year on 41 counts of fraud. Mr. Duncan has argued that the media should be gagged from publishing further information from the dossier not already in the public domain as this could undermine public confidence in the Police. He further argued that those figures put in the spotlight by the media reports have not had chance to respond to comments made about them in the Police file, it is alleged that at least two of the defendants have handled stolen goods in receiving the documents, and publication cannot be justified with the reason that it is in the public interest. Saul Froomkin QC, acting for the publishers of this newspaper and its sister paper the Mid-Ocean News, said there is no evidence the report was stolen, and that even if the file was confidential the public have a right to know its contents under the Bermuda Constitution which protects freedom of expression. In addition to Bermuda Press Holdings, the Bermuda Broadcasting Company, DeFontes Broadcasting and the Bermuda Sun are also named as defendants in the court case and are contesting the injunction. 

June 14. Marcus Dagan has travelled the world entertaining people with his smoky voice, seductive piano stylings, and endless repertoire of original and classic songs, but home is where the heart is, and there is no doubt that his heart is firmly in Bermuda — which is why he is so proud of the fact that his newest CD, now available in local stores, is what he calls “a real Bermuda product” — right down to the ‘Buy Bermuda’ logo on the back cover. Entitled ‘Bermuda Sessions’ and recorded at Platinum Studios, it was produced by himself, Randy Lambert and Steve and Shondell Easton. It features Mr. Lambert on guitars, and John Woolridge on keyboards. Mr. Lambert also collaborated on Mr. Dagan’s original arrangement of his song, ‘My Dreams Are Gathered Safely In’ — in the composer’s opinion, taking it to another level. The cover design features a beautiful colour photo of a Warwick beach. In one of those fortuitous, unplanned moments during a recording session, Bermudian singer Wanda Ray Willis, who was visiting from the US to perform in the Music Festival at Dockyard, happened to turn up at the studio and immediately offered to sing back-up on ‘All My Dreams Are Gathered Safely In’ in place of another backing singer who failed to show. “I knew instantly she was the one. It was like Hollywood walking into the studio — a moment of pure serendipity,” Mr. Dagan says. The idea of cutting a new CD had been in the entertainer’s mind for some time, and he wanted it to reflect his association with Bermuda, since wherever he goes he talks up the Island, as well as performing songs he has written about here. ‘All My Dreams Are Gathered Safely In’ is something Mr. Dagan has included in his repertoire for quite some time, and in talking with him it is obvious that it is particularly meaningful, so there was never any doubt that it would be included on the new album. It was when he found Just Platinum, however, and got chatting with owner/producer Steve Easton, that the decision was made to record the song. “As we began recording ‘Dreams’ the song began to change, and my website creator, Rene Ambrusch, suggested I contact Randy Lambert, who is absolutely brilliant, just amazing. As the song began to develop with the guitar, Randy suggested a little change in the chorus which added a whole new dimension to it, so now he is the co-writer of the music and the song,” Mr. Dagan says. Earlier, Mr. Easton had mentioned keyboard player John Woolridge, and when the latter returned to the Island he too became involved in recording the CD. “In 1976, when I did a concert at City Hall, my bass player was a 19-year-old kid called Wency Woolridge, who was even then one of the best bass players I have ever heard, and now I am working with his brother John, who is an absolute genius, an incredible musician,” Mr. Dagan says. So, with Mr. Woolridge on board it was decided to record three more songs, which is how the late jazz musician Bobby Scott’s song, ‘This is My Country’, came to be included on the CD. “Scott wrote ‘Taste of Honey’ and ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’, and he was my mentor, who always told me, ‘You can do better’,” Mr. Dagan says. “‘This is My Country’ was the last song he wrote before he died. I have always wanted to record it, and with Randy and John involved we took it to another level from its original ballad form. Now there is a very good chance that this new version may receive major radio/TV exposure in the US.” Interestingly, for as long as it has taken to arrive at the final version of ‘All My Dreams are Gathered Safely In’, another Dagan original, ‘Keys’, was written in just ten minutes. “It is a very unusual song featuring Alice Pratley on violin, who also plays and sings on ‘Those Were the Days’ — another song in my repertoire which has been a favorite with audiences everywhere. Alice is in London, England, but thanks to the wonders of technology we e-mailed her the music, she played the violin and sang, and sent it back. She is part of a wonderful quartet called Graffiti Classics, and was on the Norwegian Majesty, and also played in our concert on the Square in St. George’s last year,” Mr. Dagan says. While ‘Bermuda Sessions’ only has four songs on it — plus a bonus of 12 screensaver photographs of the Island taken by Mr. Dagan — it has taken quite a while to complete the CD, not least because the entertainer spends only a few days a week here, and also because he says, “Steve Easton is a perfectionist — a rare quality these days”. Despite this, and various hiccups, it has been a labour of love. I really believe in the magic of music and, when it is ready, it is ready,” Mr. Dagan says philosophically. “The coming together of all these diverse talents is amazing to me. I am so pleased that I met these people. From this pool of talent I already have a project in mind for next year.” ‘Bermuda Sessions’ will be sold at the Music Box, Sound Stage and Kathy’s Kaffee in Hamilton, and at the Cafe Latte, the Carriage House and other outlets in St. George’s.  The price is $15. Meanwhile, listeners will hear it being played on VSB AM and FM from time to time, as well as on DJ Mark Puckerin’s Sunday evening smooth jazz show on at KJAZZ 98.1. In fact, Mr. Dagan’s music is well known to VSB listeners as both Shirley Dill and Nell Bassett are avid fans, and receive many requests for his previous CDs. Mr. Dagan credits his first gig in Bermuda in 1976, as an entertainer at the then-Rum Runner restaurant on Front Street (now Café Cairo), with launching what has become an international career. “In ‘All My Dreams are Gathered Safely In’ I acknowledge my start at Rum Runners with the line, ‘Here I am back in the Island where first my voice was heard.” In fact, he has been coming “home” to Bermuda for many seasons on one or another of the Norwegian Cruise Lines ships, and was responsible for organizing several concerts on the Town Square in St. George’s featuring fellow entertainers from both the Norwegian Majesty and the Norwegian Crown as a thank-you to the Island, which the crews all love, and St. George’s in particular. Mr. Dagan is currently on the Norwegian Majesty travelling between New York and the Island until September 16.

June 15. The island’s public school system could be on the brink of meltdown where teachers operate in a climate of fear, according to a damning report by overseas experts. And the findings also hinted at wider problems in the island, including allegations of cronyism within the Civil Service and “a fear of speaking up in the Bermudian community” which “may not be restricted to the education system”. The report also charged that the Ministry of Education “seeks to implement Cabinet or Ministerial initiatives not through brokerage but either by diktat or stealth”, and that the education system has, if anything, deteriorated in the past decade. A summary of the Hopkins Review of Public Education in Bermuda was released by Government last month, along with a list of recommendations that the experts made. At the time, Premier Ewart Brown described the report as “the most meaningful and comprehensive” review of the education system ever conducted, while Education Minister Randy Horton said his Ministry would examine ways in which the recommendations could be enforced. The Mid-Ocean News has now received a complete copy of the report, which describes the Ministry’s leadership as “dysfunctional”, adding that “there is no sense of corporate leadership, of there being a senior leadership team approach to running the affairs of the Ministry”. The report, compiled by a team of six experts following an inspection of schools in March, did single out some teachers for poor performance, but added that “overbearing” civil servants, rather than classroom staff, were largely responsible for the system’s failure. Acknowledging that the findings “present a fairly bleak picture” of the school system, the report said: “The culture at senior level is properly focused on discharging Cabinet and Ministerial decisions, but this is not balanced by a sense of providing a service to the wider range of clientele — notably schools — on behalf of Government. “A major problem with this culture is that it suppresses initiative and constructive criticism alike. Some staff in the Ministry and some schools are afraid to speak up or express independent views. There are perceptions that one’s career is in jeopardy if one does not share the prevailing view. Members of the review team witnessed the overbearing approach of senior Ministry staff at a meeting with all the island’s principals, and the perceptions described above are aired by educators across the system. From the evidence of members of the public, however, fear of speaking up in the Bermudian community may not be restricted to the education system. One of Bermuda’s strengths, the cohesion of the Bermudian community, also presents a challenge when people working in the education community know and are often related to each other. Assertions of it being necessary to be black, Bermudian and from Berkeley to achieve a top job, or that senior posts in the Ministry are filled by patronage, nepotism or cronyism, indicate — whether justified or not — some disenchantment with the system. We have encountered layers of assertion and counter-assertion, but it is not clear who is professionally accountable for the quality of education in Bermuda. During the time most principals have been in post, there have been many changes of the Minister and changes in most senior posts in the Education Ministry. Professional responsibility has evaporated. The issues of responsibility and accountability must be faced if the system is to move forward. There are indications that the public education system in Bermuda, especially at post-Primary level, is on the brink of meltdown. The adverse findings of the 1996 independent Curriculum Management Audit largely apply today, and the quality of many parts of the system has declined since then. The findings of subsequent studies and consultancies have, in the main, not been revealed. Radical steps are needed if the Government is to establish the sort of purpose, direction and sense of urgency that are needed to reverse this decline.” Following a review of the report, Mr. Horton announced plans to “radically reform” the Ministry with the appointment of an interim Executive Board to address “strategic management weaknesses”. However, last night Shadow Education Minister Grant Gibbons said the focus of any reform needed to be more widespread than one single Ministry. “I think there is a much greater climate of fear and intimidation which has increased in recent years — people are generally more scared of speaking out,” he said. “Government has actively contributed to this problem — I think it all began when then-Premier Jennifer Smith used the phrase ‘at your peril’ More recently we have become familiar with cases of individuals being targeted, for example the doctor who lost her job for speaking out over the closure of the Medical Centre, and the construction manager who was drummed off the island. It seems people are being targeted more and more. We need a mechanism to allow people to address wrongdoing, whether it’s in the Civil Service or the Ministry of Education. We have talked about bringing in whistleblower legislation to protect those who are aware of any wrongdoing and that’s something that the Auditor General has also recommended. While fear can be a motivator it is certainly not the best way to get the best out of people. Fear and intimidation are clearly very destructive. We need to work in a climate of co-operation and Government should be encouraging inclusion rather than exclusion. It doesn’t matter if that’s in schools, of the Ministry of Education or the Civil Service as a whole.” Dr. Gibbons also echoed concerns that civil servants were being promoted because of their political sympathies rather than abilities. “I am very concerned that the Civil Service is becoming much more politicized,” he said. “It is clearly the job of the Civil Service to serve whichever political party is in power and should be neutral. I certainly think that has changed in the last few years and that has made life much more difficult for our civil servants.”

2007. June 16. An updated Parliamentary Register has been published and the public is being urged to double check that the information is correct. The Parliamentary Registers can be seen at the Parliamentary Registry Office, all Government Post Offices, all Police Stations, the Bermuda Library, Magistrates' Court and the Department of Communication and Information. The public can also check their details online at elections.gov.bm. If changes need to be made forms can be downloaded and either mailed, faxed or hand delivered to the Parliamentary Registry Office at the Valerie T. Scott building on 60 Reid Street. Parliamentary Registrar Randy Scott said: "As with all age groups, we are reminding them that their opinion doesn't count unless they are registered to vote. However, we consider 18 and 19-year-olds to be a very important voting segment and we are challenging them to do their part and get registered." For more information call the Parliamentary Registry Office at 297 -7738 or 293-8683 or elections.gov.bm.

June 16. Premier Ewart Brown was yesterday named as one of 23 physicians who will take on patients from the doomed Medical Clinic. Dr. Brown — medical director of Bermuda Healthcare — has repeatedly faced accusations of a conflict of interest since announcing the closure of the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital facility in his Throne Speech last November. In the House of Assembly yesterday, new Health Minister Michael Scott made a Ministerial statement announcing his early plans for a string of issues he aims to tackle. Talking about the controversial closure of the clinic, scheduled before the end of the month, Mr. Scott revealed the Premier was among a list of private physicians to whom patients will now be assigned. The list also contains a number of doctors who have worked at the Medical Clinic, including Dr. Stanley James, Dr. Ronald Lightbourne and Dr. Samantha Price. The Medical Clinic provides care to vulnerable people including the homeless, elderly and mentally ill. However, Dr. Brown claims its patients suffer from a lack of dignity. In March this year, his motivations for closing the clinic were called into question by Opposition MP Trevor Moniz, who pointed to the Premier’s plans to convert the historic Winterhaven building, in Smith’s, into a healthcare clinic. Last night, Shadow Health Minister Louise Jackson said: “It’s a conflict of interest, which is what people have been saying from the beginning.” She added: “He’s not even a practicing physician any more, so that’s one you can strike off the list anyway.” The Shadow Minister said there were serious issues with disabled access on many of the surgeries on the list. Mr. Scott said private physicians would get $47 per visit, of which $42 would come from the Government Health Insurance Plan (HIP) and $5 from the patient. The new Minister also spoke about the opening of the new Child and Adolescent Services facility at Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute. He said it was a “dream come true” facility which would provide mental health assessments and treatment to young people with emotional, behavioral, developmental, psychiatric or family issues. Youngsters will be able to receive help.

June 16. Form filling at the Airport will be slashed while authorities will be better able to keep out undesirables when a new passenger monitoring system goes live in December. Yesterday MPs passed an act allowing passenger lists to be e-mailed to Bermuda once a plane or boat begins its journey here. Labour and Immigration Minister Derrick Burgess said it would give Customs, Police and Immigration more time to prepare to deal with people on the high risk list, stop list or look out list. And he said the mailed lists would help to speed the processing of inbound and outward bound passengers. From December, returning Bermudians will not have to fill in an arrival cards while no one will have to fill out a departure card however non-Bermudians will still have to fill in an arrival card. Under international law the change required a special act which prompted yesterday's passing of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act (No. 2) 2007. Mr. Burgess said the confidentiality of the information, obtained by swiping a passport, would be kept by Immigration. He said: "Currently employers from time to time call Immigration and ask whether a staff member who's called in sick has left the Island. We don't release that information, neither will we in future." He said all information acquired by Immigration was kept confidential.

June 16. A bill to merge Bermuda’s fire services was passed yesterday with all-party support. Community and Cultural Affairs Minister Wayne Perinchief said a review by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate and by Government’s own Management Services had recommended it would improve efficiency by having everything under one command structure, to be known as the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service. He said all airport firefighters had signed up to the amalgamated service, which also brings in the St. George’s volunteer service, and that the new structure had begun earlier this year. While expressing support for the general concept, United Bermuda Party leader Michael Dunkley said the proper procedure was to pass legislation then make changes rather than the other way around. He urged Government to exercise fiscal restraint with the newly enlarged service. Opposition Labour and Immigration Minister Trevor Moniz voiced fears about St. George’s coverage, given the reoccurring mechanical problems on Longbird Bridge and the Swing Bridge — a situation all the more worrying given that both Shell and Esso had fuel storage in the East End. He also raised concerns about an airport fire truck worth nearly $400,000 which was wrecked in a training exercise and called for the new fire service to release annual reports to Parliament, just like the Police. Mr. Perinchief said the insurance company had picked up the cost for the wrecked truck. Under the Fire Services Amendment Act 2007, the Chief Fire Officer will be able to delegate to other fire officers “any of the powers, duties and functions of the Chief Fire Officer”. This excludes the power to make Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service General Orders. Under the Act, any fire engines, assets or firefighting equipment belonging to the Corporation of St. George’s will be transferred to the Government. The St. George’s Fire Brigade is now incorporated into the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service. The Fire Services Amendment Act 2007 establishes the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service as a Government Department — replacing the Fire Services Department. As well as the new name, the Service gains more responsibility. The purpose of the Bill is stated as: “to make the Service responsible for the provision of fire and rescue services for the whole of Bermuda, including the Airport and St. George’s, where services are presently provided separately”. The General Manager of Bermuda’s airport is also represented on the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service Advisory Board. 

June 16. A local drug addiction counselor wants to see more drug recovery programmes designed specifically with Bermuda in mind. Ken Matthew, who runs the Trust Recovery Centre, said that living in Bermuda presents its own unique challenges for people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. "There are drug recovery programmes here, but we need a drug programme put together specifically for Bermuda," he said. "I think we can do that. I think we can be very effective in doing that." He said that one difference for someone recovering in the United States, and recovering in Bermuda was the ability to get away from old haunts and cronies. "In the United States, someone in one county can move to another county, or to another town. It is not that easy in Bermuda. Most recovery programmes teach things like not hanging around the same places, people and things, but how do you do that in Bermuda? You can move from Somerset to St. George's and people still know you. So we have to teach and empower people to get around situations like that. Being straight with people in recovery helps a lot." One of Mr. Matthew's concerns has always been housing for recovering drug addicts. He said not all people with addictions have somewhere to stay once they come out of treatment, and many return to dysfunctional families. When Trust Recovery first opened in 2003, Mr. Matthew looked at opening a recovery house, but found it very difficult because of the real estate situation in Bermuda. Mr. Matthew himself is a recovering drug addict. He said his own recovery process did not necessarily start in Bermuda, but overseas. He returned to Bermuda in 1999, and started Trust Recovery a few years later. Then Trust Recovery took a brief hiatus when Mr. Matthew went back to school in the United States. In Pennsylvania he became a certified allied addictions practitioner, a prevention specialist and certified by the Pennsylvania Certification Board. Trust Recovery offers classes every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. for people in drug recovery of all ages. They are located in the Physical Abuse Centre off of Underhill Crescent in Pembroke across from Arnold's Supermarket. For more information about Trust Recovery, telephone 292-7692 or 336-5155.

June 18. Chief Justice Richard Ground has ruled that the media should not be gagged from reporting further revelations from a leaked Police dossier on the Bermuda Housing Corporation scandal. Making his ruling this morning, Mr. Justice Ground said that having weighed up the balance between the media's constitutional right to inform the public about serious allegations concerning important public figures and the need to protect the confidentiality of the Police investigation, the balance comes down firmly against restraining the media. However, he granted an application from the plaintiffs for his judgment to be appealed tomorrow morning in the Court of Appeal. In the interim period, Bermuda's broadcasting organizations and the Bermuda Sun have been ordered by the Chief Justice not to report any further revelations from the dossier. The Mid-Ocean News and The Royal Gazette have agreed to extend a previous undertaking made not to publish further material until the legal proceedings are resolved. Police Commissioner George Jackson and Attorney General Philip Perinchief launched Supreme Court action after ZBM and the Mid-Ocean news published extracts of the documents. Their lawyer, Delroy Duncan, argued in court last week that the dossier was stolen and therefore a breach of confidence was committed when the news reports were aired and published. He said the court action was launched because the Police fear further disclosure of sensitive material from the documents although the nature of the un-reported sections of the file was not revealed in court. Mr. Justice Ground also heard that the whereabouts of the original documents is unknown, although copies have been recovered. Two arrests have been made by Police investigating how the media obtained the file. The leaked dossier reportedly revealed that Premier Ewart Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith and former Ministers Renee Webb and Arthur Hodgson were all investigated by Police looking into the BHC allegations. Construction boss Zane DeSilva was another prominent person investigated as part of the probe into allegations of corruption at the BHC, the documents reportedly showed. When the investigation finished in 2004, then acting Director of Public Prosecutions Kulandra Ratneser said many of those investigated could only be accused of bad ethics. Mr. Ratneser also said some of the people investigated escaped prosecution due to Bermuda's antiquated corruption laws. Since the BHC scandal which is believed to have cost the taxpayer $8 million one person has been convicted. Terrence Smith, a BHC officer, was found guilty and jailed last year on 41 counts of fraud. Mr. Duncan argued that the media should be gagged from publishing further information from the dossier not already in the public domain as it could undermine public confidence in the Police. He further argued that those figures put in the spotlight by the media reports have not had chance to respond to comments made about them in the Police file, it is alleged that at least two of the defendants have handled stolen goods in receiving the documents, and publication cannot be justified with the reason that it is in the public interest. Saul Froomkin QC, acting for the publishers of this newspaper and its sister paper the Mid-Ocean News, said there is no evidence the report was stolen, and that even if the file was confidential the public have a right to know its contents under the Bermuda Constitution which protects freedom of expression. "There is confidential information which the public may have a right to receive and others, in particular the press, may have a right and even a duty to publish even if the information has been unlawfully obtained in flagrant breach of confidence and irrespective of the motive of the informer" he said last week. In addition to Bermuda Press Holdings, the Bermuda Broadcasting Company, DeFontes Broadcasting and the Bermuda Sun were also named as defendants in the court case and contested the injunction.

June 18. Premier Ewart Brown could have been forgiven for throwing things at the television in frustration last night as Tiger Woods once again lost out for the second major running to a much lower-profile golfer. Argentine Angel Cabrera qualified for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf — to be held in Bermuda in October — by winning the US Open at the notoriously treacherous Oakmont Country Club yesterday, winning by a mere shot from the world number one and fellow American Jim Furyk. In both major championships so far this year — the Masters and now the US Open — Woods has finished second. At the Masters in April, the most famous player in golf lost out in the race for the green jacket to the relatively unknown Zach Johnson. He now has two more opportunities — at the British Open in July and the PGA Championship in August — to qualify for the Grand Slam, a two-day strokeplay tournament held at the end of the season featuring the year’s four major winners. The Grand Slam is being used by the Department of Tourism primarily as a marketing tool, with the benefits of Woods’ presence obvious to all involved with event, which is to be staged at the Mid-Ocean Club. “Obviously, I’m pleased to see such a talented golfer win his first ever major championship, but it’s no secret that I was pulling for Tiger Woods at the Masters and I was pulling for him again at the US Open,” Brown said yesterday. “So I’m a little disappointed, yet still optimistic because there are two tournaments down, two to go. I got an e-mail from (Opposition Leader and golf enthusiast) Michael Dunkley saying that he was watching all afternoon, and like me, he had his fingers crossed for Tiger. We both understand that adding Tiger to the scorecard would put Bermuda’s tourism product on the international stage in way like we’ve never seen before.” 

June 18. A charity who was ‘named and shamed’ in a Senate report last week, has hit back at claims they have failed to keep their accounts in order. Age Concern, which is an organization working for the rights of the elderly, was listed as one of the 149 charities that filed their accounts six months late. But yesterday, Claudette Fleming, executive director of Age Concern explained that any delay in the filing of their accounts was due to the added measure of having it approved by their Annual General Meeting (AGM). She said: “It is important for the Bermuda public and the Government to know that Age Concern is in compliance with the Charities Act 1978. “Age Concern’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) had been scheduled to be held on Tuesday, June 5 the same day that Bermuda observed a national holiday to honour Dame Lois Browne Evans. As corporate Bermuda will be aware, the AGM is the organization's opportunity to approve the audited financial statements.” The list of ‘delinquent’ organizations was provided by Sen. Wayne Caines, Junior Minister for Labour and Immigration, in response to a Parliamentary Question by Sen. Gina Spence Farmer, Shadow Minister for Community and Cultural Affairs. Sen. Spence Farmer had asked for the names of registered charities which had failed to submit accounts to the Registrar General within six months and one year of their last financial year, as required by The Charities Act 1978. And the report revealed that 98 organizations failed to submit their accounts within a year, with 149 failing to do so within six months of the fiscal year end. Under Government moves, those charities who now fail to submit their annual accounts on time could have their status revoked. However, Mrs. Fleming feels Age Concern should not be penalized for the added measures they take to ensure proper accounting. She added: “Age Concern has taken this additional step in the interest of good corporate governance a measure which we believe donors and supporters will value. Without this additional step, Age Concern’s financials would have been submitted to the Government well before now. The 2006 accounts have been prepared and approved by our board. They will be adopted at our July 5 annual general meeting and immediately thereafter, will be on their way to the Register General.” 

June 18. A Special Development Order was granted for a 220-suite hotel to be built — very close to the proposed Southlands development. The Grand Atlantic Resort and Residences will be built in Warwick on the plot of land which currently holds derelict buildings, green space and an area zoned ‘woodlands’. The SDO was made public last week and the Opposition spokesman for Environment, Cole Simons, said it was another example of the Government’s “fast-tack decision-making” and branded it “anti-democratic”. He added that it showed the Government was not able to work within its own framework, the Bermuda Development Plan. The hotel built on the 13.1 acre Warwick site on South Road. To the east of its border is Astwood Walk and the Warwick gas station, the plot stretches westward just beyond the bend in South Road where it junctions with Dunscombe Road. According to the plans, the hotel will rise nine storeys with 220 rooms offering a maximum total of 706 beds, including a six-bedroom penthouse suite. There will also be two five-storey high blocks of 20 two-bedroom fractional ownership apartments, five three-bedroom villas, 20 three-bedroom units in two-storey blocks and 22 two-bedroom and ten one-bedroom units. Also foreseen is a twin two-storey retail area on an approach road to the hotel and resort. There will also be terrace and dining room restaurants, a beach bar and grill terrace, lounge bar, ballroom, swimming pool, spa, fitness centre and roof top tennis courts. The SDO, which was in Thursday’s official Gazette, said that the owners — Atlantic Development — would have to provide training for three years to at least 50 percent of its Bermudian employees. It also stipulates that before a building permit is granted the Development Applications Board have to approve the external appearance and landscaping. The Chief Environmental Health Officer will also have to sign off on all sewage treatment and disposal as well as plans for the collection and distribution of rainwater. But Opposition MP Cole Simons said he was concerned that another SDO was being granted for hotel development. He said: “Its decision to grant an SDO to Grand Atlantic Resort and Residences owes more to its push to project a ‘can do’ image than to sound, people-based planning and respect for public input. “The go-ahead for the development of the 13-acre Golden Hind site, along with the impending SDO for the nearby Southland’s, will effectively wipe out the last large green space in Warwick. The PLP Government’s reliance on SDOs is anti-democratic, and an admission that it is unable to work within a system that was designed to ensure people have a role in decisions about the future of the island.” He added that there does not appear to be an overall plan for development in Bermuda. “There is, moreover, a frightening lack of foresight at work - a lack of overall planning discipline - that prevents the country from making smart decisions about how our disappearing open spaces should be best used. The most glaring breakdown in the system is the PLP failure to update the Bermuda Development Plan, leaving us to face the current wave of hyper-development with a plan that was put together more than 15 years ago. A spokeswoman for the Bermuda National Trust said it applauded the discussion to build on a site which has previously been used as opposed to untouched land. But, she added: “It would have been an additional benefit if the SDO had clearly delineated and protected the Conservation Areas (an area that contains important natural features within which development is precluded or controlled), within this parcel of land, so that the development does not encroach onto them.”

In the last decade 16 Special Development Orders have been made

June 18.  A National Policy on Disabilities was applauded by members of Parliament on Friday, but the Opposition now wants words put into action. Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs, Wayne Perinchief, presented the National Policy to the House of Assembly to cross-party support. He said it aimed “to ensure that disabled persons have every opportunity to reach their individual potential and to see the removal of barriers that prevent their full participation in Bermudian society”. Mr. Perinchief classed a disability as a long-term health condition lasting more than six months, which can include physical, emotional or learning difficulties. According to the 2000 Census, disability affects 3,000 residents on the Island — five percent of the population. Almost a quarter — 23 percent — of 16 to 64-year-olds reported back or spine problems, while 33 percent of seniors suffered from arthritis. Among 200 people with a learning disability, 118 were cared for by relatives — many of whom were over 60-years-old. Mr. Perinchief said: “These statistics speak volumes about the magnitude and impact of disability on people in our community — from disabled persons themselves, to their friends, family and support networks.” He said the National Policy was the result of action by then Minister of Health and Family Services Patrice Minors, who appointed a Committee to address the issue in January 2005. The committee was formed to develop a National Policy, by setting down guiding principles; objectives in access, housing, health, education, transport, communication and training; overall goals and objectives. Technical officers from the National Office for Seniors and the Physically Challenged assisted in drafting policy, and the team reviewed legislation not only from Bermuda, but from other countries around the world. Mr. Perinchief said: “The report indicates that, in Bermuda, people with disabilities are subject to violations of their human rights, a lack of understanding of their abilities and incomplete or non-existent accommodations required to participate fully in everyday life.” He said parents of disabled children felt their children’s needs were not being “accurately identified and consistently met” within the education system, while qualified people remained unemployed through discrimination. Mr. Perinchief added: “Existing planning legislation is violated when inaccessible buildings exist and inaccessible renovations and new construction continue to occur across Bermuda. As a result, people with disabilities have to change healthcare providers, transportation routes to work, and have limited access to buildings in general and recreational and sporting events.” The report also concluded that “stigma regarding mental illness continues to inhibit people from getting necessary medical intervention, educational or employment accommodations, and housing and financial assistance that would promote success at home, work and in the community”. People with hearing problems also had no access to local television news, due to a lack of closed captioning. For these reasons, he said, the National Policy on Disability would look to effect changes across all aspects of society. Mr. Perinchief said the committee identified 155 objectives based on the principles of equal opportunity, accountability, and mutual respect. He stressed the need for more public awareness; greater access to buildings and transport; and more inclusion by employers. “Bermuda must aim to become a barrier-free community,” he said. “Each and everyone of us could become disabled tomorrow, and each and every one of us will age. It is extremely likely that many of us will experience a disabling condition in our lives, particularly as we get older. Therefore, this policy is personal to each of us. Government can provide a framework for action, but we will still need the community to embrace it and commit to it.” The need now was for a plan, said Mr. Perinchief, and so Government would set up a National Accessibility Advisory Council to implement policy and strategy. This body will also review legislation and advise Government on best practice. Mr. Perinchief said: “The Policy lays the foundation, which enables us to achieve a vision of ‘inclusion for all’ and we all have a responsibility for making this vision real.”  

June 18. A letter claiming to detail allegations about the Bermuda Housing Corporation affair has been removed from online encyclopedia Wikipedia's entry for Premier Ewart Brown. Wikipedia has followed popular youth online community Facebook in deleting the document from the person claiming to be responsible for the dissemination of leaked documents relating to allegations of corruption at BHC. The letter, by someone dubbing himself "Son of the Soil", hit the web after being e-mailed to news groups including The Royal Gazette. It has also been running on a number of blogs originating on the Island, including Bermudasucks.com. Commentators have claimed it shows how attempts to gag the media over the BHC issue cannot stop millions of people reading about it on the Internet.

June 18. Bermuda could be the site of a new stem cell research facility within three months. An Internet website has exposed the link between the Island and Stemedica Cell Technologies, a California-based biotech company. “Stemedica is a prominent Russian company that will soon open clinics in ‘neutral’ countries like Bahamas, Bermuda, Caymans,” a commentator wrote on the Motley Fool Caps investment website in March this year. Stemedica’s website states it researches adult stem cell technology rather than the embryonic version which has attracted opposition from church groups across the world because it involves the destruction of embryos. Yesterday, Bishop of Bermuda Ewen Ratteray and Roman Catholic Bishop Robert Kurtz both welcomed the move — as long as Stemedica steers clear of embryonic stem cells. Stemedica chief executive and vice chairman Dr. Maynard Howe said the company’s plans for Bermuda were still in the discovery phase. “We are in the preliminary stages of discussions regarding opening a treatment centre in Bermuda,” he said. Plans will hopefully be finalized within three months, he added. Stemedica, a private company which employs up to 100 people and records revenues of up to $10 million, was formed in 2004-2005. Its team is largely spread between California and Eastern Europe. The company’s website proclaims it is “dedicated to harnessing and commercializing adult stem cell technology and therapies for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases in an effort to save, restore and improve lives”. In the US, President George Bush and other social conservatives have long opposed human embryonic stem cell research because the cells can be obtained only by destroying embryos. However, adult stem cell research such as that conducted by Stemedica is less controversial. Reacting yesterday, Anglican Bishop Ewen Ratteray — who stressed his views were personal and not on behalf of the Church — said: “If it involves the use of adult stem cells, that would be acceptable — as long as it’s being used in terms of not creating another being or anything like that, but in terms of dealing with illnesses like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. We accept scientific research in other areas. Why not this? I’m a little uncertain about how they are doing it, but as long as it’s ethical, I think that’s acceptable. Let’s see what happens.” The Catholic Church across the world has campaigned against embryonic stem cell research, but Bishop Kurtz said the Church was not against stem cell research full stop. “I would certainly hope that using some form of legitimate research that you can find some cures for diseases,” he said. In May, the California Supreme Court gave dramatic clearance to California’s landmark $3-billion stem cell research effort, declining to hear appeals from lower courts. The decision was especially controversial as the money is slated for embryonic stem cell research rather than adult stem cell research. US federal government funding of such research is a top political issue in Washington, where Congress last week approved easing restrictions on federal financing of embryonic stem cell research. Some of the adult stem cell research that Stemedica hopes to conduct in Bermuda would revolve around treatment for bone regeneration, and for scar and burn tissue. Stemedica also has facilities in other countries and cities around the world, including Moscow, Seoul, Paris, Mexico and Switzerland. 

June 18. Courtland Boyle has been elected unopposed to the position of Alderman of the Corporation of Hamilton.  Mr. Boyle, who has been a Common Councillor of the Corporation for the last four and a half years, is vice president of W. J. Boyle & Son Ltd., which operates four shoe stores in Hamilton. Bill Black, Deputy Mayor of Hamilton, said: “On behalf of the Corporation of Hamilton, I would like to congratulate Courtland on his appointment as Alderman. Courtland has done a wonderful job as a Common Councillor and I look forward to a continued relationship with him as a fellow Alderman.” Additionally, four candidates — Peter Aldrich, Irving Hendrickson, Kathryn Cole Gibbons and David Sullivan — have been nominated for the position of Common Councillor. An election will be held at City Hall on June 21 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the post of Common Councillor.

June 18. With a northwesterly breeze of 15 to 18 knots giving momentum to a fleet of 72 yachts racing in the 30th Marion to Bermuda Race on Friday, Governor of Bermuda Sir John Vereker was spotted grinding winches in full offshore sailing gear aboard the yacht “Babe” while Bermuda boat “Morgan’s Ghost” was leading the fleet in Class A as the biennial regatta got underway. The fleet is expected to arrive sometime tomorrow. Five monohull classes and one multi-hull class set sail in the 16th running of the Marion to Bermuda race led in Class A by Preston Hutchings of Paget while in Class B, Colin Couper’s yacht “Babe” was in strong position. With a spinnaker start it wasn’t long before the fleet began to settle into the 645-nautical mile race yesterday — with predictions that the Gulf Stream will be smooth and boats will try and pick the straightest course through it towards Bermuda. “The vast majority of people from Bermuda who are sailors understand the vagaries of the Gulf Stream,” said J. H. Thompson who is the skipper aboard Bermudian Jonathan Baxter’s yacht “Pond Prowler.” “Getting through the Gulf Stream is the most nerve-wracking thing.” Thompson is the former commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and is a member of the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club. This is his ninth Marion to Bermuda race.

June 19. News that another Special Development Order has been granted for a hotel on South Road has caused concern among residents. Yesterday The Royal Gazette spoke with members of the public in Hamilton about the recent announcement that the Minister of the Environment granted a SDO for the Grand Atlantic Resort in Warwick. The hotel will be nine-storeys high and is situated on a 13.1 acre plot, some of which was zoned as woodlands. It is also near the proposed Southlands development, which has already been granted an SDO. The Royal Gazette asked nine people what they thought of the recent use of SDOs for hotel development — seven said they were against it. Dee Williams, who is an accounts manager, said: “I don’t think it is a good idea we are overdeveloped as it is and we are taking up a lot of the open space left on the Island. There are too many buildings going up.” While Geoffrey Frith, the president of Container Ship Management, thought it was wrong to supersede current Planning laws. “Why do we have a Planning Board and a Development Act if we do not use it?” he asked. “I am against the way it is being done. It seems to be going over the procedures that are in place.”  

June 19. Shock and sadness were expressed yesterday over the death of former Deputy Governor Peter Lloyd, described as "one of the finest men" to serve Bermuda. Married to a Bermudian, Margaret Harvey after they met during a cruise off of Africa, it was Mr. Lloyd's work in the Foreign Service that brought him to Bermuda's shores in 1974. He served under three Governors until 1981 when he left for the Cayman Islands to be Governor in his final post for the British Government. And though he spent many years travelling for the Foreign Service, his son Charles said his parents never dreamed of retiring anywhere but Bermuda. He said: "My mom is Bermudian and they had traveled our whole lives so when he retired it was to go back to Bermuda. My uncle lives in Bermuda and we have a lot of family so it was an obvious place to retire to." Diagnosed only a month ago with a brain tumor, he was in London, England for treatment and, though his son said he was recovering well from his surgery on Friday, Sunday night he took a turn for the worse. However, his death leaves a legacy that not only survives from his diplomacy days, but also for his time spent in retirement in Bermuda. His first posting was as a District Officer in Kenya in 1951 until 1960. He became second in rank in the Colonial Service from 1960 to 1961 in Kenya before leaving to be the Colonial Secretary in the Seychelles until 1966. Other appointments before Bermuda included Fiji from 1966 to 1970 and Hong Kong from 1971 to 1974.

June 19. The Auditor General was arrested last night as the investigation into leaked documents alleging corruption at the Bermuda Housing Corporation took a new twist. Larry Dennis spent the night in custody at Prospect Police Station following a raid by detectives on the Office of the Auditor General. Flanked by four plain-clothed detectives and three uniformed officers, Mr. Dennis was escorted out of Victoria Hall at 7.15 p.m. and into the back of an unmarked Police car. Three boxes — one sealed with orange tape marked ‘Evidence’ — were placed in the boot of the vehicle. A source said last night that the raid was carried out in connection with the BHC investigation. Police descended on the offices of the Government fiscal watchdog at 3.45 p.m. yesterday. Uniformed officers stood guard in Reception while detectives carried out a search of documents in offices to the rear. Even the cleaner was turned away as detectives — one wearing forensic latex gloves — carried out a three-and-a-half hour investigation. Bemused staff refused to comment as they left the offices at 5.30 p.m. Then at 6.45 p.m. a young man dressed in blue T-shirt, khaki shorts and white trainers carried a white sealed cardboard box from the City Hall car park into the building, accompanied by Mr. Dennis’s wife, Nancy. The young man — a family relative — handed the box to waiting detectives and left immediately, as Police took the box into offices at the rear. Last night another source claiming to be “a friend of the family” said that Mr. Dennis had been threatened with imprisonment unless he produced documents connected with the BHC inquiry. The anonymous caller said: “Mr. Dennis asked his wife to bring the papers in as the threat was used that the Police would put him in jail unless he released the papers. He called and asked her to bring them to the office.” The source claimed: “They’re just getting at him to get at the Governor.” At 7.15 p.m. Mr. Dennis was escorted out of his Victoria Street offices by detectives. They carried the cardboard box plus a similar box sealed with orange tape and a black plastic crate. A Police spokesman said last night: “There is no comment at this time.” However, Mr. Dennis’s wife confirmed her husband was under arrest. She told The Royal Gazette: “He is spending the night at Prospect Police Station but I really don’t know anything more.” Mrs. Dennis said it was only after 10 p.m. that she learned of her husband’s arrest. “I didn’t know what was going on, it was a shock,” she said. The Office of Auditor General oversees the Government’s fiscal conduct. His position is guaranteed under the Constitution and he reports directly to the Governor. Last night a Police spokesman said two men arrested on Thursday in connection with the leaked BHC files have been released on Police bail. He would not comment further. The documents — leaked to the Mid Ocean News — claimed that Premier Dr. Ewart Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith and former Ministers Renée Webb and Arthur Hodgson were investigated by Police during inquiries into allegations of corruption at the Bermuda Housing Corporation. When the investigation ended in 2004, then acting Director of Public Prosecutions Kulandra Ratneser said some of those investigated could only be accused of bad ethics and that some escaped prosecution due to Bermuda’s antiquated corruption laws. Since the BHC scandal — which has cost taxpayers $8 million — one person has been convicted. Terrence Smith, a BHC officer, was jailed last year on 41 counts of fraud.

June 19. The media should not be gagged from reporting further revelations from a leaked Police dossier on the Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC) scandal, Chief Justice Richard Ground has ruled. However, the public should not expect more from the file which makes serious allegations against public figures including the Premier yet — the ruling will be challenged at the Court of Appeal today. Delivering his judgment at Supreme Court yesterday, Mr. Justice Ground said the balance between protecting the confidential Police file and upholding the constitutional right of the press to report serious allegations concerning important public figures favored the media in this case. “The (BHC) allegations are not gratuitous, in that there is some evidence to support them, as set out in the material so far reported. Nor do the allegations concern the private personal life of those concerned. They touch upon their conduct in office. In those circumstances, I think that the public interest is genuinely engaged, and this is not a case of the public being officiously interested in matters which do not concern them. I think, therefore, that the balance comes down firmly against restraining the media’s freedom (of) expression,” he said. Police Commissioner George Jackson and Attorney General Philip Perinchief launched court action against the Island’s media outlets after ZBM and the Mid-Ocean News published extracts from the documents on May 23 and June 1 respectively. The leaked dossier — said to run to thousands of pages — reportedly revealed that Premier Ewart Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith, former Ministers Renée Webb and Arthur Hodgson and construction boss Zane DeSilva were investigated by Police looking into allegations of corruption at the BHC. When the probe concluded in 2004, then acting Director of Public Prosecutions Kulandra Ratneser said some of those investigated escaped prosecution due to Bermuda’s antiquated corruption laws. Only one person has been convicted since the BHC scandal, which is believed to have cost the taxpayer $8 million. Terrence Smith, a former BHC officer, was jailed last year on 41 counts of fraud. The Island’s media outlets united in opposing the bid to gag them from publishing more on the BHC probe, citing their right to freedom of expression. A hearing last week before Mr. Justice Ground heard how the Mid-Ocean News report prompted the Police to convert existing inquiries into the leak into a full-scale criminal investigation. Two arrests were made last week in connection with this. Mr. Justice Ground also heard that the whereabouts of the original documents are unknown, although copies have been recovered. The Commissioner and Attorney General asked for a ban on the so-far unpublished sections being reported, although the contents of these were not outlined during the hearing. Their lawyer Delroy Duncan, argued that the ban should be granted on grounds including that the documents are confidential. He also cited a fear of what Deputy Commissioner Roseanda Young called “more confidential, and possibly unsubstantiated information” being released. Mr. Duncan further submitted that future investigations could be harmed if Police officers and informers feared publication of such documents in future. Saul Froomkin QC, representing the publishers of this newspaper and sister paper the Mid-Ocean News, argued that the right of the media to freedom of expression should be given more weight than the concern that the documents are confidential. Mr. Justice Ground noted in his judgment backing this view that while Mr. Jackson and Mrs. Young refer to the documents as being stolen, it remains unclear whether they have been stolen or simply copied and distributed to the media. He said he had no reason to doubt the denials of the media organizations that they have the documents in their possession, and there is nothing to suggest any of them stole documents or trespassed on Police premises. “The likelihood is that they were the recipients of a leak by some person as yet unknown on the inside,” he said. Mr. Justice Ground also noted the legal proceedings were not brought by the individuals named in the newspaper report and it was not his function to decide whether the allegations were true. Although he was only asked for an interim injunction against the media, pending a full trial, Mr. Justice Ground said it was hard to envisage what a trial could add to the considerations already before the court. He ordered that the costs of the case incurred by the media organizations — which are likely to be substantial — be paid by the Commissioner and Attorney General. In allowing the application from Mr. Duncan to argue against his judgment in the higher court today, Mr. Justice Ground ordered that Bermuda’s broadcasting organizations and the Bermuda Sun should not report further revelations from the dossier in the interim. The Mid-Ocean News and The Royal Gazette agreed to extend a previous undertaking made not to do. Despite the further obstacle posed by the pending appeal, editor of The Royal Gazette>Bill Zuill yesterday welcomed Mr. Justice Ground’s judgment. “We are very happy that the Chief Justice recognized the vital role of a free press in a democracy. This is an important day for freedom of speech in Bermuda,” he said. Read full coverage of the appeal in tomorrow’s edition of The Royal Gazette, and watch our website at www.theroyalgazette.bm for breaking news today.

June 20. The Court of Appeal will rule next week on whether the Chief Justice was right not to stop the media reporting further revelations from a leaked Police dossier on the Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC) scandal. Mr. Justice Richard Ground ruled on Monday that the right of the public to know about the probe into serious allegations about public figures including Premier Ewart Brown outweighed concern that the file was a confidential Police document. Police Commissioner George Jackson and Attorney General Philip Perinchief launched the action against the Island's media outlets after ZBM and the Mid-Ocean News published extracts from the documents on May 23 and June 1 respectively. The leaked dossier, said to run to thousands of pages, reportedly revealed that Dr. Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith, former Ministers Renee Webb and Arthur Hodgson and construction boss Zane DeSilva were investigated by Police looking into allegations of corruption at the BHC. The Commissioner and Attorney General asked for a ban on the so-far unpublished sections being reported, although the contents of these were not outlined during the hearing. Less than 24 hours after Mr. Justice Ground ruled against this, the pair took their fight to the Court of Appeal. The panel of three judges, President Justice Edward Zacca, Sir Austin Ward and Gerald Nazareth heard legal arguments yesterday and this morning. During submissions, there was a strongly-worded exchange between Saul Froomkin QC, for this newspaper and sister the Mid-Ocean News and Delroy Duncan for the appellants about the latest developments in the Police hunt for the source of the leak. This saw two men arrested and released last week, and Auditor General Larry Dennis arrested and released after 24 hours in custody in a move criticised by Mr. Froomkin. The appeals justices announced at the end of proceedings that they will rule at 10 am on Monday. In the interim period, they have ordered that Bermuda's broadcasting organizations and the Bermuda Sun should not report further material from the dossier until the appeal concludes. The Mid-Ocean News and The Royal Gazette have agreed to extend a previous undertaking made not to do.

June 20. The authorities mounted a challenge yesterday to the Chief Justice’s decision not to stop the media airing further material from a leaked Police dossier on the Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC) scandal. Mr. Justice Ground ruled on Monday that the right of the public to know about the high-profile probe into serious allegations about public figures including Premier Ewart Brown outweighed concern that the file was a confidential Police document. “The (BHC) allegations are not gratuitous, in that there is some evidence to support them, as set out in the material so far reported. Nor do the allegations concern the private personal life of those concerned. They touch upon their conduct in office,” he said at the time. “In those circumstances I think that the public interest is genuinely engaged, and this is not a case of the public being officiously interested in matters which do not concern them. I think, therefore, that the balance comes down firmly against restraining the media’s freedom (of) expression.” Police Commissioner George Jackson and Attorney General Philip Perinchief launched the action against the Island’s media outlets after ZBM and the Mid-Ocean News published extracts from the documents on May 23 and June 1 respectively. The leaked dossier — said to run to thousands of pages—- reportedly revealed that Premier Ewart Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith, former Ministers Renée Webb and Arthur Hodgson and construction boss Zane DeSilva were investigated by Police looking into allegations of corruption at the BHC. The Commissioner and Attorney General asked for a ban on the so-far unpublished sections being reported, although the contents of these were not outlined during the hearing. Less than 24 hours after Mr. Justice Ground ruled against this, they took their fight to the Court of Appeal. Their lawyer, Delroy Duncan, repeated arguments made in front of Mr. Justice Ground last week, asking the appeals justices to find that the Chief Justice did not weigh the balance correctly. Mr. Duncan argued that the publication ban should be granted on grounds including that the documents are confidential. He also cited a fear of what Deputy Commissioner Roseanda Young called “more confidential, and possibly unsubstantiated information” being released. Mr. Duncan further submitted that future investigations could be harmed if Police officers and informers fear publication of such documents in future. And, he argued, it is for the media outlets to tell the court about the unused portions of the confidential documents in order to prove publication would be in the public interest. Mr. Justice Ground had taken the view that it was for the Commissioner and the Attorney General to put the material before him. They did not do so. Saul Froomkin QC, representing the publishers of this newspaper and its sister paper the Mid-Ocean News, successfully argued in the Supreme Court that the press had a constitutional right to use more material from the file, in the public interest. Yesterday afternoon, he asked the appeals justices to consider overnight whether they needed to hear him make the same arguments again. Mr. Froomkin submitted that this was not necessary, and the appeal should be thrown out, because they have no power to interfere with the discretion of Mr. Justice Ground in this case. The appeal continues. Meanwhile, the justices have ordered that Bermuda’s broadcasting organizations and the Bermuda Sun should not report further revelations from the dossier until the appeal concludes. The Mid-Ocean News and The Royal Gazette have agreed to extend a previous undertaking made not to do.

June 20. A 23-year-old Bermuda icon is being dismantled over the next ten weeks to make way for newer and more efficient technology. The Cable and Wireless satellite Standard A Earth Station antenna, which has been a landmark since its construction in April, 1984 was the largest commercial satellite dish in the world measuring 30 meters wide and 300 metres in diameter. However, having to relay a signal to a satellite 24,000 miles away and then wait for the signal to return to Bermuda caused a second delay, which, is too long for the high speed modems so prevalent today. New fibre optic cable called Gemini Bermuda will increase communications capacity said Eddie Saints, Chief Executive of Cable and Wireless Bermuda, yesterday. "The fibre optic cables we will be introducing to replace the earth station will provide data communication at the speed of light. Much faster than what the satellite was doing, which will help with the broadband data. This will satisfy the growing demand for diverse, reliable high-speed data and broadband services, which cannot be provided by the smaller capacity of the current cable," he said. "It will also enable us to provide direct international access to all three diverse fibre optic cable systems serving Bermuda from our Teleport facility in Devonshire parish, benefiting Bermuda's International business and residential community." And introducing the cable is only one of a list of updates on the Cable and Wireless location. Other plans for the site are a new power plant with a data centre to support the company. The cost will be about $22 million for the updates and the 800-mile-long cable Gemini Bermuda, which will be operational by October 2007. Dismantling the satellite will take close to ten weeks and the contract, which was won by M.R. Construction, will be close to $750,000. And as of yesterday, one panel of the 400-tonne satellite dish had come down to make way for the Gemini Bermuda fibre optic cables, which will have 700 times more capacity than the previous cables attached to the satellite dish. It will run to Manasquawa, New Jersey where terminal equipment will be based. Cable and Wireless already runs two other fibre optic cables to Tortola and then onto the United States and from St. David's to Tuckertown, New Jersey. A third line with Gemini Bermuda, however, will help give the company back-up should one of the lines fail, according to Mr. Saints. 

June 20. Members of the legal community said Premier Dr. Ewart Brown and former Minister Nelson Bascome have the right to sue the Island’s media organizations for libel and slander over allegations from a leaked Police dossier on the Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC) scandal. Two writs were filed at the Supreme Court Register shortly before 10 a.m. yesterday as the Police Commissioner and Attorney General began an appeal to overturn Monday’s ruling by the Chief Justice that the media should not be gagged from reporting more from the leaked file. The first writ, the 159th to be filed in 2007, stated: “Ewart F. Brown vs. 1) Bermuda Broadcasting Company 2) Bermuda Press (Holdings) Ltd. 3) DeFontes Broadcasting Company Ltd. 4) Bermuda Sun Limited.” Lawyer Charles Richardson is representing the Premier. The second writ stated: Nelson Blake Bascome vs. 1) Bermuda Broadcasting Company 2) Bermuda Press (Holdings) Ltd. 3) DeFontes Broadcasting Company Ltd. 4) Bermuda Sun Limited.” Mr. Bascome was formerly the Health Minister and he is being represented by Victoria Pearman. Mr. Richardson said neither he nor Ms Pearman would comment on the writs. Yesterday, lawyers said the Premier and former Minister should be allowed to pursue their legal options like anyone else, but some commented that a libel trial could prove to be very interesting because the politicians could have to take the stand. Prominent lawyer Timothy Marshall said: “I don’t have any recollection of a politician doing this before in Bermuda but the case law permits any individual, regardless of their position, to vindicate their reputation. The Premier has all the rights as any other citizen. I am all for people using the institutions that are there to serve the public to explore their rights. That includes people that feel their reputation has been damaged and the press who feel the public has a right to know.” Mr. Marshall said as long as the questions were relevant to the libel issue the Premier and Minster could be asked a wide range of questions if the issue reached trial. While defence lawyer Mark Pettingill, who is also standing for Parliament for the United Bermuda Party, said he believed the move was “unprecedented” in Bermuda. He explained that to libel someone was to “cause someone to be lowered in the minds of right thinking people” and said lawyers in libel cases would be able to question the Premier about different aspects of the allegations from the leaked dossier. He too agreed that the Premier should be able to exercise his legal rights: “This has been issued by him as a private citizen not as the Premier and if he feels he has been libeled he should be able to take action like anyone else.’’ The writs come after The Royal Gazette’s sister paper The Mid-Ocean News ran a story from a leaked Police dossier centering on allegations of corruption at the Bermuda Housing Corporation. The documents reportedly revealed that Premier Ewart Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith and former Ministers Nelson Bascome, Renée Webb and Arthur Hodgson were all investigated by fraud squad officers looking into the BHC allegations. Since the investigation into the BHC corruption — which is believed to have cost the taxpayer $8 million — one person has been jailed. Terence Smith, a BHC officer, was found guilty and jailed last year on 41 counts of fraud. 

June 20. Rival jurisdictions in the Caribbean are poised to capitalize if the Island's reputation becomes undermined by the Bermuda Housing Corporation affair, an international finance expert warned last night. David Marchant believes the arrest of Auditor General Larry Dennis was the latest in a string of events which are jeopardizing Bermuda's name as a reinsurance paradise. Mr. Dennis' detention at the Hamilton Police Station was reported to a worldwide audience yesterday by industry publication Global Reinsurance, which described the whole investigation as a "scandal that is rocking the island". Mr. Marchant said the arrest of Mr. Dennis — the sole independent watchdog over Government's financial affairs — would contribute to a "gradual erosion of confidence" in Bermuda. Places such as Cayman Islands, where international business has grown significantly in recent months, are now well placed to take advantage, he said. Some major companies based in Bermuda already have strong ties with the Caymans. "If Bermuda continues to be driven to the edge of the cliff, the Cayman Islands is going to be rubbing its hands in glee in anticipation of picking up Bermuda's reinsurance companies," he said. Mr. Marchant said four decades ago Bermuda itself began building its blue chip reputation as a financial jurisdiction by capitalizing on controversy in the Bahamas, which had previously led the field. He said he could see "remarkable parallels" with the situation facing the Island today. Mr. Marchant, a former Royal Gazette journalist, is now based in Miami as an investigative reporter and publisher of Inside Bermuda, which sells in more than 100 countries all over the world. In his May 31 edition, he wrote that Bermuda's portrayal as the "clean" face of offshore finance was rocked by the corruption allegations. Global Reinsurance's website reported on Mr. Dennis' arrest yesterday: "This is the latest in a series of political issues threatening the reinsurance paradise. New time limits on work permits, which could force out 10,000 guest workers, unpopular policies governing car ownership and concerns over freedom of speech have plagued the island over the past year." Earlier this month, The Mid-Ocean News ran a story from a leaked Police dossier centering on allegations of corruption at BHC. The documents reportedly revealed that Premier Ewart Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith and former Ministers Renee Webb and Arthur Hodgson were all investigated by Police looking into the BHC allegations. When the investigation finished in 2004, then Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Kulandra Ratneser, said many of those investigated could only be accused of bad ethics. 

June 20. As the Government’s fiscal watchdog, the Office of Auditor General monitors public accounts for any signs of mismanagement or fraud. Under the Bermuda Constitution Order, it is independent of any authority — being answerable only to the Governor. The 1968 Constitution states: “The accounts of the Legislative Council, the House of Assembly, all Government departments and offices (including the Public Service Commission) and all courts of Bermuda shall be audited and reported on annually by the Auditor, and for that purpose the Auditor or any person authorized by him in that behalf shall have access to all books, records, returns and other documents relating to such accounts. In the exercise of his functions under the provisions of this section, the Auditor shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.” His mission is described today as: “The Office of the Auditor General, derived from its legislative mandate, is to add credibility to Government’s financial reporting and to promote improvement in the financial administration of all Government departments and controlled entities for which the Government is accountable to Parliament.” Government’s relationship with Mr. Dennis, however, has been marked with friction. Last month, Mr. Dennis used his annual report to call for more financial independence. He called for legislators to establish his Office as an independent body and that he be allowed to operate its bank accounts and payroll, plus negotiate and arrange office space for his staff. The Minster of Finance presented a nine-page response to the annual report, but did not broach the subject of greater independence. In his annual report last month, Mr. Dennis described how in May of last year, the Ministry of Works and Engineering relocated the Office of Auditor General with less than 24 hours notice. Although the move was necessitated by an expiring lease, the abrupt action rendered his department virtually inoperable for three weeks. The office move was announced between 4-5p.m. on Friday, May 26, 2006, and that it would take place over the weekend. Mr. Dennis was in Canada at the time and later commented: “I think it is an outright plan to get at the Auditor General and attack his ability to audit.” The relocation — to a smaller office — came three weeks after his 2006 annual report in which he criticised the Government, stating that $800 million of public funds could not be readily audited because the amount was unaccounted for. Last month’s annual report reported $523 million unaccounted for, and Mr. Dennis pointed out that delays in accounting and bookkeeping leave the Government open to fraud and misallocation of funds, either by public servants or by the public, notably tax avoiders. Describing the relocation row last year, Mr. Dennis said in his 2007 report: “Audit organizations operate independent of the Government apparatus, similar to QUANGOs. The drafters of the Bermuda Constitution and the Audit Act 1990 presumably supposed, as I did, that such extensive safeguards to auditor independence were unnecessary because the Executive and Government administrators would respect the independence of the Auditor General. The events of May 2006 expose the naivety of that assumption.”

June 20. How the BHC saga developed — day by day

June 20. The Bermuda Housing Corporation affair could bring the issue of whistleblower legislation back to the fore. More than a year ago, then Public Safety Minister Randy Horton pledged that a law to protect staff who highlight allegations of fraud and corruption would definitely be introduced to the Island. Mr. Horton was speaking amid clamor for an overhaul in the law in the wake of the BHC fraud trial which saw Terrence Smith jailed for eight years. He told the House of Assembly in May 2006: "The Government is pleased to state that there will be public and private sector whistleblower legislation on the agenda as part of our criminal law reforms." Since then, the Opposition United Bermuda Party has called for whistleblower legislation on a number of occasions, and has recently stated it will bring the law in if it gets into power. Countries operating whistleblower legislation include the UK, where individuals who disclose information to expose malpractice are protected from victimization and dismissal, and the US, where employees who call attention to violations are protected by a wide variety of federal and state laws.

June 20. Employees at the Bermuda Broadcasting Company walked out yesterday alleging poor working conditions and will return today on a “work to rule” basis, refusing to do overtime or other non-contractual requests. ZBM’s 7 p.m. news broadcast was scrapped as around 35 staff were locked in talks with elements of the board last night with a shop steward voicing disgruntlement over the lack of a pay rise for four years, poor working conditions and equipment which is always breaking down. One source said: “We always get promises they are going to address things but nothing ever happens.” Another meeting with management is planned for 8.30 this morning. At lunchtime yesterday workers formed a picket line outside the ZBM/ZFB Radio and Television Studios in Prospect, Devonshire. Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU) president Chris Furbert said: “They are not happy with the way management is treating them. They have had enough of the working conditions, lack of conditions, and the work environment. They said they will not be doing any work until they meet with the board to put issues on the table. It was supposed to be cleared up some time ago. Hopefully the issues will be addressed at a board meeting.” The board meeting took place late yesterday afternoon but BIU could not say how it went. A BIU representative said more industrial action today was likely with staff operating a work to rule until their grievances have been addressed. Both of the company’s radio stations, 1340 AM and Power 95, were also not in operation during the day and the board meeting with staff did not conclude until 8 p.m. The Royal Gazette believes 11 staff have left the station in the past few months, including news presenter Gary Moreno. Rick Richardson, chief executive officer of the Bermuda Broadcasting Company, would not comment. This newspaper understands about four years ago, workers walked out because of an air conditioning problem.

June 20. Plummeting popularity levels and mounting controversy could cost Premier Ewart Brown his job, a Government MP predicted last night. The parliamentarian said the furor surrounding the Premier just eight months into his leadership was causing even former supporters to question his worth. Recently Dr. Brown risked a constitutional crisis after threatening to suspend relations with the Governor who he blamed for not protecting leaked Police files from the probe into the Bermuda Housing Corporation. The fall-out has seen media gags, the arrest of the Auditor General and the Premier announcing his intention to sue the media. The MP, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed people in the Premier’s own party and even within Cabinet, were voicing concern. “The people lobbying to get him in last time are the people most upset now whereas the people who didn’t support him are saying: ‘We told you so’. People gave him the benefit of the doubt and hoped he would pull his socks up. There’s disquiet. It reflects badly on the party. I don’t know what is going to happen. I know some of the MPs are definitely upset and some Cabinet members are definitely upset with respect to what’s going on. It tarnishes the Cabinet as well as other MPs in parliament and members of the party.”  

June 20. Premier Dr. Ewart Brown and former Government Minister Nelson Bascome are suing the Island’s media organizations for libel and slander over revelations from a leaked Police dossier on the Bermuda Housing Corporation scandal. The writs were filed at Supreme Court yesterday morning, minutes before the Police Commissioner and Attorney General mounted an appeal against Monday’s ruling by the Chief Justice that the media should not be gagged from further reports on the leaked file. Lawyers Charles Richardson, representing Dr. Brown, and Victoria Pearman, representing Mr. Bascome, asked the Court of Appeal at 10 am to halt the appeal until their clients’ libel action — launched at 9.52 am according to Ms Pearman — was heard at Supreme Court. The Premier and Mr. Bascome are suing the same media organizations subjected to attempts by the Police Commissioner George Jackson and Attorney General Philip Perinchief to stop them publishing further extracts. They are the Bermuda Broadcasting Corporation, Bermuda Press Holdings — publishers of this newspaper and sister paper the Mid-Ocean News — DeFontes Broadcasting Company and the Bermuda Sun. Mr. Jackson and Mr. Perinchief launched court action against the media after ZBM and the Mid-Ocean News published extracts from the documents on May 23 and June 1 respectively. They sought to halt publication of fresh material from the file, although it was not outlined what this was during the court proceedings. Mr. Justice Ground turned down the application on Monday, saying that the freedom of the media to publish the material should be given greater weight than the concern that it came from confidential Police files. Mr. Richardson and Ms Pearman argued that further potentially damaging allegations against their clients could emerge if the appeals justices uphold the Chief Justice’s ruling. Mr. Bascome appeared at Magistrates’ Court last week charged with stealing more than $75,000 through business dealings. He also faces a separate charge of corruption involving securing public housing for a business associate during his spell as Minister with responsibility for housing. He denies both accusations and will face trial at a later date. Ms Pearman submitted to the appeals justices that it could be impossible for her client to have a fair trial “if scurrilous and inflammatory and defamatory material” is leaked in relation to him, should Mr. Justice Ground’s ruling be upheld. Mr. Richardson also expressed fear on behalf of Dr. Brown that media organizations are in possession of further material from the Police probe. President Justice Edward Zacca ordered the appeal should continue despite the arguments from Ms Pearman and Mr. Richardson. The Royal Gazette approached Ms Pearman and Mr. Richardson outside court in a bid to clarify the grounds upon which the writs were filed; when papers are likely to be served on the media organizations; when the libel hearing is likely to be heard; and why they chose to file the writs at the time they did.

June 20. The Auditor General was yesterday released from Police custody 24 hours after detectives investigating the leaking of documents over allegations of corruption at the Bermuda Housing Corporation raided his offices. Police executed a search of the home of Auditor General Larry Dennis before releasing him on bail. No charges have been filed and Mr. Dennis was told he was bailed to report back to Hamilton Police Station on August 22. Politicians last night branded his arrest a “witch hunt”, with the United Bermuda Party saying “things have gone too far”. As detectives accompanied the Auditor General in a search of his home yesterday, this reporter and a Royal Gazette photographer were pulled over by Police officers and warned not to continue our observations. All of this happened on a momentous day for press freedom and free speech in Bermuda — when an appeal by the Attorney General and the Police for an injunction against further media reporting of the leaked dossier was briefly stalled, the reason being that Premier Dr. Ewart Brown and Government MP Nelson Bascome have filed writs against the Island’s media for libel and slander. Lawyers for Dr. Brown and Mr. Bascome argued the injunction should stay in place — effectively silencing the media from reporting any further information from the file — until the libel hearing. The bid was rejected by the court. Mr. Dennis was arrested and placed in custody on Monday following a raid on his Hamilton offices. Detectives removed three boxes — one marked “evidence” — believed to contain copies of the documents leaked to the media. The Auditor General was taken to Prospect Police Station and then transferred to Hamilton Police Station for interview at 11a.m. yesterday. At 2.45 p.m. Mr. Dennis left with three detectives in an unmarked car to accompany them on a search of his home in Smith’s parish. The Royal Gazette followed but at 2.55 p.m. our vehicle was stopped in Middle Road near Tee Street by two Police officers on motorbikes. Despite being on a public road, we were asked for a driving licence and proof of insurance, then asked: “Why are you following that car? We have to ask you to desist. You are interfering with an investigation.” On returning the vehicle documents, the officer then said: “Stay away from that.” The Police returned Mr. Dennis to Hamilton Police Station at 3.40 p.m. and were not seen to take any evidence into the building. At 4.15 p.m. the Auditor General was released and walked out of the station accompanied by his lawyer, Alan Dunch. Mr. Dennis, who was unshaven and wore the same clothes as on his arrest on Monday evening, appeared drained but relieved. He told The Royal Gazette : “I am fine. Thank you for being here. I do not want to make any comment at this time, I think I really need to think about what’s happened. I have to return here on August 22.” Mr. Dennis would not say why he had been arrested, but that “no charges” were brought against him and he had been bailed “on my own recognizance”. Recognizance is a legal term defined as: ‘a security entered into before a court with a condition to perform some act required by law, on failure of which a sum is forfeited’. Asked whether the Constitution gave him protection against Police intrusion into his offices, Mr. Dennis said: “I will comment on that some time in the future.” The Office of Auditor General oversees the Government’s fiscal conduct. His position is protected under the Constitution and he reports directly to the Governor. Yesterday Deputy Governor Mark Capes said: “The Auditor General operates independently and does not have to account to anybody else.” However, he would not comment on the arrest. “I have got nothing to say on that beyond saying I am aware of the Press reports that he has been arrested,” said Mr. Capes. A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK said: “We are aware of the reports he has been arrested, allegedly into the Police investigation into missing documents, and we are unable to comment further at this time.” She defined the role of Bermuda’s Auditor General as to “audit the accounts of the Senate and House of Assembly, and all the Government departments and officers”.  The Bermuda Constitution allows him to operate independently of any authority,” she added. The extraordinary events of the last few days come after The Royal Gazette’s sister paper The Mid-Ocean News ran a story from a leaked Police dossier centering on allegations of corruption at the Bermuda Housing Corporation. The documents reportedly revealed that Dr. Ewart Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith, and former Ministers Renee Webb and Arthur Hodgson, were all investigated by Police looking into the BHC allegations. Construction boss Zane DeSilva was another prominent person investigated as part of the probe into corruption at BHC, the leaked files reportedly showed. Last night Michael Dunkley, Leader of the United Bermuda Party, said: “We are alarmed and deeply concerned at the latest developments stemming from the Bermuda Housing Corporation scandal. “The detention of the Auditor General — the man who holds constitutional responsibility for investigating Government’s financial activities — must cause all right-thinking Bermudians to ask whether things have gone too far, and whether this could not have been handled in a more appropriate manner. While we recognize that the Police have a job to do, the search for the person or persons who leaked documents has become an overriding witch-hunt.” Mr. Dunkley accused the Government of trying to detract attention from allegations that several of its representatives were investigated by Police. “There are much more serious issues at play here, and those relate to the roles of senior members of Government and the part that they are alleged to have played in the original BHC scandal,” he said. He reiterated the call for an independent inquiry into the affair. “Our call for a Royal Commission into the BHC scandal was made to protect the national interest,” said Mr. Dunkley. “A Royal Commission can provide a formal, independent, open and comprehensive inquiry to produce recommendations to get us back on track as a country. Right now, energies, time and resources are being channeled down a track — the wrong track — and away from issues that, if left unaddressed, will damage our system of governance and our worldwide reputation for integrity, fair play and trustworthiness. A Royal Commission will demonstrate to the world that we as a people are serious about doing the right thing and preserving our reputation for good governance.”  

June 21. The death has occurred at age 85 of well-known businessman Malcolm Lloyd Gosling, former president and chief executive officer of Gosling Brothers, who retired two years ago as its chairman. Born on May 1, 1922, Mr. Gosling was educated at Saltus Grammar School, Ridley College in Canada, and Pennsylvania University. In 1942, during the Second World War, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, and was trained in Quebec before being posted to England, where he served as a Pilot Officer. At the end of hostilities, Mr. Gosling returned to Bermuda before proceeding to Toronto University, where he gained a business degree, and then joined the family business, with which he remained until his retirement in 2005. His business acumen was held in high esteem throughout the firm. In addition to being a successful businessman, Malcolm Gosling was also an avid sportsman whose name was synonymous with tennis and golf. For many years he was one of Bermuda’s best tennis players, and achieved a similar standing when later he switched to golf. A former president of the Bermuda Lawn Tennis Association, Mr. Gosling was also a member of the Coral Beach Club, the Riddell’s Bay Golf Club, the Mid-Ocean Club, and for many years was president of the Bermuda Golf Association. In 1994 the Bermuda Government honored him with a Special Achievement Award for his distinguished and sustained contributions to tennis and golf. Mr. Gosling retained many connections with Second World War-related organizations. A life member of the Royal Air Force Association and Royal Canadian Air Force 407 Squadron, he was also treasurer of the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps Overseas Association, a former president of the Bermuda War Veterans Association, and trustee of its Poppy Appeal Fund. A lifelong member of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, as were his ancestors for generations before him, Mr. Gosling served as a church warden for 27 years, and was also on the vestry for many years. His hobbies were stamp collecting and woodworking. A member of the Stamp Design Advisory Committee for some years, he was a keen collector who specialized in West Indian and King George VI high value stamps. He enjoyed woodworking, and used Bermuda cedar to craft many pieces of occasional furniture for his wife and Paget home, “Bloomfield”. Mourning Mr. Gosling’s loss are his wife Mary, whom he married in Vancouver in 1950, daughters Nancy, Nea and Penny, son Edmund Malcolm, sister Nea Willits, and nine grandchildren. Predeceasing him were brothers Edmund (Teddy) and Francis (Goose). Funeral arrangements are pending.

June 21. The Auditor General was arrested for alleged possession of stolen documents and not revealing his source, according to reports last night. Larry Dennis was arrested on Monday and detained in Police custody for 24 hours before being released at 4.15 p.m. on Tuesday. Detectives searched his Hamilton offices and his home in Smith’s in the hunt for the source of a Police dossier leaked to the media which claimed Premier Dr. Ewart Brown and members of the Government were investigated over alleged corruption at the Bermuda Housing Corporation. On his release, Mr. Dennis would not say why he was arrested but that “no charges” were filed and that he was bailed to return to Hamilton Police Station on August 22. A source, however, told The Royal Gazette last night: “He was arrested because he would not reveal the source of his information. The official charge was that he was handling stolen goods and not revealing the source. The Police have the copies, but the Supreme Court said a few weeks ago that copies are not stolen documents.” A Police spokesman refused to comment on Mr. Dennis’s arrest, saying: “The Bermuda Police Service reserves its comment for the appropriate place and time.” The whereabouts of the original Police dossier into the BHC allegations is unknown. In the legal wrangle over the media’s publication of the file’s contents, Chief Justice Richard Ground said in the Supreme Court that it was unclear whether the documents had been stolen or whether they had simply been copied and distributed to the media. Last night Mr. Dennis would not comment, but said he was shocked to become the subject of a Police investigation. “I was horrified and angered by what was happening,” he said. “However, I can’t complain about how it was done and the treatment by the investigating team.” Mr. Dennis — the Government’s fiscal watchdog — has continually called for more legislative protection for ‘whistleblowers’. In his 2006 Annual Report, which stated $800 million of public funds were unaccounted for, Mr. Dennis said: “One recommendation (in Appendix Two) requires special mention this year. In my 2003, 2004 and 2005 annual reports I expressed concern at the number of frauds and misappropriations that were detected in recent years in Government entities. “In my 2004 report I recommended that the Ministry of Finance consider seeking ‘whistleblower’ legislation to encourage public employees to report apparent malpractice or other wrongdoings, and to protect employees who do so. “The legislation should be supported by practices that demonstrate that reported malpractices are investigated fully without fear or favour, that whistleblowers are protected, and that perpetrators of misappropriations and fraud are dealt with firmly.”

June 21. Details of a writ filed against the media by Premier Ewart Brown and former Government Minister Nelson Bascome had not been received by this newspaper yesterday. This meant the nature of the allegations made by the pair — who have launched libel and slander action over reports from a leaked Police dossier on allegations of corruption at the Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC) — remain unclear. Lawyers who filed the papers at the Supreme Court Registry on Tuesday have up to a year from that date to serve papers on the media organizations named in them. According to Saul Froomkin QC, if and when the case comes to court the leaked BHC file — the subject of current action in the Appeal Court by the Police and Attorney General to who wish to block further disclosures — could be revealed in full. Mr. Froomkin said if the court hearing the libel case deemed it relevant and necessary to prove either side's case, it could compel the disclosure of the full dossier. He is representing this newspaper group against the Attorney General and Police Commissioner, who are seeking to get the Court of Appeal to overturn a ruling by the Chief Justice that the press should not be banned from reporting more of the file. The pair launched the action against the Island's media outlets after ZBM and the Mid-Ocean News published extracts from the documents on May 23 and June 1 respectively. The leaked dossier — said to run to thousands of pages — reportedly revealed that Dr. Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith, former Ministers Renée Webb and Arthur Hodgson and construction boss Zane DeSilva were investigated by Police looking into allegations of corruption at the BHC. It also reportedly makes allegations about Mr. Bascome. Commissioner George Jackson and Attorney General Philip Perinchief asked for a ban on the so-far unpublished sections being reported, although the contents of these were not outlined during the hearing. Less than 24 hours after Mr. Justice Ground ruled against this, the pair took their fight to the Court of Appeal, which is set to announce its decision on Monday morning. The action by the Commissioner and Attorney General is against the same media organizations named by Dr. Brown and Mr. Bascome in their writs — the Bermuda Broadcasting Company, Bermuda Press Holdings, DeFontes Broadcasting Company and the Bermuda Sun. Neither Charles Richardson, the lawyer representing the Premier, and Victoria Pearman, representing Mr. Bascome, have commented on the details of the action. According to lawyer Timothy Marshall, the fact that the writ has been served means that both Dr. Brown and Mr. Bascome can cite it as a reason for refusing to speak about the BHC saga.  

June 21. Social Rehabilitation Minister Dale Butler denies there is a whispering campaign within the PLP against Premier Ewart Brown. Two PLP MPs told yesterday’s Royal Gazette that supporters were turning on Dr. Brown after recent controversies which has seen him threaten to suspend relations with the Governor and launch a libel action against the press. The hunt for the missing Bermuda Housing Corporation documents has also seen Auditor General spend 24 hours in a Police cell and Government launching legal action to stop the media from publishing more revelations. One MP claimed the dissent had reached Cabinet level with some believing Dr. Brown had become a liability.  

June 21. A 22-year-old holidaymaker plunged four decks of a cruise ship and later died in hospital after apparently trying to slide down a banister after a night out in St. George’s. Richard Mulloy, from Boston, Massachusetts, was pronounced dead at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital just after 3 a.m. yesterday after the accident on board the Norwegian Majesty, which is berthed at Ordnance Island. Police confirmed last night that they received a report of the fall onboard the Norwegian Cruise Line ship at about 1.15 am and were investigating the death. “It appears that Mr. Mulloy had returned to the ship with his cousin after they had a few drinks together at a nearby St. George’s establishment,” said a Police spokesman. “Around 12.25 a.m. the men were on the fifth deck of the ship intending to go to the disco on the seventh deck when the 22-year-old American man fell from the fifth deck to the first deck. “Two nurses on board attended the scene and discovered the victim in an unresponsive state. They immediately gave him CPR and tended to a head wound sustained from the fall. Mr. Mulloy was then rushed to KEMH via ambulance where he subsequently succumbed to his injuries at 3.11 a.m. and was pronounced dead by an on-call physician.”  

June 22. Mistakes have been revealed in Government documents which classed up to 150 charities as ‘delinquent’ for failing to get their accounts in order. The Registrar General admitted there were errors in a Senate report which listed 98 non-profit organizations as failing to submit their accounts within a year of the fiscal year end, and 149 failing to do so within six months. The Bank of Bermuda Foundation and Women’s Resource Centre “were listed in error” according to the department. Registrar General Marlene Christopher told The Royal Gazette: “The Registrar General wishes to apologize to the Bank of Bermuda Foundation and the Women’s Resource Centre for inadvertently including their organizations in the list of delinquent charities provided to the Senate last week.” She added that during the past week financial returns have been received from: Bermuda Olympic Association, The Bermuda Regiment Charitable Trust, The Coalition for the Protection of Children, Bermuda Bible Society and Hamilton Rotary. More than a third of Bermuda’s charities were listed as ‘delinquent’ in the Senate report, presented by Sen. Wayne Caines, Junior Minister for Labour and Immigration, in response to a Parliamentary Question by Sen. Gina Spence Farmer, Shadow Minister for Community and Cultural Affairs. Sen. Spence Farmer asked for the names of registered charities which had failed to submit accounts to the Registrar General within six months and one year of their last financial year, as required by The Charities Act 1978. Mrs. Farmer found her own organisation, Gina Spence Productions in Christ, listed for failing to hand in its accounts one year later. The names of other non-profit organizations associated with members of Parliament also appeared. Mrs. Farmer is president of the production group, which stages free shows for the elderly, sick, and prison inmates. Yesterday she said her organisation had also been listed by the Registrar General in error. “We had asked to be taken off the list four years ago as we’re no longer an active charity, so we should never have been on the list,” said Mrs. Farmer. “When I did call the Registrar’s office they were quite accommodating. We provide free services to prisons and senior citizens and we’ve been doing this for 25 years so I believe our track record speaks for itself.” Penny Dill, executive director of the Women’s Resource Centre — formerly the Rape Crisis Centre, said her organisation had been listed as failing to file its fiscal records after six months. Miss Dill said: “We were upset to find ourselves on this list, because we had filed our statements. We did call the Registrar General’s office and check, and they had in fact not updated their computer to say we had updated the documents. It is really annoying to be named as ‘delinquent’ when we got our accounts in on time. We have asked them to send a letter to us saying they received the accounts and that we had completed everything in the right time. They said they’re going to send us a letter to say the error was on their part. I think they should just notify the charities which haven’t submitted their accounts to let them know, so they don’t then end up in the paper like this, as I think it can be quite detrimental.” The Royal Gazette has received several telephone calls from representatives of non-profit organizations wanting to ‘clear’ their name. Cindy Swan, chairperson of Project Action, said: “Project Action’s financials are accurate and up to date, however we are awaiting our final audited reports — which are not required by the Charity Commission. Project Action has taken this additional step to ensure all pertinent information and funds solicited from the community are utilized for our mandated purpose of providing free transportation for seniors and the physically-challenged island-wide.” Age Concern was listed failing to file its accounts six months later, but the charity said any delay was a result of the rescheduling of its annual general meeting — due to be held on June 5, which then became a public holiday in honour Dame Lois Browne Evans. The AGM has been rescheduled to July 5. Under Government moves, those charities who now fail to submit their annual accounts on time could have their status revoked. Chairwoman of the Charity Commission, Sheryl Harney, said: “I think any organisation that doesn’t comply with the Act is an issue, but I wasn’t aware of the numbers as the Registrar General compiles that.”

June 22. Communications consultant Kathryn Gibbons has been elected as a Common Councillor, the Corporation of Hamilton announced yesterday. Mrs. Gibbons — the wife of United Bermuda Party education spokesman Grant Gibbons — fought off competition from rival candidates Peter Aldrich, Irvin Hendrickson and David Sullivan. She will share responsibility for managing the City of Hamilton with Mayor Sutherland Madeiros, three Aldermen and four other Common Councillors. Mrs. Gibbons, who also works as a freelance writer and editor, previously spent five years as director of marketing and communications for six Gibbons Group companies. Before moving to Bermuda 25 years ago, she held managerial positions in marketing and communications for a number group of companies in the US. Mrs. Gibbons said: “I am delighted to have been elected. I look forward to serving the City of Hamilton and the people who live, work and play in it every day.” Mr. Madeiros said: “On behalf of the Corporation of Hamilton, I would like to congratulate Kathryn on being elected as a Common Councillor. I was particularly pleased that we had such a diverse group of candidates competing for the position and I would like to thank them for their interest and participation. Kathryn has a strong communications background and I think she will bring a great deal of talent and energy to the Corporation.” A second election for the post of Common Councillor, to replace newly appointed Alderman Courtland Boyle, will be set in due course.

June 23. Bermuda is planning to bury its 550 containers of asbestos at the Government quarry, Works and Engineering Minister Dennis Lister has revealed. He said the asbestos was stored in shipping containers at two locations — with 420 at the Government quarry and 130 at the former US Baselands in Southside. Responding in written answers to parliamentary questions from Shadow Works and Engineering Minister Jon Brunson, Mr Lister said Government had approved a report by Atkins Consulting of the UK that recommended disposal of the stored asbestos through burial at the Government quarry.  

June 23. Developers are advertising for hotel staff for Southlands despite the resort still awaiting the go-ahead of a Special Development Order. More than 40 applicants — mainly Bermudians — have already registered their interest, although developers Southlands Ltd. say there is no official advertisement as yet. Controversial plans for the 300-suite Jumeirah Southlands resort are currently awaiting the final decision of Environment Minister Neletha Butterfield. The five-star cliff side resort would be operated by the Jumeirah Group and offer tourist accommodation in a variety of suites and condominiums. Situated along Warwick's South Shore it will feature 300 balcony suites, five restaurants and bars, a nightclub, spa, pools, equestrian centre and a conference centre. Jumeirah Southlands would be the first 'luxury resort' to be constructed in Bermuda for 35 years. Environmentalists and residents campaigning against the 37-acre resort want to protect the land as open space. They say the development will destroy the shore line and natural habitats, as well as increasing congestion on surrounding roads. The Dubai-based Jumeirah Group aims to open the 497-bed resort by the summer of 2008, pending the SDO and approval of building permits. The advertisement for jobs on the Southlands Ltd. website reads: "Imagine yourself as a valuable member of the Jumeirah Southlands team. Thank you for your interest in Jumeirah Southlands. We are searching for unique people to help us create a different kind of resort in Bermuda. We value diversity, equal opportunity, integrity and sincerity and will be offering a world-class environment for a select team of innovative and people-focused individuals. Please supply us with the following information pertinent to employment consideration." Those interested are then asked for: contact details; whether they are a Bermuda citizen or their work permit status; the position they are interested in; and their relevant experience. Southlands Ltd. said yesterday that the “unofficial” advertisement was something being drawn up in preparation for the SDO decision. Non-profit organisation Greenrock is calling for tighter regulations for SDOs and Environmental Impact Studies under the Planning Act. Vice president Andrew Vaucrosson said the fast-tracking of SDOs was a symptom the law needed to be changed.

June 25. Bermuda has been likened to a “Police state” by Cayman Islands commentators reflecting on the arresting of Auditor General Larry Dennis. Cayman Net News has urged its own Government not to “dare follow the Bermuda model” should events similar to the Bermuda Housing Corporation affair happen there. They add that the Caymans stands to benefit by attracting new and existing international businesses put off by any damage to the Island’s reputation as an offshore financial centre. In an editorial on Friday last week, Cayman Net News stated: “Our sister British Dependent Territory, Bermuda, is often held up as an example for the Cayman Islands . . . but recent events there have cast great doubt on the wisdom of such a proposition, and should serve as a lesson for the government and the voters here.” The article refers to “bluster and threats” from Premier Ewart Brown towards Governor Sir John Vereker, before adding: “The Bermuda government has also reacted to the publication of embarrassing reports by raiding the offices of local media organizations and the offices of the auditor general. Even more astonishingly, in a move typical of a police state, the auditor general himself, whose office (as in the Cayman Islands) oversees the Government’s fiscal conduct, has been arrested. We hope that none of our own government officials would dare to follow the Bermuda model should similar events occur here.” Police Commissioner George Jackson stated last week how Police have operational independence and the command and control of the service was his responsibility. Premier Ewart Brown’s Press Secretary Glenn Jones echoed that point last night, saying: “It’s clear to most people that when the Cayman Islands speaks on this issue, it does so with a vested and biased interest. It would appear to me that the writer is not familiar with our constitutional order, which states it’s the Governor who is responsible for Police and not the Government.” Last week, Bermuda International Business Association CEO Cheryl Packwood urged the Island’s leaders to find closure to the current events as quickly as possible to avoid any damage to Bermuda’s international reputation. International finance expert David Marchant also warned the situation could lead to a gradual erosion of confidence in the Island and the Caymans was ready to capitalize. He said international business had grown significantly in the Caymans in recent months, while some major companies based on the Island have strong ties there. On this point, Cayman Net News said: “The dispute could damage its (Bermuda’s) reputation as an offshore financial centre and, typically, whenever this happens in the region, we stand to benefit from the subsequent flight of new and existing business. Mr. Dennis’ arrest and detention was reported to a worldwide audience by industry publication Global Reinsurance, which described the whole investigation as a “scandal that is rocking the island.” “This is the latest in a series of political issues threatening the reinsurance paradise,” said the report.

June 25. The United Bermuda Party is in London this week to discuss its call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Bermuda Housing Corporation investigation. Opposition Leader Michael Dunkley and Deputy Leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, along with Cole Simons and Dr. Grant Gibbons, will meet with members of the British government and Parliamentary officials. Today they will meet with Sir Philip Mawer, who is the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, as well as members of the House of Commons Committee for Standards in Public Life. Tomorrow they plan to meet senior officers at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office with responsibilities for Bermuda. A spokesman said: “Their meetings will also be used to underscore United Bermuda Party concerns about recent events related to the BHC investigation and their call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry. They believe that the people of Bermuda have a right to know what happened with the BHC investigation and the handling of that investigation as it has a direct bearing on their confidence and trust in government and the criminal justice system." The call for the Commission came after The Royal Gazette’s sister paper The Mid-Ocean News ran a story from a leaked Police dossier centering on allegations of corruption at the BHC. The documents reportedly revealed that Premier Ewart Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith and former Ministers Nelson Bascome and Renée Webb were all investigated by fraud squad officers looking into the BHC allegations. Since the investigation into the BHC corruption — which is believed to have cost the taxpayer $8m — one person has been jailed. Terence Smith, a junior BHC officer, was found guilty and jailed last year on 41 counts of fraud. The Opposition would like the Commission to look into some of the issues such as why Ministers were allegedly protected from police questioning. It also hoped the Commission would recommend what changes should be made to Bermuda’s criminal code. The spokesman also said: “Mr. Dunkley and his colleagues will further express their concerns over the Bermuda Government’s reaction to press reports of the BHC scandal, including Police raids of the offices of media organizations, the office of the Auditor General as well as the arrest of the Auditor General himself.” While in London they will also host a cocktail party this evening for Bermudian students living in London.

June 25. Vast amounts of lethal defoliant Agent Orange were dumped in the ground at Kindley Air Force Base during the 1960s, an American veteran who was there (See US Military Personnel in Bermuda for 1960 to 1963) has claimed. Numerous barrels of the toxin — now said to cause horrific disfigurements and severe long-term illness to those exposed to it — were poured into deep pits before being burned for days, sending poisonous fumes over St. David’s homes, ex-US Air Force serviceman Ronald Slater, who also  wrote he was married to a Bermudian, says. It is feared dioxins in the herbicide, much of which soaked into the earth when the containers were emptied, remain a serious environmental risk today because they are so chemically stable they will not degrade over decades. Mr. Slater, who says around 200 barrels of toxic waste was burned between 1965 and 1967, before he bulldozed it into the sea wearing little protection, now has Type Two diabetes, a tumor on his right arm and a large growth on his kidney. He believes his poor health was brought on by exposure to Agent Orange and has been lobbying the US Government for compensation without success for months. The area in question — thought to be a piece of land about 100 feet long off Annie’s Bay, St. David’s — is now owned by the Bermuda Land Development Company (BLDC) and is currently fenced off to the public. BLDC says it has no plans to develop the land. Following contact from The Royal Gazette, Government has pledged an urgent investigation into Mr. Slater’s claims. Mr. Slater, 64, of Washington State, says Agent Orange was brought to the base so its perimeter fences could be painted to prevent foliage growing and creating a security risk. He also believes many barrels were imported to the Island from elsewhere so they could be dumped and burned. He said he would watch as they were emptied into the pits and the liquid was set on fire before he bulldozed the remains, including the metal containers, into the sea. “Every week, there was at least five, six, eight or ten barrels imported. Some of them were a half or third full,” said Mr. Slater. “They poured it into the pit. I was told bury everything, smash it, incinerate it. Let it burn for two or three days and bulldoze it into the ocean. After six months, I said I was feeling so ill, I was given something to put over my head — an old fireman’s hood. I wore that for the next 12 months. Today, you have to go through decontamination, you have special respiration and protection.” The condition of the site — as well as Southampton Naval Annex, now known as Morgan’s Point — has long been a bone of contention following nearly 50 years as an American base where military waste was allegedly continuously dumped and burned. Government received $11 million from the US to pay to clean up asbestos, excess oil and other waste materials a few years after the land was handed back to Bermuda in 1995. During the 1960s, millions of gallons of Agent Orange were sprayed across parts of Vietnam by the US military. Many war veterans who have suffered ill health after being exposed to its chemical clouds have since claimed compensation from the US Government. Agent Orange expert Dr. Mark Brown, of the US Department of Veteran Affairs, said any Vietnam veteran suffering Type Two diabetes could automatically attribute his illness to exposure to the defoliant. However, Mr. Slater says he has been unable to claim compensation because the US does not recognize that Agent Orange was used anywhere other than Vietnam. His case will be heard before a veterans’ board in the coming months. He said: “It makes me very angry that I wasn’t protected and very embarrassed that I have had to contact a foreign country to tell them what I was ordered to do on their land.” Speaking in the House of Assembly on Friday night after being contacted by this newspaper, Works and Engineering Minister Dennis Lister said: “Concern has been expressed that if the allegations are true the surrounding soil might now be contaminated. “The issues raised are serious enough that I have asked my technical officers to urgently research the claims and report their findings to me within two weeks. I would add that early discussions with the Ministry of Health indicate that no trend towards illness as a result of such contaminants has been observed. But to be safe, we will fully examine these claims and keep the public generally, and the people of St. David’s in particular, fully informed of our progress.” Last night, Premier Ewart Brown’s Press Secretary Glenn Jones said the early signs of in the investigation were encouraging. “After a review of historical records at BLDC archives, leaders are feeling greater comfort that the site is free of Agent Orange. However, the review continues. Lab tests reviewed thus far show immeasurable levels of herbicides and pesticides and documented findings of dioxins.” United Bermuda Party MP Grant Gibbons was Management and Technology Minister when toxicology tests were carried out on the land in the mid 1990s. Dr. Gibbons said the probes did not show the presence of Agent Orange — but said that may mean the substance was simply missed by bore holes which were drilled into the ground. He said another investigation in the light of Mr. Slater’s claims was vital. “Now we are told Agent Orange is dumped there, it would be sensible to do some further investigations and perhaps drill some further bore holes, and try to get a sense of what is under there. We know that’s all landfill down there, and sooner or later it’s going to leach out. It’s also in a close proximity to Clearwater Beach, a popular bathing area.” BLDC spokesman Richard Calderon confirmed waste material was dumped in the area in question. He said: “It is important to note that the United States completed a rather exhaustive and expensive clean up of this area as a part of and prior to the turnover of the base lands to the Government of Bermuda. It is the BLDC’s practice to perform environmental testing on all sites earmarked for residential or commercial development. The BLDC has no current plans to develop the secured area in question.” A spokesman for the US Air Force declined to comment on Friday but said a response could be forthcoming this week.

June 25. Forty years ago he was just doing his job — but the devastating effects of the role he played in the disposal of Agent Orange at Kindley Air Force Base will haunt Ronald Slater forever. Not only does he believe his own severe health problems were induced by exposure to the toxic chemical, Mr. Slater also has to live with the guilt of the damage it could have caused to Bermuda’s environment. Every couple of weeks from 1965 to 1967, the ex-US Air Force serviceman says empty barrels of Agent Orange and other poisonous substances were poured into huge pits at the base, before he watched as they were set alight and thick fumes drifted over nearby homes in St. David’s. The waste would usually continue burning for two or three days before Mr. Slater was ordered to bulldoze the remains into the sea at Annie’s Bay, perilously close to where some people would swim. When he first started carrying out the work, Mr. Slater says he did not even wear any protective clothing. After six months, he complained his activities frequently made him sick and for the next year and a half was given what he describes as an old fireman’s hood. It’s hardly surprising that some four decades later the 64-year-old is retired through ill health — suffering Type Two diabetes, a small tumor on his arm and a large growth on his kidney. Type Two diabetes has been strongly linked to Agent Orange exposure, while experts say it cannot be ruled out that Mr. Slater’s other conditions are a result of the same thing; although scientists have identified no links to date. Speaking to The Royal Gazette, Mr. Slater recalled the events at the base as if they happened yesterday. “They would pour the Agent Orange and other stuff down the bank into the pits before lighting it on fire. It would take a couple of days for it to burn,” he said. “After it was burnt down, it would have a red hot glow. I would take a bulldozer and go down the hill into the pits and bulldoze anything and everything left over right into the ocean. I did this about every other week. A great amount of it would sink immediately. A lot of it would float, but as it got more saturated, that would sink as well.” Hundreds of barrels of Agent Orange, as well as other waste including the toxic Agent Blue, were brought into Bermuda during the 1960s, says Mr. Slater. He says Agent Orange, a powerful defoliant, was sprayed on perimeter fences of the base to stop the growth of foliage which could act as a hiding place for anybody wanting to break in. He also believes many barrels were brought in from elsewhere as the Island was effectively used as a dumping ground. “There were so many barrels over a six to eight month period, I’m sure that was what happened,” he said. Aged in his early 20s when he was first instructed to bulldoze waste, Mr. Slater said he did not immediately comprehend the consequences — not least because Agent Orange’s notoriety was not yet established. “At the time I felt like I was thrilled to have a job,” he said, “but as I got older I realised I was a party to creating a toxic environment that I believe is still there. I identified it as Agent Orange by the types of the barrels. I wasn’t that naive or stupid not to at least look at the numbers on the barrels. But at the time I gave no thought to the band or the colour of the liquid.” The dangers of Agent Orange may not have been widely known, but Mr. Slater said his colleagues regularly aired worries about what was going on. “My only concern became if I didn’t get protection no matter what I was breathing it would eventually do me harm. Other people working there were concerned about their health. My fellow worker, he would come out of those pits filthy dirty. I was falling ill after six months, I was flu-ish all the time. I asked if I could have hooded protection and they gave me an old fireman’s hood, but I still had the same unprotected clothes. The damage was already done.” His deteriorating health has prompted a battle for compensation from the US Government which, he says, has failed to recognize that Agent Orange was used anywhere other than Vietnam. “I have always been an athlete. You can be an athlete all your life, but to have Type Two diabetes and a growth it makes you realize you are no longer the healthy specimen that you were. And it’s because of something you were ordered to do,” he said. “As I have got much older, now I’m in my 60s, I have got a level of anger that my own country will not acknowledge me.” Mr. Slater’s illnesses could also be partly attributed to spells he spent dealing with toxic substances, including Agent Orange which he says he worked with in Puerto Rico. He also has fears for the future of the land at the site, adding: “They would take a barrel and dump it. The liquid would run out of them and into the ground and that would still be there now. If I had to bet, I would guess someone filled the pits with dirt. I can trust to one thing: whatever was poured out into the ground needs to be very systematically excavated. If there was to be any development there in the form of human occupancy, there would be a serious threat. What if kids were playing on the ground there? There needs to be a massive excavation first.”

June 25. No evidence suggests Agent Orange was used at Bermuda's Baselands, Works and Engineering Minister Dennis Lister told a press conference today. Mr. Lister was reacting to former US Air Force serviceman Ronald Slater's claims that vast amounts of the lethal defoliant were dumped at Kindley Air Force Base during the 1960s. The Minister downplayed Mr. Slater's allegations that numerous barrels of the toxin now said to cause horrific disfigurements and severe long-term illness to those exposed to it were poured into deep pits before being burned for days, sending poisonous fumes over St. David's homes. The claims made by the US veteran are without foundation, said Mr. Lister today. "Mr. Slater believes his condition has been caused by Agent Orange but he has not presented any evidence to support his claims that have been reported in the local media. Mr. Slater also believes Agent Orange was used in Bermuda. There is no evidence presented to support this. In fact, our evidence indicates that Agent Orange was not here." However, Mr. Lister said technical officers were urgently researching the claims and would report their findings to him in two weeks. He said soil samples taken at the time the US left the site showed no signs of contaminants, while more tests taken at the time of any land transaction have also returned negative. For the full story and reaction, see tomorrow's Royal Gazette.

June 25. Agent Orange — so-called because of the colour of the stripes on the drums in which it was imported — is a defoliant which was extensively used during the Vietnam War to clear jungles. It contained one of the most virulent poisons known to man, a strain of dioxin called TCCD. It killed the rainforest before spreading to the food chain and, according to some, leading to a proliferation of birth deformities. Vietnamese Red Cross records trace birth defects in 150,000 “Agent Orange babies” back to their parents’ exposure to the chemical during the war or the consumption of dioxin contaminated food since the war ended in 1975. It has also been linked to a string of health problems among veterans, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia, soft-tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, Type Two diabetes, prostate cancer and chloracne. Dr. Mark Brown, director of environmental agency services at the US Department of Veterans Affairs, has studied its effects. He said former US Air Force serviceman Ronald Slater, who claims to have been involved in its disposal at Kindley Air Force Base during the 1960s, could have suffered health difficulties as a result. Mr. Slater currently has Type Two diabetes, a large growth on his kidney and a small tumor on his arm. “If a Vietnam veteran was diagnosed with Type Two diabetes they would have the benefit of the presumption that it was caused by exposure to Agent Orange,” said Dr. Brown. “There’s no evidence today to tie any form of skin cancer to Agent Orange exposure, but new information can change that at any time.” Dr. Brown said of toxic smoke sent over St. David’s when the substance was burned: “That could be dangerous. You sure couldn’t get away with that type of disposal today. Dioxins from incineration has been a big concern.” However, he said it would be practically impossible to test the effects on residents’ health because the source of dioxins in the blood cannot be proved, especially if they have been there many years. “There’s no real measurement now to verify what happened. When veterans ask about testing like that we discourage them. It can be very expensive and you can’t prove anything much from it.” On the condition of land at the base 40 years later, he said: “Once there’s a question about any kind of site like that, you have to look at historical records, or do some soil sampling. If the site is derelict, that’s saying something. The larger concern would be the dioxin. Herbicide may have degenerated by now, but dioxins compared to other chemicals are very stable and do not degrade so easily. You could have soil contamination with dioxins.”

June 25.  It remains unknown exactly what American military activities took place for close to 40 years at Kindley Air Force Base, but one thing is no secret: huge question marks hung over the state of the land handed back to Bermuda 12 years ago. The condition of the site — as well as another US base at Southampton Naval Annex, now known as Morgan’s Point — formed major discussions between the two countries’ Governments. At one stage it was estimated it would cost anything up to $65 million to clean up materials such as asbestos, hazardous waste including paint, batteries and oil, PCB chemicals, underground storage tanks and solid wastes. That figure was later downplayed, but some have argued the $11 million eventually paid by the US to Bermuda in compensation was never enough. When the land, which the US had occupied since 1941, was given back to Bermuda in 1995, toxicology specialists Cantox of Canada and environmental contractor RT Environmental Services of Pennsylvania were brought in to carry out studies. They drilled more than 2,000 holes and took samples from both bases before filing reports to the US Navy, which had been responsible for the sites in the latter years of the American occupation. The Department of Environmental Protection Hydro geologist in Bermuda says thorough investigations were carried out at all known dump sites and potential sources of leaks. It says if dumping of pesticides such as Agent Orange had been observed or reported at the time, this would have been taken into account during the investigation. Over the past 12 years, Bermuda Land Development Company has spent millions of dollars on environmental remediation work at the former Baselands. One of the biggest talking points has been the presence of more than 500,000 gallons of viscous oil and sludge which seeped into Bassett’s cave at Morgan’s Point, and an adjacent Jet Fuel Plume comprising 55,000 gallons of fuel. United Bermuda Party MP Grant Gibbons, who was Management and Technology Minister in the mid 1990s, said Government should have held out for more cash from the US. “We were so upset when the PLP settled for $11 million, which was only the cost of repairing Longbird Bridge,” said Dr. Gibbons. “Efforts to get the US Navy to clean up the mess they have left us with were never resolved satisfactorily.”

June 25. Work on the Land Title Regulation Bill is expected to start in the autumn. The bill will change the way in which deeds and documents are dealt with following the completion of certain property transactions. It will also mean that all deeds will be held at the office of the Land Title Registry Office — instead of at people’s homes or at the Registry General. Minister of Works and Engineering Dennis Lister told the House of Assembly: “The process of the Land Title Registration will then involve the legal authentication of rights or interests in a parcel of land and the creation of a definitive record of ownership in the form of the Land Title Register following which it will no longer be necessary to undertake lengthy investigation of title each time a property is sold or mortgaged.” He added that it will reduce the likelihood of disputes concerning ownership. Already a Project Team has been established and includes land registration professionals, lawyers and surveyors. They have been holding public meetings as well as other stakeholders. The team have also created a Public Consultation Document which has been published on the Government website, gov.bm.

June 25. After serving 12 years as the Anglican Bishop of Bermuda, Bishop Ewan Ratteray has announced his retirement, which will take place next year. Bishop Ratteray has served the second longest stint in office after that of Bishop Arthur Heber Browne who was in this position for 24 years. Sixty-six years-old when he relinquishes his post on March 30 next year, Bishop Ratteray said he gave notice now so that the church had plenty of time to think and pray for a suitable successor. Bishop Ratteray said: 'It is my hope that the life of the Diocese will continue to prosper and grow in the years to come under a new Father in God." The Archbishop of Canterbury, who has authority over Bishops of the Diocese of Bermuda, has been informed and the Synod of the Anglican Church of Bermuda was told in a meeting on Saturday.

June 25. Pressure on doctors has been eased by a new on-call system at the Maternity Ward at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, Health Minister Michael Scott told fellow MPs. An obstetrician — childbirth specialist — is now available at weekends, thus giving a break to medics who would otherwise be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Minister said the new system was one of the most significant new initiatives of the year as he tabled Bermuda Hospitals Board’s annual report for 2005-06. Other projects throughout the year included the changing of the name of St. Brendan’s mental health facility to the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute to break the stigma associated with the institution. The hospital also launched an Ethics Consultation Service, to help patients and families deal with the often complex decisions related to care and the impact those decisions have on their lives. Experts at the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation praised the move, according to Mr. Scott. Meanwhile, BHB supported a total of 14 post-secondary students and staff with scholarships, giving them the chance to pursue academic studies in areas of healthcare including nursing, occupational therapy, psychology, physical therapy, pharmacy, social work and diagnostic imaging. Mr. Scott pledged the hospitals would become “truly centres of excellence” under the new leadership of BHB chairman Herman Tucker and CEO David Hill, with outside help from American consultants Kurron Shares. He said the Johns Hopkins review, due for completion in the coming weeks, would help this.

June 25. The Court of Appeal this morning upheld the decision of the Chief Justice not to gag the media from reporting further revelations from a leaked Police dossier on the Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC) scandal. However, the ruling does not mean full details of the top-secret file are likely to become public just yet. The Police Commissioner and Attorney General, who have been seeking the injunction against the media, are now seeking permission to take their fight to the Privy Council in London,  the highest court of appeal in the UK. It was revealed in court this morning that the Privy Council was poised to hear legal arguments about this at 10.30 a.m. this morning, just 30 minutes after the Court of Appeal delivered its ruling. However, President Justice Edward Zacca said this was not necessary. Instead, he and fellow judges Gerald Nazareth and Sir Austin Ward will hear lawyer Delroy Duncan, representing Commissioner George Jackson and Attorney General Philip Perinchief, argue in favour of going to the Privy Council tomorrow morning. Saul Froomkin QC, representing this newspaper and sister paper the Mid-Ocean News told the court he would oppose this. In the meantime, the judges ordered that Bermuda's broadcasting organizations and the Bermuda Sun should not report further material from the dossier until the matter is decided. The Mid-Ocean News and The Royal Gazette have agreed to extend a previous undertaking made not to do. The judges also ordered the Police Commissioner and Attorney General to pay the legal costs of the media organizations relating to the appeal. The ruling came after Chief Justice Richard Ground ruled a week ago that the right of the public to know about the probe into serious allegations about public figures including Premier Ewart Brown outweighed concern that the file was a confidential Police document. Police Commissioner George Jackson and Attorney General Philip Perinchief launched the action against the Island's media outlets after ZBM and the Mid-Ocean News published extracts from the documents on May 23 and June 1 respectively. The leaked dossier, said to run to thousands of pages, reportedly revealed that Dr. Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith, former Minister Renee Webb and construction boss Zane DeSilva were investigated by Police looking into allegations of corruption at the BHC. The Commissioner and Attorney General asked for a ban on the so-far unpublished sections being reported, although the contents have not been revealed during the court hearings. After Mr. Justice Ground ruled against them, the pair took their fight to the Court of Appeal. The Police investigation into the source of the leak to the media has seen three arrests, but no charges. Two men were detained and released earlier this month. Auditor General Larry Dennis - the Government's fiscal watchdog -- was arrested and released after 24 hours in custody last week.

June 26. Premier Ewart Brown launched a stinging attack on the justice system after the Court of Appeal refused to gag the media over a leaked Police dossier on the Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC) corruption allegations. The Police and Attorney General — who pressed for the reporting blackout — will today make a last ditch attempt to appeal the decision before the Privy Council, the highest possible court. Dr. Brown has accused the Opposition of engineering the leak in a pre-election bid to destabilize his Government, and has initiated libel action against the media over published extracts from the dossier. According to a statement from Dr. Brown’s spokesman Glenn Jones, if the Privy Council bid fails to gag further publications: “Bermuda’s long standing supremacist oligarchy would be vested with legal license to intensify the ongoing UBP/media tyranny.” The statement conveys the Premier’s anger at yesterday’s Court of Appeal verdict, which cemented a ruling by Chief Justice Richard Ground that freedom of the press to report on the BHC probe outweighs concern that the documents are confidential. “This is a disappointing day for all Bermuda’s innocent citizens. Our judiciary has taught us confidential documents related to Police investigations are fit to print - even if the subjects of the investigation have been fully exonerated of criminal wrongdoing,” he said. “The ruling seems grossly unfair and is a devastating blow to public confidence in the Police. Nonetheless the jurists have spoken and their determination, or the determination of a higher court, must be honored because Bermuda is a country of laws and good order.” According to Mr. Jones: “The Premier is convinced the publication of information from stolen confidential Police files, of an investigation that had concluded and closed five years ago, was conceived and executed by perpetrators as a public lynching of prominent targets in the current and past PLP administrations. The plotters patently set out to do a political hatchet job on the PLP leadership as the Party’s support was cresting with the celebration of Dame Lois Browne Evans’ life - at a time when UBP sources had predicted that a General Election would be called. The court was asked to adjudicate on the prevention of public access to stolen official documents in a despicable political plot in which lies, half truth and innuendoes had been thoroughly investigated. The Chief Justice’s ruling and the ruling today legitimates the publication of any and all allegations lodged with law enforcement agencies, whether factual or not, whether in execution of conspiracies to commit public mischief or not.” Police Commissioner George Jackson and Attorney General Philip Perinchief launched the legal action against the Island’s media outlets after ZBM and the Mid-Ocean News published extracts from the documents on May 23 and June 1 respectively. The leaked dossier - said to run to thousands of pages - reportedly revealed that Dr. Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith, former Minister Renée Webb and construction boss Zane DeSilva were investigated by Police looking into allegations of corruption at the BHC. The Commissioner and Attorney General asked for a ban on the so-far unpublished sections being reported, although the contents were not revealed during the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal hearings. The Commissioner and Attorney General alleged during those proceedings that the dossier was stolen from Police custody, as has Dr. Brown in comments to the media. However, the Chief Justice noted in his judgment that it is “not at all clear” whether documents have been removed from the possession of the Police with the intention of permanently depriving them, which could amount to theft, or whether the documents have simply been copied and released, which may not. The Police investigation into the source of the leak has seen three arrests, but no charges. Two men were detained and released earlier this month. Auditor General Larry Dennis - the Government’s fiscal watchdog - was arrested and released after 24 hours in custody last week. The Premier’s spokesman said in his statement yesterday: “As Premier Brown has stated publicly, he is not overly concerned with protecting the information relating to him because he has been exhaustively investigated and fully exonerated in a probe conducted by the Bermuda Police Service, Scotland Yard and US Homeland Security. “The Premier is more concerned about what it means for others who are persecuted in the press even though they were never prosecuted in court.” Reacting to yesterday’s events, lawyer and PLP supporter Julian Hall said: “I would be stunned, absolutely surprised, if this matter doesn’t in due course end up before the Privy Council.” Mr. Hall said the test for that decision is whether or not the case raises matters of law of substantial public importance, and he believes no-one can suggest otherwise. He estimated that if permission is granted for a Privy Council appeal, it could take a minimum of six months to be heard. John Barritt, the United Bermuda Party’s spokesman on justice, said he felt the Premier’s comments “bordered on contempt of court bearing in mind the strong, intemperate language used to criticize both the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal”. He said the public should bear in mind comments made by the Chief Justice in his ruling about how freedom of the press is particularly important on matters concerning conduct in public office. “The United Bermuda Party would like the people to take note of the extraordinary lengths Government is going to in this matter, at extraordinary costs. Whose interests are they advancing now?” he asked, estimating the legal fees will head into hundreds of thousands of dollars. Prominent lawyer Timothy Marshall dismissed the Premier’s comments as “nothing more than political propaganda designed to confuse Bermudians into believing that somehow the Court of Appeal judgment has hurt this country”. Mr. Marshall said last night: “Access to information and freedom of the press are two of the greatest protections all Bermudians have against the potential excesses of whatever party happens to be in power. The public interest has been greatly protected by this judgment because it ensures that all Bermudians have the right to examine, ask questions about and debate the conduct, alleged or actual, of those individuals we elect to represent us.” Editor of The Royal Gazette Bill Zuill said: “We are very pleased that the Court of Appeal has today upheld the Chief Justice’s ruling in a case that is of great public importance. Two courts consisting of four eminent judges have now upheld our position and we are disappointed, although not surprised, that the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Police are now seeking to extend this process further by taking this matter to the Privy Council. I would add that there appears to be a fundamental, and I hope not deliberate, misunderstanding on the part of some concerning this case. In the initial hearing of this case, Chief Justice Richard Ground had to balance whether the right to freedom of expression over a matter of public interest concerning allegations against public officials overrode the right to confidentiality held, in this case, by the Police. He ruled in our favour on that point and we assume the Court of Appeal has now upheld that. The Chief Justice did not, and could not, rule on whether the documents had in fact been stolen, and it is wrong to keep stating that they were as if it was a matter of proven fact. It would also be quite wrong to suggest, as the Premier seems to today, that the recent decisions give rise to the inference that any and all other and all other Police investigations can now be made public as a matter of course. I do not believe this to be the case and I can only assume the Premier was not briefed by the Attorney General before he made that statement.”

June 26. Hours after the Mid-Ocean News published revelations from the leaked BHC Police files the Premier was on national TV threatening to withdraw cooperation with the Governor unless he helped to catch the leakers. That statement alone, made before Government stoked up the pressure further by attempting to gag the media from using more from the files, prompted viewers throughout Bermuda to ask themselves 'What is he so afraid of?' In the same public address the Premier said the BHC investigation had exonerated him from any unlawful act. Yet rather than leave it there Dr. Brown went on the offensive claiming a "politically linked conspiracy involving high offices" was behind the leak. The Premier's handling of the whole affair has been questioned by numerous commentators including critics within his own party. One PLP MP, speaking on condition of anonymity last week, told The Royal Gazette: "It is not so much what has been reported. Are there other things coming? No one has anyway of knowing. They don't know, that's the point. "People are very concerned, they want to see what else is there, they want the gag lifted." Last week the Premier indicated he wasn't afraid of further revelations. He told Hott 107.5 radio: "I want to repeat — they can reveal anything they have in the file about me personally. I know that we are totally in the clear and have been exonerated after an investigation that apparently included Scotland Yard, the FBI and Homeland Security, so there was no issue there." However he dismissed calls for him to answer specific allegations leveled at him in the leaked Police dossier. He said: "Where do I start? Am I supposed to start answering allegations just because they're included in a Police investigation? 'When did you stop beating your wife?' and then it becomes ridiculous and I think it's demeaning, it's embarrassing, it's insulting." Dr. Brown has also issued a writ in conjunction with Nelson Bascome for libel and slander against the Island's media organizations over reports of material from the Police file. The writ has not yet been served and the specific details of the allegations against the media are not known. Assessing the aftermath of a tumultuous month for Bermuda, former Independent MP Stuart Hayward said: "I am inclined to wonder why the big spike in reaction? "If this is old news then the thing it seems to me to do is to is to say we have looked at this before and say 'I denied it then and I am denying it again. But looking back I don't think there has been a point by point denial so I do have grave concerns given the Premier's habitual style that he's not answering questions that have been asked and he's using other issues to divert attention. I think his skill is that he knows many of his audience, he knows that they will respond emotionally rather than necessarily to the logical and he's pushing the emotional buttons of the people who he wants to continue to support him. Unfortunately for him I think not all of us are distracted from what to me is an issue that was never resolved." Mr. Hayward said when the BHC case first came about there seemed to be so many people involved but ultimately only one person, who was low on the totem poll, was charged. The call for a Royal Commission was not about repeating the investigation but to get an understanding of why others weren't called in for questioning, said Mr. Hayward. "Why was $8 million written off? That's public funds. There's been no satisfactory answers to these types of questions despite the protestations and red herrings. These concerns and these questions still need to be answered." Opposition leader Michael Dunkley said: "I was surprised at the reaction from the Premier of the country — that kind of reaction is like you are trying to cover things up when the opposite reaction should be it's about time we had full and frank open discussions on the subject." He said the Premier should have acknowledged concern was in the community and assured people that things were on the mend. "But it has manifested into something quite different from that so the questions remain." Asked if the Premier had used the Mid-Ocean story as a device to take on perceived enemies including the press, the Governor and the Auditor General, Mr. Dunkley said: "If that is the case then it doesn't show the type of leadership we need in Bermuda in this day and age. If you are elected in Bermuda, especially at the highest level of Premier or Cabinet you have the responsibility to be open and straightforward. You need to make sure you are beyond reproach." But he said the Premier's handling of the matter did Bermuda's reputation no good on the international stage. Former Bermuda Sun editor Tom Vesey said he too was perturbed by the Premier's handling of the BHC fall-out. He said: "If I was him I would have yawned and kept quiet about it but he drew attention to it which raises obvious questions of why he is so scared or upset by this which makes you think what does he have to hide? You always have to be really, really suspicious of any activity by Government which it is so keen to keep quiet. I cannot think of anything that a Premier or Cabinet minister could or should do that he should be ashamed of or unwilling to have in the open." Some apologists for the Premier have said publishing accusations from Police files sets a dangerous precedent — that anyone so named could have their reputation shredded by someone keen to divert blame while they were being grilled by Police. But Mr. Vesey said: "That's completely ridiculous. I cannot think of any other incident where this has happened. It isn't a trend or a problem we have with missing Police records." He said the leaked documents raised strong questions about the behavior of the nation's leader and needed to be examined no matter how they reached the public. Of the Premier's protestations that he had been exonerated, Mr. Vesey said: "That's completely untrue, all that happened is the acting Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to prosecute. That's not the way to judge our political leaders — whether or not they are convicted criminals. Our standards are far higher than that. "He said in life plenty of illegal things were not prosecuted. And just because something is not illegal or prosecuted doesn't mean it is the right or good that our leaders should be doing it." He said there were so many unanswered questions from the allegations which had just been vaguely dismissed. "That's not good enough. Like it or not these allegations are out there." And if some make the case that the allegations pale into insignificance compared to the good that the Premier is doing in other areas Mr. Vesey said: "He might have done amazing things for tourism but that is completely separate from BHC. It doesn't give him the freedom to do whatever he wants with BHC." In taking on the Governor, Auditor General and press, the Premier tackled in one fell swoop three of his perceived enemies. Mr. Vesey said it was no coincidence. "If he's done anything wrong, these are the people who are going to expose it." He said only the Police were left to expose potential wrongdoing.

June 26. Attempts by the Attorney General and Police Commissioner to gag the media over a leaked Police dossier over the Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC) corruption allegations will be heard in the UK. Their lawyer, Delroy Duncan, was this morning successful in persuading Bermuda's Court of Appeal to refer the matter to the Privy Council in London as a matter of "major public importance". However, the media remains temporarily gagged until the appeal is heard which could take months. Mr. Duncan argued this morning that the appeal would be rendered pointless if the media is not barred from making further revelations in the meantime. Bermuda's broadcasting organizations and the Bermuda Sun have been banned by first the Supreme Court and later the Court of Appeal from reporting further material since the injunction proceedings were launched by the AG and Commissioner earlier this month. The Court of Appeal panel - President Justice Edward Zacca, Sir Austin Ward and Gerald Nazareth - said they had no power to extend the order. Meanwhile, the Mid-Ocean News and The Royal Gazette have on a number of occasions agreed to extend a voluntary undertaking not to publish further extracts from the dossier. However, Saul Froomkin QC, representing those newspapers, told the court this morning: "They are now in a position where they say they are not able or prepared to give an undertaking and if they are going to be prevented from publishing in the public interest, they want some court to tell them that." However, Mr. Duncan then revealed that the Privy Council was in fact sitting in London simultaneously with this morning's Bermuda court hearing. Preliminary reports reaching The Royal Gazette are that it has banned all Bermuda's media organizations from publishing further material at this stage. The court action was first initiated by Police Commissioner George Jackson and Attorney General Philip Perinchief earlier this month after ZBM and the Mid-Ocean News published extracts from the leaked Police file May 23 and June 1 respectively. The leaked dossier - said to run to thousands of pages - reportedly revealed that Dr. Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith, former Minister Renee Webb and construction boss Zane DeSilva were investigated by Police looking into allegations of corruption at the BHC. The court arguments which have gone in favour of the media in both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal have been between the need to protect confidential documents and the right of the media in democratic societies to report on serious allegations against public figures. Dr. Brown has accused the Opposition of engineering the leak in a pre-election bid to destabilize his Government, and has initiated libel action against the media over published extracts from the dossier. The Police investigation into the source of the leak has seen three arrests, but no charges. Two men were detained and released earlier this month. Auditor General Larry Dennis - the Government's fiscal watchdog - was arrested and released after 24 hours in custody last week. * Read more on this story and further reports on the BHC issue in tomorrow's edition of The Royal Gazette.

June 26. "Bring it on." That was Michael Dunkley’s response after Premier Ewart Brown claimed re-opening a Police probe into illegal drugs involving Dunkley’s Dairy staff could prove embarrassing for the Opposition leader. And Mr. Dunkley said the Premier was seeking to shift the emphasis from embarrassing allegations coming out of the leaked BHC files. Yesterday Dr. Brown voiced his dismay at the Supreme Court ruling which he said meant all confidential Police files were fit to print. That decision meant other people could be persecuted even though they were never prosecuted said Dr. Brown. He added: “The Opposition Leader comes to mind because we all know a former employee at his company was prosecuted for smuggling drugs while on the job. “It’s my understanding Police questioned Mr. Dunkley. If those Dunkley Police files were stolen from the confines of the Police Department and splashed in the newspapers, it would be grossly unfair; I expect there would be a lot of embarrassing, if not suspicious, information about the Opposition Leader in those old Police files. It would be wrong for those unproven investigative findings to become media fodder.” And the Premier continued that the Opposition Party Chairman Shawn Crockwell also came to mind. He said Mr. Crockwell was: “An ex-con who infamously stole $600,000 worth of drugs from the courts. Only about $100,000 of the stolen drugs was ever recovered, according to published reports. But the UBP Chairman served his time and as far as the community is concerned he repaid his debt. If someone conspired to sensationalize his 10-year-old Police files in the press, I would be eager to help him fight off the conspirators - even though much of what he took is still missing. This legal fight is not only about protecting the innocent, but the rehabilitated as well. It is about protecting the good names and good reputations of all citizens.” Speaking from London where he has been meeting British politicians and diplomats, Mr. Dunkley said the Premier was “desperate and irrational. The fact of the matter is with the drug case two individuals were tried and convicted.  I am happy to have that case opened up. I have nothing to hide and would be pleased to let it be in the public domain. If he wants to be rehashing it then fine — I doubt he wants to take that challenge. He said I was questioned — I was never questioned as a suspect, I was questioned as a witness and I went on the stand.” Two years ago two former Dunkley’s Dairy employees were convicted of conspiracy to import close to $3 million worth of marijuana in October 2003 in a Dunkley’s Dairy container. Michael Madeiros, 41 and Steven Flood, 39, were sentenced to ten year’s imprisonment. During the trial Mr. Dunkley took the witness stand and said the pair had confessed their guilt to him and he later told Parliament that he had picked up the tab for setting up surveillance cameras after Police said they could only afford an officer to monitor it. Mr. Dunkley said yesterday: “I don’t have anything to hide — that’s the difference between myself and my colleague — and the Premier. “It is a sad day for Bermuda when the Premier has to resort to these type of tactics. I stand by my reputation and integrity and will match that with the Premier any time. As far as the party chairman is concerned I am very disappointed he is attacking a colleague. Everyone is well aware this case was dealt with in the courts and a proper sentence was meted out. That matter is gone now and I stand by my colleague. I find it absolutely ridiculous the Premier of the island would now try to take the focus off his very real problems and shift it to other issues.” And Mr. Crockwell said he too had nothing to hide. “I have exhaustively detailed my story in the press, my story has been an open book. However for clarification I pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, I gave full restitution of any profits. I paid my debt, overcame my struggle and have attained success. I have always been contrite for what I did.” Mr. Crockwell said he agreed with the Premier that private Police files should remain confidential but he claimed the United Bermuda Party had not been involved in the dissemination of the BHC files. “Why the Premier feels it necessary to attack me is something he has to answer for. The fact is there are unanswered questions concerning BHC.”

June 26. The leader of the Opposition condemned the Premier for leading the Island down a path that will lead to “no good”. Michael Dunkley spoke after Premier Dr. Ewart Brown claimed a UBP victory would mean a return of the 40 Thieves, a small white oligarchy that once ran the country. Mr. Dunkley said: “The Bermuda public has in the last 24 hours watched Dr. Ewart Brown lash out at people in a manner that demeans the Office of the Premier and insults people. “The Premier’s comment that a UBP victory at the polls would mean a return of the 40 Thieves to power is almost beneath comment, but not quite. Beyond the fact that it is hugely insulting to the good men and women of the UBP team, who have come together from all walks of life to build a better Bermuda, Dr. Brown is once again resorting to his “back to the plantation” rhetoric, which is very much about manufacturing bogeymen and conspiracies and very little about Bermuda today.” One must keep in mind that the Premier’s comments were made before and after the Court of Appeal judgment on matters related to the BHC scandal. It is clear he is trying to stir up enough controversy to cloud the hard realities of the BHC reports, which indicated widespread corruption at the highest levels of our government.” Mr. Dunkley also said Dr. Brown’s suggestion that the UBP leaked the allegedly stolen police dossier was incorrect, and a “red herring”. He reiterated that the UBP has condemned the leak and supported a Police investigation into the matter. He added that the author - ‘Son of Soil’ - of an email sent across the Island airing many of the allegations which the press have been barred from reporting claimed to be a disillusioned PLP supporter. Mr. Dunkley said: “The fact is that the Premier is not dealing with the allegations revealed in the BHC reports, and this must be a concern for everyone who wants Bermuda to do the right thing. Right now, people are wondering where his regime is taking the country. Everyday international press coverage is calling into question our commitment to open, democratic government, with some media even invoking the specter of Bermuda as a Police state. It is all hugely disappointing and disturbing. “We think the Premier would do well to explain himself fully. Right now, this Government is doing everything in its power to prevent people from knowing the truth.” He added that his party felt the Island could benefit, now more than ever, from a Royal Commission into the scandal.

June 26. Premier Ewart Brown is being urged by advisors to refuse to answer detailed questions about his BHC involvement because it would open the floodgates to further probing. That was the conclusion to an internal document given to The Royal Gazette by the Premier’s Press Secretary Glenn Jones in a damage limitation exercise after it was accidentally released. The document also surfaced on Facebook.com and blog politics.bm yesterday. Mr. Jones did not divulge the author, but said: “It was intended as an internal document but I accidentally sent it to some people in my address book and instead of trying to recall it I thought why not send it to everybody. In my view, it’s better out there in the public domain than in my desk drawer.” The memo claims the BHC probe had exonerated targeted members of the PLP Government but had then been leaked to the press to scupper a summer election. The document reads: “ "Five years later, as predictions for a July election by UBP spokespersons, newspaper editorial writers and columnists had hit high decibel levels, and precisely when the passing of Dame Lois Browne Evans had ignited black consciousness and PLP solidarity to an unprecedented level, two adversaries of the PLP Administration conspired with ZBM and The Royal Gazette/Mid Ocean News to use stolen Police files to sensationalize allegations of illegality in a calculated hatchet job against PLP targets.” The Premier’s simulcast statement on the publication of the stolen material elicited immediate and requested action by the Governor, who promptly invited Scotland Yard to investigate the theft of the Police files.

June 26. An American veteran is prepared to fly out to Bermuda to help the investigation into his claims lethal defoliant Agent Orange was dumped and burned at Kindley Air Force Base in the 1960s. Ronald Slater, 64, of Washington State, wants to work with Government officials testing for poisonous dioxins he believes could still be in the ground at the former base today. Yesterday, Works and Engineering Minister Dennis Lister downplayed the ex-US Air Force serviceman’s allegations that numerous barrels of the toxin were poured into deep pits before being burned for several days, sending thick smoke over St. David’s homes. In a press conference, Mr. Lister said no evidence suggested Agent Orange was used on the Island. However, Mr. Slater remains adamant that he played a role in the disposal of the chemical, along with other toxic wastes, by bulldozing the charred remains into the sea. “If need be I will return to Bermuda and show locations and give testimony,” said Mr. Slater, who suspects his Type Two diabetes is attributable to exposure to Agent Orange. “If Mr. Lister’s downplaying it, all I can say is this is what I understand I contributed to. All I can do is offer my honesty and integrity. I believe those photographs (which ran in The Royal Gazette yesterday) speak a thousand words. There was no way in hell the stuff they put in those pits was nothing but cardboard and wood.” Mr. Slater said he would need someone to foot the bill for his 5,000-mile flight to the Island and reassurance that he would not face action over his part in the Baselands activities. Works and Engineering Permanent Secretary Derrick Binns said he would be happy for Mr. Slater to get in touch. “The most important thing is to go through his own Government, but we are not going to turn away someone who wants to talk to us,” said Dr. Binns. Speaking at the press conference, Mr. Lister said: “The claims made by the US veteran are without foundation. Mr. Slater believes his condition has been caused by Agent Orange but he has not presented any evidence to support his claims that have been reported in the local media. Mr. Slater also believes Agent Orange was used in Bermuda. There is no evidence presented to support this. In fact, our evidence indicates that Agent Orange was not here.” Mr. Slater says much of the herbicide soaked into the earth when the containers were emptied. Experts say if this happened it would remain a serious environmental risk today because the dioxins are so chemically stable they will not degrade over decades. Mr. Lister said technical officers were urgently researching Mr. Slater’s claims and would report their findings to him in two weeks. He said soil samples taken when the US left the site showed no signs of contamination, while more tests at the time of any land transaction have also been negative. Discussions with the Ministry of Health indicate no trend towards illness as a result of Agent Orange, he added. During the 1960s, millions of gallons of Agent Orange were sprayed across parts of Vietnam by the US military. Many war veterans who have suffered ill health after being exposed to its chemical clouds have since claimed compensation from the US Government. US Consul Gregory Slayton said America did not recognize Agent Orange had ever been used outside Vietnam. “The Department of Defence has consistently said for the past 25 years that Agent Orange was not used anywhere except in South East Asia in the Vietnam War. They are absolutely standing by that position,” he said. “Let me salute the Minister and his colleagues for getting it right on this. It’s important to test and see what’s there.” Mr. Slayton added that he had contacted the Department of Defence to request more information. Bermuda is the latest in a string of countries where the US has denied using Agent Orange, including Panama and Puerto Rico, and parts of America including Hawaii.

June 26. A representative of the Post Office’s Philatelic Bureau will be travelling to the 2007 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C. this week. Stanley Taylor, will take part in the festival themed “Roots of Virginia Culture” in keeping with the 400th Anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia. As part of the celebration, the bureau will present Senator John Warner (Rep. Virginia) a complimentary First Day Cover and full set of philatelic items from the Bermuda to Jamestown commemorative series that was released last week. The presentation will take place on June 27 in the Russell Senate Building. According to a press release, Recently, Bermuda has been acknowledging the historical ties between Jamestown, Virginia. In April, the Bermuda Regiment Band and other local bands travelled to the US to perform at the Virginia Tattoo. And again on June 21 when the Philatelic Bureau released its latest commemorative stamp series honoring Jamestown.

Bermuda Stamps - Jamestown 1 Bermuda Stamps - Jamestown 2

June 26. Friday marks the closure of the Medical Clinic and Government admits not all of the patients have been transferred to doctors. The impending closure was announced in the Premier’s Throne Speech in November, last year and the Ministry of Health along with the Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) have been coordinating the transfer of patients. In one last attempt to speak to patients the BHB announced a final closed meeting for tomorrow at 3.30 p.m. in the first floor conference room of the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. However, last week Permanent Secretary of Health Warren Jones conceded there was no way all patients will be transferred before the clinic doors close on Friday. “We recognize that some of the clients will not have been into the clinic before it ceases to provide clinical services,” he said. “Although it will no longer provide clinical services, there will be assistance available after June 30 for those patients to transfer to a physician. We encourage those who have not, to go to the clinic to receive assistance to transfer to a physician.” Mr. Jones further stated that if patients or participating physicians have questions they can contact the Chief Medical officer Dr. John Cann, the director of clinical services at BHB Kathy Lewis or himself at the Ministry of Health. The clinic, which will close on Friday, has been at the centre of controversy after Premier Ewart Brown announced its termination in the Throne Speech last November. In his speech, the Premier explained the clinic must be closed because of the assault on the patients dignity having to go to one clinic due to their financial situation. However, those opposed to the plan and some clinic patients demanded answers by collecting thousands of signatures and organizing two protest marches. At the end of May, the Ministry of Health mailed a pamphlet detailing the transition plan for the Medical Clinic patients to every resident on the Island. And on June 15, the newly appointed Minister of Health, Michael Scott read out the names of 23 doctors who will be available to patients of the closing clinic. However, Jenny Brookes, who campaigned against the closure, said months after the announcement and days before the clinic closes, there remained a lot of confusion. “The pamphlet that many citizens received in the mail outlining the so-called plan of the clinics closure may have put to rest some concerns the general public had about the clinic,” she said. “Think about the group of people this closure will affect. The reality is that a large percentage of the clinic patients do not have a fixed abode or mailing address so they did not receive the pamphlet and it was not available in the clinic for the patients to read.” And Ms. Brookes contends there are questions still for patients who need the services of the clinic such as medical supplies like dressings. A daughter of a medical clinic patient contacted The Royal Gazette along these lines, saying she was unsure how she will be able to afford the dressings, which will cost her $250 to $300 a month. She said: “I tried to buy the supplies for my mother on my own for a while, but I just can’t afford it. She doesn’t see a doctor there because she needs someone to visit her at home. I’ve asked the people at the medical clinic but none of them know what to tell me.” In response to her questions, Mr. Jones said: “Without dealing with the specific case you have raised, it is important to note that where individuals meet the criteria, and they have gone through the process that has been established, they will get assistance. Individuals such as the one you highlight should ensure that they have been to the clinic to be transferred. The clinic is aware of the services they require and can assist to address those matters.” The meeting for clinic patients tomorrow is closed to the public and the BHB has encouraged all patients with questions to attend.

June 26. Members of the Anglican Church of Bermuda yesterday expressed surprise but not shock over the retirement of Bishop Ewen Ratteray. On Saturday at a meeting of the Synod of the Anglican Church of Bermuda, Bishop Ratteray announced he will be stepping down from his position on March 30 next year. Bishop Ratteray will be 66-years-old when he retires as the first Bermudian and first black person to hold that position. And yesterday, Archdeacon Andrew Doughty said he was surprised at the announcement, but certainly not shocked as Bishop Ratteray has held the position for 12 years. He said: “He has done an excellent job in providing stability and unity for the Diocese of Bermuda. He has done a wonderful job of offering prayerful discipline for all of the people in the Diocese. He has been a good friend to many people.” Bishop Ratteray began his career studying at Codrington College in Barbados and was ordained Deacon in Bermuda in 1965 before moving to Yorkshire, England, to learn the ministry. While in Yorkshire he served in three positions starting as a Curacy in South Kirkby, then as a priest in charge in St. George’s, Sowerby and finally as the Vicar of Airedale for nine years before returning to Bermuda. In 1980 he moved back to the Island to serve as the Rector of Pembroke where he served for just under 16 years before he became the Bishop of Bermuda in 1996. On May 19 of that year, the Archbishop came to Bermuda to consecrate the first Bermudian and black Anglican Bishop to serve on the Island. And Thomas Nisbett, a retired Reverend who was at the meeting of the Synod, had hoped the Anglican Church may have been served a few more years before Bishop Ratteray retired. Rev. Nisbett said: “I am very sorry to hear about his departure. Bishops in the past, though, usually stayed five to six years and I suppose he has now served almost 12 years.” The next Bishop will be elected following the departure of Bishop Ratteray, after Easter next year. The Archbishop must first issue a mandate for the election of a new leader and according to Archdeacon Doughty that usually happens after a celebration and thanksgiving for all that Bishop Ratteray has done. Reverend Patrick White of St. Paul’s Church added: “We’re a little bit saddened by his departure. At this point we have reached a good period for the church. He has been through a number of frustrations, but he has carried them off with grace. He has been a pioneer.”

June 26. A Bermuda hotel has started work on a multi-million dollar new development, expected to be complete by the 2009 tourist season. The Reefs’ new project, a Private Residence Club (PRC) expected to cost “north of $50 million”, will be comprised of 19 two-and-three bedroom residences and will feature a spa on the patio of every unit. Residents will also have access to an infinity pool, whirlpool, club lounge and state-of-the-art fitness centre. The PRC will be located immediately west of The Reefs property and owner and Shadow Tourism Minister David Dodwell admits that he began looking at developing the area more than 25 years ago. He didn’t obtain the land until 2004 but calls the endeavor a “dream come true”. The units have been on sale for the past three weeks — $345,000 for a two-bedroom unit and $370,000 for three bedrooms - and have been selling well according to Mr. Dodwell, who said: “The response has been overwhelming and very positive.” He believes the units will take the hotel to the “next level” and allow The Reefs to compete with top hotels in the world, not just others on the Island. He said: “The world is our next level, not just our hotels down the street.” In addition to the PRC, the hotel will also be upgrading its spa from a two-room facility to one with seven luxury treatment rooms, create a larger kitchen with better ventilation and newer equipment and an ocean-edge dining room, extending to the cliff and overlooking the ocean. Mr. Dodwell explained that the PRC’s have the same concept as Tuckers Point and will be fractionally owned, meaning there will be ten owners per unit. When a unit is purchased the owners get to select the dates they will be residing there, but also have the right to use the unit whenever it is free, allowing more flexibility than with timeshares. Mr. Dodwell said: “We are extremely excited to break ground today. The Reefs is an international award-winning resort and widely recognized as one of the top hotels on the Island. Together with our project management team, Bermuda Project Managers Ltd., and our architectural team, Linberg & Simmons, we will now be able to provide the ultimate in luxury residential living and will upgrade our current hotel kitchen and spa facilities to further enhance our guests’ holiday experience.” Mr. Dodwell expects the new Private Residence Club to uphold The Reefs’ standards and said: “It will be a high-class, high-end luxury development. It will be a five star development”.

June 27. The most senior law lords in the UK will determine whether Bermuda’s media can report on a leaked Police dossier containing allegations about the Premier and other politicians — but their decision could be up to a year away. The Court of Appeal yesterday agreed to an application from the Attorney General and Police Commissioner to have the Privy Council in London decide whether Chief Justice Richard Ground was right to rule that the freedom of the press to report the allegations outweighed concern about the confidentiality of the file. Shadow Justice Minister John Barritt warned last night that the decision to take the case to the highest possible court for a British overseas territory could cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars — but legal consultant and Progressive Labour Party supporter Julian Hall claimed it was the only way to get a “pure legal decision”. In the meantime, the Island’s media remains temporarily gagged from reporting on the Police file, which concerns an investigation into corruption at Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC). Saul Froomkin QC, representing The Royal Gazette and its sister paper the Mid-Ocean News, told the Court of Appeal yesterday morning that the Government’s appeal against Mr. Justice Ground’s decision could take between eight and 12 months to be heard. He said the media would be prevented from publishing anything until then, despite winning two previous court hearings on the matter. AG Sen. Philip Perinchief and Police Commissioner George Jackson first applied for an injunction against all media after the Mid-Ocean News published stories on June 1 containing details from the BHC file. ZBM television news broadcast extracts on May 23. Mr. Justice Ground refused the application on June 18 and the Court of Appeal upheld his decision on Monday. Their judgment said: “We are unable to say that the learned Chief Justice wrongly exercised his discretion and we dismiss the appeal with costs.” Yesterday, the Privy Council’s judicial committee — sitting in Downing Street, London at the same time as the Court of Appeal on the Island — ordered that a ban on all media from publishing further material from the BHC file remain in place. Mr. Froomkin had earlier said that The Royal Gazette>and the Mid-Ocean News were no longer able or prepared to stick to a voluntary undertaking not to publish. “If they are going to be prevented from publishing in the public interest, they want some court to tell them that,” he said. Lawyer Delroy Duncan, for the AG and Mr. Jackson, told the Court of Appeal that the issue of whether a permanent injunction was granted was of “major public importance”. He said that appeal would be rendered pointless if the media was not barred from making further revelations in the meantime. The leaked dossier — said to run to thousands of pages — reportedly reveals that Premier Ewart Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith, former Minister Renee Webb, construction boss Zane DeSilva and others were investigated by Police looking into allegations of corruption at BHC. The court arguments which have gone in favour of the media in both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal have been between the need to protect confidential documents and the right of the media in democratic societies to report on serious allegations against public figures. Mr. Hall said he expected the Privy Council to give far more weight to the rights of the people named in the dossier than had Mr. Justice Ground. “He gave short shrift and paid no more than lip service to that,” said Mr. Hall. “I’m sure the Privy Council will find that curious.” He added: ‘When you get to the Privy Council, that’s when you get pure legal decisions unaffected by race or politics. The higher up the chain you go the more pure, I think, becomes the legal decisions made. They know how to factor out completely political considerations. None of this is a criticism of any judge.” Mr. Barritt said he was not surprised that the matter was going to the Privy Council or that the temporary ban remained in place. But he argued that the public had the right to know now what else was contained in the BHC file yet October was the earliest the Privy Council was likely to hear the matter. “This is going to keep a lid on goodness knows what else,” he said. “I think the public’s right to know is one that’s contemporaneous rather than historical.” Mr. Barritt added that an independent commission into the BHC case would have proved less costly than this legal route. “It will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, particularly if the costs are awarded against Government, which has been the case so far,” he said. “The people of the country will have to decide whether or not this has been pursued in their interest.” Dr. Brown has accused the Opposition of engineering the leak in a pre-election bid to destabilize his Government and has initiated libel action against the media over published extracts from the dossier. The Police investigation into the source of the leak has seen three arrests but no charges. Two men were detained and released earlier this month. Auditor General Larry Dennis - the Government’s fiscal watchdog - was arrested and released after 24 hours in custody last week. Bill Zuill, editor of The Royal Gazette, said: “We are pleased that the Court of Appeal accepted Saul Froomkin’s arguments that the Chief Justice exercised his discretion reasonably and correctly in making his initial decision. “We naturally accept the decision of the Court of Appeal to allow the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Police leave to appeal to the Privy Council. In those circumstances, whilst unfortunate, it is understandable that the Privy Council decided to grant a stay of the Court of Appeal’s judgment pending the hearing of the further appeal before it. “Having said that, the likely substantive effect of this may be to extend the ‘gag’ for at least three months and it goes without saying that we hope and will endeavor to appear before the Privy Council as soon as possible in the hope of bringing this process to an early close.” He added that the Gazette and the Mid-Ocean had opted not to continue their voluntary undertaking for two reasons. “One was that we did not believe that the Court of Appeal had the jurisdiction to grant a stay - and the Court of Appeal agreed - and therefore it would have been wrong to give an undertaking when our fellow defendants would have been under no such obligation. “Secondly, as Mr. Froomkin noted, we have given a series of undertakings since this began and we were concerned that giving another could be open-ended and we thought it preferable to be subject to a formal order of the court.”

June 27. Five teenagers have planned a protest against the political path they feel the Island is heading down. And they hope to show that Bermuda’s young adults are not apathetic when it comes to politics. The girls plan to greet MPs as they emerge from the House of Assembly for their lunch break on Friday with a peaceful protest over allegations of corruption and their belief that Bermuda is being pushed down the road towards independence. They stressed that they are bi-partisan but were compelled to protest after reading about recent events revolving around the claims made in an allegedly stolen police dossier into allegations of corruption. While only 16 and 17, Luisa Olander, Erin Jackson, Steph Hollis-Smith, Christie O’Doherty and Annefa Burke said they felt they had to do something because they were concerned about their future and the future of the Island. Their protest evolved from a Facebook group, a popular online community among the Island’s youth. The group was created on June 7 after Premier Ewart Brown threatened to suspend dealings with the Governor if he did not act to catch the people who leaked the police file to the media. Since then, as the BHC saga has continued, more than 400 people have joined the group - though some of the members are against the premise. Ms Jackson explained that the group formed because: “We will not accept ‘unethical behavior’ from any political party. “We’re not directly protesting against any specific events, although recent developments pertaining to the BHC report, including gagging the press and the arrest of the Auditor General have ignited our passion and impelled us to protest.” Ms O’Doherty, said: “What we are concerned about is having an accountable Government and the future of Bermuda. We want to inherit an Island that is stable and prosperous. But we want to make one thing clear, we are not anti-PLP. This has nothing to do with people’s political persuasion. If the UBP were saying and doing what the Government are currently doing we would be protesting as well.” Ms Burke said: “We want students and young adults and anyone else interested to come out and show politicians that we are paying attention to what is happening and are very worried about what we are hearing.” While Ms Olander said: “It’s scary to hear that the Cayman Islands are calling us a police state. We are the ones that will be coming back to the Island looking for jobs so we care about what is happening. It is also interesting because a lot of our friends will speak out on Facebook but may not actually show up. The passion is there but the motivation to act does not seem to be. And that is something we need to change. We need people to see that our generation is serious.” Ms O’Doherty added: “It’s important for people to realize that 18 is an important age, yes you get to drink in bars but you also get to vote. We want our peers to show that we should be taken seriously as voters.” The protest will begin at 12 p.m. at the Cenotaph in front of the Cabinet Building on Front Street and make its way to the House of Assembly on Court Street. It will last an hour and has been timed to coincide with the MP’s lunch hour. The girls obtained a permit for the protest because they have high hopes that many people from all ages, races and political groups, will be compelled to join them. The students also hope that the leaders of both parties will address them. The girls’ protest could also decide another thing - if the popularity of people debating politics on Facebook transcends to political action. There are 3,400 people on Facebook’s Bermuda network and invites to social and political events pop up everyday, along with groups formed for political parties and debate forums. Currently the girls’ group is the largest political one on the Island with more than 400 members, and debates take place daily on their forum. One would expect, with the popularity of the group, a large number of people will show up on Friday - but the girls said they have yet to gauge whether their online support will equal people actually turning up. The reach of Facebook on the Island has prompted politicians to join as well. The Premier was the first and Opposition Leader Michael Dunkley wasn’t far behind him. Groups supporting both men and parties have also sprung up. Facebook has also afforded the youth another opportunity to engage politicians. On Friday, Dr. Brown is hosting an “Open Mic with the Premier” at Greg’s Steak House from 6.15 pm until 8.15 p.m. Dr. Brown said he decided to hold the event after a 21-year-old Yale University student asked him on Facebook if he would be holding a town hall meeting this summer, for students who missed him on the his North American university tour. 

June 27. Britain has sounded the warning bells to corrupt and politically backward colonies — shape up or the Governor will sort you out. In a paper being circulated to Premiers and Chief Ministers of all the Overseas Territories, Lord Triesman, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said some jurisdictions were better managed than Britain. But he said others had governance issues. The paper, an updated version of a 2003, document said: "In certain Territories there are governance issues which need to be addressed — including corruption, financial management and regulation of financial services. In some cases, the lack of developed civil society, strong legislature and/or vibrant press mean there are few checks on the executive. The geographical location and size of some of the Overseas Territories make them vulnerable to drug-trafficking and associated crime." Lord Triesman has asked Governors to make it widely available locally and it has now been placed on the Bermuda Government House website and the website of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. But it was unclear last night what lay behind the reissuing of the paper which had only tiny amendments from the one issued four years ago, although it was thought allegations about the sale of Crown lands in Turks and Caicos might have been a factor. Asked if any of the memo was a directed at Bermuda, Deputy Governor Mark Capes said: "The document reflects the reports and views of all the overseas territories." The document says Britain's remaining territories vary considerably. It goes on: "Many of the Overseas Territories have made great strides in their own development. In some, standards of governance and implementation of international standards are equal to, or in some cases exceed, the standards in the UK. In others governance and implementation issues have given rise to concern. If not addressed, as well as having serious implications for the well-being of Overseas Territories citizens, they could give rise to significant contingent liabilities for the UK." The paper urged Governors to keep a close watch to ensure, among other things:

Lord Triesman said some territories might think those issues are beyond the bounds of Governors. But he said: "As long as the UK bears ultimate responsibility for the territories, and has a contingent liability if things go seriously wrong, UK Ministers see an important role for Governors in monitoring developments, and reporting to them areas of concern. In territories which are well-managed, this may mean that Governors may simply need to sustain full and productive dialogue. In territories giving rise to greater concern, Governors may need to play a more proactive role in these areas than hitherto. The aim throughout will be to deliver high standards of governance to the benefit of all Overseas Territories citizens." He said Governors would not be given new powers but should work with Governments to improve standards. Glenn Jones, the Premier's press secretary said last night: "The Premier has previously seen the document you asked about, but has no comment."

June 27.  American public affairs experts were called in as a favour to advise Premier Ewart Brown’s Press Secretary over his handling of the Bermuda Housing Corporation affair. Glenn Jones held an e-mail discussion with the boss of Park Row Campaign Management in which it was suggested Dr. Brown should refuse to answer detailed questions about his BHC involvement because it would open the floodgates to further probing. Earlier this week, Mr. Jones accidentally released the e-mail to groups in his address book before giving a copy to The Royal Gazette in a damage limitation exercise. Yesterday, Park Row president Joseph Romanelli insisted he had not received any payment from any group for his services — and that he was merely helping out Mr. Jones. “Park Row Campaigns has no relationship with the Premier, the Government or the PLP. Glenn Jones is an old friend and he asked for my input as our expertise is in public affairs and political communication,” said Mr. Romanelli. Asked whether any payment had been made, he replied: “I totally understand your concerns, but it was simply two friends chatting. Nothing more. And absolutely, not a penny or pound was exchanged. I have never worked for any of the people, parties or governments involved.” Ironically, in a move that would be interpreted in some quarters as pro-Dr. Brown spin, Mr. Romanelli added: “But he really didn’t need my input — the document struck me as strong and based entirely in fact. I firmly believe that truth is on the side of the Premier and that truth is hopefully being distributed to the people.” Park Row’s website states it has carried out public relations work for a host of American politicians, including Congressman Sherwood Boerlert, Oneida County Clerk Sandy Caruso and New York State Supreme Court’s Robert Julian. It also did publicity work for a number of projects including the Empire State Games in 2001. The e-mail between Mr. Jones and Mr. Romanelli later appeared on Facebook.com and blog politics.bm. It claimed the BHC probe had exonerated targeted members of the PLP Government but had then been leaked to the press to scupper a summer election. It contained a string of statements under the headline FACT, including a reference to “flagrantly malicious” motives by whoever leaked the dossier; and a suggestion that PLP voices “should be coordinated and massed like thunder” to condemn its release as “raining on the celebration of Dame Lois’ life”. Earlier this month, The Mid-Ocean News ran a story from a leaked Police dossier centering on allegations of corruption at BHC. The documents reportedly revealed that Dr. Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith and former Minister Renee Webb were all investigated by Police looking into the BHC allegations.

June 27. Principals, teachers and others working in the Island’s public schools will meet tomorrow to air fears that they are being left out of plans for crucial educational reform. The leaders of Bermuda Union of Teachers, the Association of School Principals and Bermuda Public Services Union claim Government is failing to involve or inform their organizations about changes planned for September. Mike Charles, general secretary of the BUT, told The Royal Gazette last night that an interim executive board set up in the wake of last month’s damning Hopkins Report - which concluded that the public school system was “on the brink of meltdown” - was meeting in secret to decide how to implement recommendations for improvement and excluding teachers from discussions. The board - chaired by Bank of Butterfield chief executive officer Philip Butterfield - has been tasked with pushing through improvements recommended by UK professor David Hopkins and his team, who carried out a review into the failing public school system earlier this year. “We don’t even know what’s happening; no one is talking to us,” said Mr. Charles. “Everything seems to be in secret. One would have thought that something would be said to at least one of the major stakeholders.” He questioned why teachers had not yet been told of changes planned for the start of the next school term - despite the summer term ending on Friday. “People have anxieties about the whole thing,” he said. “When people start meeting in secret, it gives people an uneasy feeling.” His comments echoed remarks made by Shadow Education Minister Grant Gibbons in the House of Assembly last Friday. Dr. Gibbons said he had heard of interim board members being called to chairman Philip Butterfield’s office at the Bank of Bermuda and being asked to keep quiet about plans for change. Dr. Gibbons said last night that it made no sense to leave key stakeholders out of the talks, particularly when Government was criticised for secrecy and a failure to communicate with educators in the Hopkins Report. “To have people secretly invited down to meet with the chairman at his office at the bank and be sworn to secrecy just leads to further fear and concern in all the groups involved,” he said. “What you want is to get buy-in and co-operation.” A Ministry of Education spokeswoman said that the interim board was meeting on a weekly basis and appointing members to its six working groups: principal leadership, teaching and learning, ministry reform, accountability, parent partnerships and medium term development. “Each of these working groups will be led by an interim board member and will include teacher representation,” she said. “The composition of these teams will be made public in due course.” Tomorrow’s meeting is at the Berkeley Institute at 5.30 p.m.

June 27. Opposition leaders hammered home their concerns over the plight of Auditor General Larry Dennis to Foreign Office officials in London yesterday. Opposition leader Michael Dunkley and party colleagues met Helen Nellthrop, the deputy head of the Overseas Territories Directorate, and her staff. Mr. Dunkley told The Royal Gazette: "The Premier's recent behavior and the Bermuda Housing Corporation scenario got an airing — and the arrest of the Auditor General. We spent a lot of time talking about that — talking about accountability and the independence of the Auditor General." The UBP quartet, which includes Deputy Leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin and MPs Cole Simons and Grant Gibbons had planned to push for a Royal Commission into the Bermuda Housing Corporation investigation during their trip. Mr. Dunkley said London was already aware of that initiative. "It's something they would consider but until all the legal hurdles are cleared I told them it was premature to move forward and they agreed with that. But it's definitely on the table." And the team also pressed for assurances that the Independence issue would only be decided by referendum. Mr. Dunkley said the meetings were just a starting point while he also said he had fruitful talks with other figures including the Shadow Trade and Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.

June 27. Sources close to Auditor General Larry Dennis claimed last night that he had been authorized by former Police Commissioner Jonathan Smith to hold Police documents relating to the Bermuda Housing Corporation corruption investigation. Last week, Police hunting the documents raided both Mr. Dennis’ home and office for the papers and Mr. Dennis was arrested and held in Police custody for 24 hours before being released uncharged. However the source said: “He had permission to have those Police files — anything to do with the BHC investigation.” The Royal Gazette understands a member of the Auditor General’s staff worked side by side with Police for most of the inquiry in what was labeled as the largest ever investigation into the disappearance of public funds. It was also claimed both Government and Government House were aware of the arrangement. The Auditor General was arrested for alleged possession of stolen documents and not revealing his source as Police hunted a dossier leaked to the media which claimed Premier Dr. Ewart Brown and members of the Government were investigated over alleged corruption at the Bermuda Housing Corporation. He has been bailed to return to Hamilton Police Station on August 22. Mr. Dennis — the Government’s fiscal watchdog — has continually called for more legislative protection for “whistleblowers” as he has hit out at the number of frauds and misappropriations that were detected in recent years in Government entities. The whereabouts of the original Police dossier into the BHC allegations is unknown. In the legal wrangle over the media’s publication of the file’s contents, Chief Justice Richard Ground said in the Supreme Court that it was unclear whether the documents had been stolen or whether they had simply been copied and distributed to the media. However, earlier this month, the Premier’s Office sought to characterize the documents as “stolen”, attacking the media for using the word “leak” in a press release. The statement added: “That word choice is clearly inaccurate. The accurate characterization would be ‘theft’. In this criminal case, the BHC documents were stolen — taken by a thief (or thieves) who should be tracked down for breaking the law.” Lawyer Tim Marshall said the use of the word theft could be prejudicial if anyone arrested in the hunt for the missing files ended up in a jury trial. “If it is a jury trial that may be an issue,” he said. However he said the courts could boot out the case before it got going on the basis that those arrested did not have stolen documents but merely photocopies. Two other people were arrested and then released in connection with the leaked Bermuda Housing Corporation files while Police also raided ZBM news and visited the Mid-Ocean News office after those organizations ran stories based on the documents. The portions already printed by the Mid-Ocean News reportedly revealed that Premier Ewart Brown, former Premier Dame Jennifer Smith and former Minister Renee Webb were all investigated by Police looking into the BHC allegations. Construction boss Zane DeSilva was another prominent person investigated as part of the probe into allegations of corruption at the BHC, the documents reportedly showed. When the investigation finished in 2004, then acting Director of Public Prosecutions Kulandra Ratneser said many of those investigated could only be accused of bad ethics. Mr. Ratneser also said some of the people investigated escaped prosecution due to Bermuda’s antiquated corruption laws. Since the BHC scandal — which is believed to have cost the taxpayer $8 million — one person has been convicted. Terrence Smith, a BHC officer, was found guilty and jailed last year on 41 counts of fraud. 

June 27. Construction work on Bermuda’s sixth fast ferry is on course to be completed by mid-September, Government announced yesterday. The catamaran — currently being built in Bridgeport, Connecticut, by Direktor Shipyard — will be similar in structure to the Warbaby Fox which was officially launched for the East End of the Island last year. It will accommodate 350 passengers. The Director of Marine and Ports Services, Francis Richardson, said he was pleased with the building progress of the ferry so far. He said significant hull construction will be completed this week. Once constructed, and following sea trials, the new ferry will join sister catamarans Resolute, Serenity, Venturilla, Tempest and Warbaby Fox in full commuter service to the public. Premier Ewart Brown, who is also Ministry of Transport, has stated he is keen to step up the number of options available to people seeking to find alternative ways to get around. Earlier this year, Bermuda’s fast ferry project was held up as a model to be considered for use across the region at a meeting of Caribbean leaders in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

June 27. Thick blankets of black smoke regularly drifted over nearby homes while the US occupied Kindley Air Force Base, St. David’s residents recalled yesterday. Some said they were not surprised to hear former US Army veteran Ronald Slater’s allegations that huge amounts of toxic waste including lethal defoliant Agent Orange were dumped and burned at the base in the 1960s. People claimed they often had to shut tight all windows and doors to keep out poisonous fumes, while clothes hanging out to dry would become coated in filthy residue. Meanwhile, one former military man backed up Mr. Slater’s comments about the disposal of hazardous waste by saying he also witnessed the dumping of substances including mercury and hydrochloric acid at Bermuda’s bases. However, one ex-US Air Force Sergeant at the base in the late 1960s said he found it difficult to believe Agent Orange — now said to cause horrific disfigurements and severe long-term injury to those exposed to it — was ever used. Earlier this week, The Royal Gazette reported how Mr. Slater, 64, of Washington State, said numerous barrels of the defoliant were poured into deep pits before being burned for days, sending poisonous fumes over St. David’s homes. Gregory Fox, 50, of St. David’s, said he grew up in a house about 50 yards away from the base and would regularly play in the area as a child. “I recognize the photographs in the newspaper,” said Mr. Fox. “As a youngster, about eight or ten, I used to play in that area. I lived on the hill. I used to venture down that way. It was nothing but blanket smoke from those pits. My mom used to close one side of the house because of it. We had to wash clothes on the line again because of the smoke. We always wondered what the heck they were burning there. Mr. Slater is right. It was definitely not cardboard boxes. It wasn’t ordinary trash. Those pits are now filled in and they need to do some serious looking because we have been exposed to whatever they burned. I’m worried about it. Mr. Slater is ill. I might end up with health problems in the future.” A 63-year-old Hamilton Parish resident said: “As a young man I played there and there were big clouds of black smoke. It was regular — I recall seeing lots of clouds. We thought it was a product of something, but we just accepted it as smoke from the base and didn’t think any more.” Lee Estis, of Arizona, who served in Bermuda from 1958 to 1995, said: “They dumped and burned everything you could imagine down there. I even dumped mercury.” Fred Beyersdorfer, a US Air Force Sergeant at Kindley from 1967 to 1969, cast doubt over Mr. Slater’s story by questioning why the burning of Agent Orange had not now rendered the area barren. “I was in the area of the site in the first few days of June this year. It still looks as beautiful to me as it did back in 1967,” he said. Mr. Beyersdorfer, 60, of Houston, Texas, also said it was unlikely the defoliant would have been dumped in great amounts in the period claimed by Mr. Slater because it was still being used in Vietnam then. But he added: “But then, the US Government has done many things out of sorts and incongruent over the years.” Mr. Slater said his role in the disposal of waste was to bulldoze the remains into the sea after burning. He believes his poor health — including Type2 diabetes — is attributable to exposure to Agent Orange. Fears have been raised that, if the defoliant was dumped in the ground, its dioxins would remain a serious environmental risk today because they are so chemically stable they will not degrade over decades. Government has been investigating the claims over the past few days. Yesterday, Works and Engineering Permanent Secretary Derrick Binns said past records of testing completed in the area are being examined, while the land is to be re-tested specifically for the presence or absence of Agent Orange and the similar toxin Agent Blue. The tests will be carried out be a qualified organisation. Minister Dennis Lister has previously stated Mr. Slater’s claims are without foundation and that no evidence has shown Agent Orange was ever in Bermuda. Maintaining that line yesterday, Dr. Binns said: “We do not anticipate that the current testing will yield results significantly different to those already obtained.”  

June 27. Plans have been submitted to transform a derelict hotel site into a new resort and marina. The Eden Group aims to create a mixed development resort at the former Lantana site in Sandys. Covering 9.70 acres, it will feature both hotel accommodation and residential leasehold properties. The land is already zoned as tourism but will also cover 0.48 acres of agricultural land and 0.40 acres of ‘green space’ along its north-east edge. The Eden Group is an international company based in London. Situated between the Railway Trail and the coastline north-west of Somerset Bridge, the resort will include 18 hotel suites in a main ‘Manor House’ complex, plus 20 residential units with driveways and 33 shared-ownership villas. Amenities include a spa, restaurants and bars, plus beachside and poolside facilities. In a letter to the Department of Planning, agents Conyers and Associates state: “Until 1998, Lantana was a successful tourism resort which has since been disused and over the subsequent years, fallen into a state of disrepair. “The proposal includes the provision of various shoreline amenities arranged around and adjacent to the existing beach which would be enhanced and protected through the addition of one new breakwater and the refurbishment of the existing breakwater. The primary purpose of this breakwater is to protect this vital beach amenity.” The resort — covering a total 95,703 sq ft — will also operate a water taxi service. The supporting letter to the application says: “The new dock is seen by the developer as a fundamental part of the resort’s strategy for transportation, with links to Hamilton and other areas of the island, and is intended to become a major gateway into the resort. “The provision of such marine facilities will take pressure off the roads and is viewed as a highly desirable transport solution for the resort as well as being consistent with the Government’s stated goal of providing inter-modal transport services. “Our client’s reputation as an international developer will ensure that the scenic quality and visual amenity of this part of Bermuda will be greatly enhanced.” The Lantana land was put up for sale for $18.5 million last August after plans to develop it into a luxury spa resort failed to materialize. A ‘breaking ground’ ceremony took place in February 2005 with the resort planned for 2007. It was described as a 40-suite hotel complex with 17 beachfront villas and marina, spa and conference centre. However, when backers Tanner and Haley pulled out and then  applied for bankruptcy in the US, the remaining investors decided not to pursue the project. The original Lantana Resort was developed by the late John Young and was one of the first ‘cottage colony’ resorts in Bermuda. Opened in the 1950s, it built up a reputation for friendliness and excellent service, but closed in 1998. Premier Dr. Ewart Brown, Minister of Tourism, last night said: “Tourism has reached such an incredible surge that anyone looking for a hotel room this summer is going to find it very difficult. Hotels are full. “While that’s a nice problem to have, we must act. So whenever I hear of plans for new hotel development I am thrilled because it means our tourism product will have the space it needs to grow." Shadow Tourism Minister David Dodwell also welcomed the application by The Eden Group. “I think it’s a positive move and will be good for Bermuda,” said Mr. Dodwell. “It’s been closed since 1998, nearly ten years, so it’s good to see plans for an existing hotel to be upgraded and reopened. I also think it fits the type of hotel that will be successful. It’s medium-sized and a mixed-use development, and that’s the way the hotel business is going these days. I think this resort has real chances of getting up and running, and a marina is perfect for that location as it’s a protected bay.”

June 27. Drivers are reminded to use designated lots and to observe posted signs at beaches after chaos at Shelly Bay park this weekend. The Department of Parks removed the main access gate, which leads to the playground at Shelly Bay Park in order to repair it and over the weekend found drivers parking there. Until the repairs are complete a chain has been erected to keep cars out and the Department of Parks has also asked drivers not to park in front of the chained entrance so maintenance crews have unobstructed access. A spokesman for the department said: "We ask that in the interest of safety, particularly for the children playing within the playground area, park users must refrain from parking in this area and use the designated car park. We also ask that vehicles do not park in front of this entrance chain as emergency vehicles must have access at all times. While the parking problem is a recent one at Shelly Bay Park, the Department of Parks would also like to remind drivers of rules at other beaches. At Clearwater Beach drivers should not park their vehicles so that cars cannot turn around on the open lawn next to Gombey's Restaurant and on Elbow Beach's Tribe Road the lower section is designated no parking to allow room for turning. Visitors of West Whale Bay Park are warned to leave access for residents of Landmark Condos because any vehicle parked illegally at beaches will be ticketed and may be towed at the owner's expense. However, the spokesman added: "The 2007 summer season promises a very busy, active and exciting time at the parks and beaches and the Department of Parks appreciates the cooperation of the general public in helping to make this a safe and enjoyable summer at the parks and beaches." For further information contact the Department of Parks Park, Ranger Office at 236-5902 or 239-2355.

June 27. KeyTech Ltd., the parent company of the Bermuda Telephone Company, yesterday announced 2006/07 net income of $9.1 million — a fall of $2.6 million from the previous year. In a statement yesterday, the company said costs relating to accounting changes after securing control of Caymans-based telecom company WestTel impacted on the results. And KeyTech added that a Government decision to reduce BTC's local access charge — the per minute fee paid by international carriers to BTC for originating and terminating long distance calls — reduced net income by $1.8m. BTC is preparing a legal appeal of this reduction. KeyTech also made a $21m investment in capital assets — up $4.3m on the previous year — to maintain existing plant and improve its networks, and also support provision of new services. The Bermudian company now has a controlling interest in WestTel, meaning that KeyTech now accounts for losses of WestTel in excess of its percentage equity holding. This accounting change resulted in a $1.3m negative impact on net income. Under the same accounting treatment KeyTech will report future profits in excess of its percentage equity holding. KeyTech chief executive officer Sheila Lines was upbeat about the acquisition of WestTel as the company's fifth subsidiary. "We are excited by both the revenue growth to date and the potential future for WestTel," Ms Lines said. "The controlling interest will enable fast implementation of synergies between WestTel and our Bermuda based operations." In its statement, the company explained that a $1.5m increase in expenses came about as a result of the launch of M3 Wireless's easyConnect service and the development of technical and business plans to build a new submarine cable to Bermuda. "Wireless technology is evolving rapidly, and both business and residential customers increasingly rely on fixed and mobile wireless services to meet their communications requirements," Ms Lines said. "Our investment in new wireless services is essential to the medium and long term competitive positioning of KeyTech. We also know that robust and affordable international connectivity is critical to Bermuda's business and residential customers. Thus, when the government announced a tender process to award licenses to build an additional cable in Bermuda, we pursued, and continue to purse, that opportunity aggressively." Ms Lines added that the $9.1m in net earnings after the impact of the outlays indicated the "diversity and strategic health of our operations". Income from continuing operations for the prior year was $13.3m. Income from continuing operations for the current year on a comparable basis after adjusting for the accounting treatment change for WestTel, the investments in easyConnect and the international cable project, and the reduction in the local access charge, was $13.7m. KeyTech total operating revenues for fiscal year 2006/07 were up $6.5m over 2005/06 to $105.4m. Of the increase, $5.3m is due to WestTel's inclusion as a subsidiary in the current year and $1.2m is driven by growth in wireless and directory revenues. An increased focus on customer services had resulted in a 90 percent satisfaction rate among BTC users in the last quarter, according to the CEO. Total expenses grew $11.2m to $97.4m, with the consolidation of WestTel accounting for $8.1m of the growth. In addition to expenses associated with easyConnect and the international cable project, increased operational costs resulted from increased volumes of long distance voice and data traffic on Logic's network and rising maintenance costs tied to higher fuel prices for electricity. Contribution to net income from affiliates improved by $1.7m in 2006/07 primarily as a result of consolidating WestTel's results in the current year. Bermuda CableVision settled a long-running copyright dispute with the Performing Rights Society which resulted in a one-time charge to earnings from affiliates of $0.3m in the year. Excluding the one-time charge, both Bermuda CableVision and QuoVadis results improved significantly compared to the prior year. Total cash dividends paid to common shareholders for the year was $0.60 per common share, the same level as in the prior year. Investment income for the year was $739,841. Investment income for the prior year was $629,355. The dividend for the common shareholders of KeyTech Limited for the quarter ending June 30 2007 will be 15 cents per share. 

June 27. Plans to bring the inaugural World Amateur Stroke-play Championships to the Island this November have been temporarily scrapped, it was announced yesterday. Bermuda Golf Association president Bob Legere revealed in January that he was planning to bring 40 of the world’s best male and female amateur players — many of who will eventually go on to become household names when they join the professional ranks — to Bermuda to vie for the title of world amateur champion. The announcement was significant because while a World Amateur Team Championships already exists, there has never been an individual strokeplay event on offer to the leading amateur players, with the prestigious British and US Amateur championships both being matchplay competitions. With rumors circulating that Port Royal would be closing for nine months starting at the end of last year, the BGA originally planned to run the event on three different courses — the Mid-Ocean Club, Tucker’s Point and Belmont Hills. The project was first conceived and brought to the attention of Government by Legere as far back as the middle of 2006. But when Premier Ewart Brown announced a few months later that the Grand Slam of Golf would be hosted by the Mid-Ocean in the same month, the World Amateur Championships were essentially blown out of the water. While stressing he was an enthusiastic supporter of the Grand Slam, Legere admitted to The Royal Gazette back in January he was worried about his event’s proximity to it and the fact that the BGA and the Department of Tourism could end up competing against each other in the hunt for corporate sponsorship. It now appears as if his anxiety was fully justified. Yesterday Legere said his idea had received the “enthusiastic endorsement” of the 114 golf associations that make up the International Golf Federation (IGF). Yet despite the BGA’s best efforts, he said it was simply not going to be logistically possible to host “two major golf events in such a small place at more or less the same time.” And in an a further development, Legere revealed that members of the Dubai Golf Association were on the Island last week and have expressed an interest in hosting the event themselves — though Legere made it clear he would much prefer it to take place in Bermuda. “The people from Dubai definitely want it, though at this stage I would say there is less than a 50 percent chance,” he said. “We’ve have done our very best to work around the Grand Slam, but the problem for us has been the limited access we would have been given to the Mid-Ocean Club in the weeks before the Grand Slam as they prepared the course for that event. At one stage I thought the World Amateur and the Grand Slam could co-exist, though as time has gone on I’ve realised that we’re fighting a losing battle. To have them both in November would have been like two big buses colliding and I cannot take on the Government. Our access to the kind of corporate support and hospitality that we require was also being severely restricted because of the Grand Slam and it got to the point where we knew it wasn’t going to be possible to host our event at that time (November) in a small place like Bermuda. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bitter about anything or towards anyone. In fact I’m a big supporter of the Grand Slam in general and am hoping like everyone else that either a Tiger Woods or a Phil Mickelson or an Ernie Els will win one of the year’s two remaining majors — because without a high-profile name, it's going to be a much quieter tournament." While he has trademarked the World Amateur Strokeplay Championships logo in the US and UK, Legere is well aware that there’s now a slight possibility that another ambitious national golf association could steal plan and host a similar event themselves — though he doesn’t think that’s very likely at this stage. We did go to the trouble of trade marking the logo in a couple of different jurisdictions, but the laws are complicated and very different in every country so there is a chance that somebody else could steal it I suppose — in which case I might have a legal battle on my hands,” he said. “But the IGF is aware of what has happened in Bermuda, they’re aware that the idea for a World Amateur Strokeplay Championships originated with me and that BGA has been working very hard on it. Many of the other national associations who are all members of the IGF are aware of that as well and it is unlikely they would accept such a move. So I’m comfortable things won’t head in that direction. But I am convinced this event will eventually be a huge success and a fantastic boost to both the Island’s golf and tourism product. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens with the Grand Slam and see if we can come up with a scheduling plan next year which works for all concerned.”

June 28. The significant role Bermuda played in the settling of the US is becoming clearer as a result of archaeological discoveries at Jamestown in Virginia. And the link between the two countries was underscored when St. George’s mayor Mariea Caisey joined the likes of US president George W. Bush in placing an item in a time capsule marking the 400th anniversary of Jamestown. An archaeological dig at the US city has uncovered bones of cahows, turtles and hogs, alongside Bermuda stone that may have been used as ballast on the Deliverance and Patience — in 1610. A delegation of 25 from Bermuda was invited to the 400th anniversary celebrations at Jamestown. Ms Caisey placed a Bermuda Cedar friendship cup in a time capsule, a significant recognition for Bermuda as others invited to place objects in the capsule to mark the city’s historic anniversary included the US president himself. Dr. George Cook, of the St. George’s Foundation, said: “Bermuda was chosen to be in this significant group. Mariea placed a friendship cup in the capsule and it really is a story of a friendship that spans four centuries.” Jamestown was settled by English colonists in 1607, but they were left struggling for survival after a nine-ship relief fleet was reduced to seven when an Atlantic hurricane struck. One of that fleet, the Sea Venture, was shipwrecked on Bermuda and its survivors eventually built two ships to sail to Jamestown the following year. It is from these two ships, the Deliverance and Patience, that the cahow, turtle bones and the Bermuda stone discovered in an archaeological dig at Jamestown are thought to have come. The arrival of the Bermuda ships, together with fresh supplies from the Island, are seen as a critical turning point in the survival of the struggling Jamestown community. The recognition that Bermuda has received from Jamestown and Virginia could help develop more links with the US in terms of tourist visitors wishing to come to the Island to learn more about those historic links. In the Jamestown visitor centre there is even a “Bermuda room” with artifacts and information about the Island and the role it played in the establishing of a community on the fringe of the newly discovered country even before the famous Plymouth Rock landings many years later. A cruise ship boarding terminal at Norfolk also contains a Bermuda room that allows passengers boarding their ships to learn about the Island. “Passengers are immersed in Bermuda’s history while they are waiting for their ship,” said Sharon Jacobs, executive director of the St. George’s Foundation. The recent links between Jamestown and Bermuda go back ten years with one of the foundation’s founders and chairman Henry Hayward helping to forge the friendships that have continued and brought about the invite to play a part in the town’s 400th anniversary celebration. In past months, Bermuda has also played a role in the Virginia International Tattoo, and the Spirit of Bermuda was involved in a gathering of tall ships off the coast of the State. The 400th anniversary celebrations in Jamestown were attended by an estimated 100,000 people. Historical Bermuda-linked artifacts discovered in and around the city are to go on display. Jamestown also intends to have a six-month exhibition on Bermuda in 2009. “That is indicative of the recognition of Bermuda in Jamestown’s story,” said Dr. Cook. The state of Virginia is also seeking Bermuda’s assistance in re-designing its school history curriculum to include more on Bermuda’s important role in the establishment of the earliest colony. Dr. Cook said it was important that Bermuda continues to nurture its friendship links with Virginia and Jamestown. Mr. Hayward feels the direct connection to St. George’s is significant and the new World Heritage Centre in the town could tie in with historic events that link to Bermuda and are of interest to US and Canadian visitors. There are a number of significant “400th anniversary” dates approaching for Bermuda such as its own 400th anniversary (1609), the first permanent settlement (1612), the arrival of the first African in Bermuda (1616) and the first Government in Bermuda (1620).

June 28. Public transport and garbage collection will be disrupted this morning due to a union meeting by Government workers. Residents have been warned to expect cancelled bus services and delays in trash pick-ups as the Bermuda Industrial Union presents its arbitration award to members. A Government spokeswoman said last night: “The Government is advising the public today that tomorrow, at 10 a.m. the Bermuda Industrial Union will be holding an important meeting for all of its union members within the employ of the Bermuda Government. As such, residents can expect an interruption in the following Government services between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. All bus routes will be affected, however the Department of Public Transportation will provide a supplementary shuttle service for visitors. All ferry service between Hamilton, Dockyard and St. George’s is expected to run per normal. However, there will be no Rockaway (Southampton) service as of 9.15 a.m. and no Paget/Warwick service as of 9.45 a.m.” She added: “The Parks Department services will be interrupted, and it is expected that Works and Engineering (garbage collection, Quarry and Tyne’s Bay) services will be interrupted. The public will be notified as soon as all services have resumed.” Chris Furbert, BIU President, said last night: “This is not industrial action, it is to present the arbitration award for the Government’s blue collar workers. The process started in March of this year and concluded on May 14. The decision has now been made and the pay award is to be presented to the workers tomorrow. We asked the Government for permission to have this meeting.”

June 29. Senators passed a bill to cut Airport queues and boost border security on Wednesday. It will require airlines to supply lists of arriving and departing passengers. Public Safety Minister David Burch said the information would alert authorities for people on the stop list before they arrive. And passengers can be cleared through the Immigration arrivals hall much more quickly and efficiently. Government is also working on a new method to speed up processing of passengers. The electronic manifests will eliminate the requirement to collect landing cards on departure from Bermuda while the elimination of departure cards would bring Bermuda in line with countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, who receive electronic manifests and do not require travelers to complete a departure card. It will also simplify the processing and storage of landing cards as there will only be a single card which will be collected on arrival into Bermuda. Once the new border control system is in place there will be no requirement for Bermudians who have the stamp: "Holder is registered as Bermudian" in their passport and/or possess a "Fast Pass" card to have to complete an arrival card. Therefore, the only document that a Bermudian will need to complete, when returning home, is a Customs card.

June 29. A damming picture has been painted of Bermuda’s human rights complaints process by the previous head of the body charged to deal with such grievances. Former executive officer of the Human Rights Commission (HRC), David Wilson, said Government Ministers and civil servants intervened in at least one high-profile case, and both he and his predecessor, Opposition MP Neville Darrell, were sacked because they refused to play ball. The ousted head’s allegations are supported by a host of court affidavits and e-mail records. His claim is that a cadre of Government Ministers and senior civil servants attempted to bully both him and the United Bermuda Party MP into a course of action which would have affected the outcome of a discrimination complaint local businessman Harold Darrell had initiated against the Bank of Bermuda. That case is still ongoing seven years after it was first filed. According to Mr. Wilson, Neville Darrell’s dismissal was preceded by a heated meeting with former Human Affairs Minister Terry Lister. That tirade, which allegedly brought Mr. Darrell close to tears, apparently saw Mr. Lister scold him “for entertaining the Harold Darrell complaint against the Bank of Bermuda” and warn there were certain cases he would have to ignore in his tenure at the Human Rights Commission, that at times he “would have to tear down the temple, and that on other occasions, (Mr. Darrell) would simply do nothing”. Mr. Wilson believes his own fall from the civil service was brought about by a targeted conspiracy involving former Human Affairs director Brenda Dale, former chairman of the Human Rights Commission Rod Attride Stirling, current Human Affairs director Myra Virgil and former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Community Affairs and Sport, Derrick Binns. He further alleges that former Community Affairs and Sport Minister Dale Butler was aware of what was happening but showed no support, despite unfair comments in the media from Mr. Attride Stirling which led to Mr. Wilson’s professional disgrace. “I am now looking at the full picture, the way Neville Darrell was pushed out of the office when we had that first ministerial interference from Terry Lister. I’m looking at my situation — I was not dismissed for annual reports or the managing of any cases, I was dismissed for upholding the law with respect to how the Harold Darrell matter was handled. My demise wasn’t about late annual reports, it was because I stood my ground and resisted intrusions into my office, which enjoys independence in cases.” Mr. Wilson claims his problems initiated with Mrs. Virgil, who had unsuccessfully applied for the role of executive officer in 2002 and was instead hired as an investigation officer for the Commission.  “Mrs. Virgil was disgruntled and never wanted to come under my authority,” he said. “Because she was a PhD candidate, she wanted me to unilaterally put her on a higher pay scale than the other investigation officer. She wanted me to unilaterally create a position for her as assistant executive officer and became rancid when I told her this could not be done. In short, she had an inflated ego and wanted to be catapulted to higher heights before doing her time.” Mrs. Virgil left to run the Commission for Unity and Racial Equality (CURE). Around the same time, Mrs. Dale was appointed director of the Department of Human Affairs. Effectively Mr. Wilson’s boss, the post was at times filled by Mrs. Virgil when Mrs. Dale was on leave. A backlog of work in his office led Mr. Wilson to ask for additional administrative support. As proof of need, he cited evidence from several temps that the demands were too much for one person. His request was denied. “The relationship between me and (Mrs. Dale) was bad, but only because I resisted her micro-management and bullying in my office. The relationship became worse when I found it necessary to seek help from her superior, Dr. Binns.” The former HRC head said he received no support, only a pair of poor performance appraisals — “the first in my tenure” since assuming the responsibility of acting executive officer in 1999 and being made permanent head of the Commission in 2002 and the first in his entire “service with Government, which goes back to 1975 when I was a teacher”. In a November 2005 letter to the Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Mr. Wilson made a formal complaint against Mrs. Dale’s behavior. “At this time, all I wish to say about these matters is that they are a kind which, in my view, amount to disrespect for me and my office and an attempt to discredit me before my staff — but all of which, I might add, seems to only take place when I am not in office,” he wrote. “Recently, I was off the island on vacation leave. I learned that the Director had been in my office the first day of my leave. It is my information that the Director was inspecting or otherwise moving around my office, helping herself to information. I have repeatedly indicated to Mrs. Dale and the Permanent Secretary that, by Section 30 of the Human Rights Act 1981, I and all officers of the Commission are required by law to maintain confidentiality of the business of the Commission. There is a strict prohibition on this. Whilst I recognize that Mrs. Dale is my director, all of her predecessors have recognized and respected the fact that the director is not an officer of the Commission and does not have free (i.e., unescorted) and unfettered access to my office.” Section 30 of the Act states: “Any person who hinders, obstructs, molests or interferes with the Commission or an officer of the Commission in the lawful exercise of a power or the lawful performance of a duty under this Act shall be guilty of an offence.” Compounding his problems was his relationship with Mr. Attride Stirling. “The chairman functioned differently to those I’d worked with before. Aside from the fact that he was very dictatorial, he had no rapport with my staff and was very offensive to my staff. Every day I was getting complaints from my staff about his approach, the fact that he was very rude.” He addressed his concerns to Mr. Butler, under whose portfolio the HRC fell, and who happened to be a longstanding friend. “I said, ‘I’ve been here a long time. I know my job. Things are not working between the chairman and me and the director and me’. I didn’t expect him to do anything about the director, because that’s a civil service position, but the chairman of the Commission is a political appointment. I told him that (Mr. Attride Stirling) was making my life a hell, that he didn’t have the respect for my staff and that he didn’t have my respect. I left him feeling quite encouraged. I expected him to do his due diligence and check.” What happened, said Mr. Wilson, is that “Mr. Rod Attride-Stirling was re-appointed” and subsequently complained in the press that the annual reports were years’ behind. My office prepared 2002, 2003 and 2004 annual reports in the usual way with the usual format, which had been accepted by Cabinet for years before Mrs. Dale or Mr. Attride Stirling arrived. There were some statistical problems in the reporting which required auditing. I had no problem with that. To this day, the Minister has been fed untruths that the reports were not done. The truth is that the reports were done. The chairman has said that the reports were garbage. And I say if they were garbage then he insults the scrutiny and vetting of his own deputy (Mary Ann Scott), who was charged with approving these reports. The whole issue of reports is so insane when I have it on authority that other departments in Government are eight to ten years behind in reports.” Mr. Wilson added that, according to a recent report by the Auditor General, the Bermuda College had failed to file annual reports since 1985. “But I didn’t see anybody from the College being fired,” he said. He reserved his greatest criticism for Mrs. Dale, who he said conducted herself in a manner that was “unprofessional, unlawful and certainly not becoming of a senior civil servant”. “One, she ordered me not to attend boards of inquiry proceedings and it began with the Harold Darrell case,” he said. “The second thing that she did was during the preliminary proceedings of the Harold Darrell board of inquiry.” According to Mr. Wilson, there was confusion as to whether Mr. Darrell’s complaint was against the Bank of Bermuda or its board of directors or both. “She was very angry that I put this matter before the Commission. During the meetings we had with the Commission to try and sort this out, Mary Ann said, ‘Listen, Mr. Harold Darrell was always including the bank as a respondent, not just the directors.' “I knew that was true. But Mrs. Dale didn’t want that evidence and she didn’t want that to be communicated to Harold Darrell because this would have made it easy for Mr. Darrell to proceed at the hearing as he wanted to. She forced me to put selected transcript evidence before the Commission — she said I was to only put forward evidence that she approved. That had the effect of derailing the Commission. The third thing that she did was forbid me to have contact with Mr. Harold Darrell. This is a member of the public. He has a right to come to my office. But I still did not connect the dots and then, subsequently, I came to the conclusion that Mrs. Dale was attempting to effect a particular result in this case. She was forcing me to continually look over my shoulder.” Mr. Wilson eventually faced an internal tribunal. “I ran a credible defence to all of the charges laid against me, but even I did not realize that nothing I said was going to make a difference because the Minister was at the centre of it,” he said. The matter came to a head last July when Mr. Wilson was eventually faced with two options — resign or be dismissed. “I told them that the only way I would take resignation is if they gave me a letter of recommendation going forward. I wanted to get my job back on track. I wanted to get back into employment.” Three months after resigning, Mr. Wilson had failed to receive any letter of recommendation, and subsequently called the deal off. “Forget it. You can call it dismissal or whatever you want but the deal now is off because you haven’t shown me good faith at all,” he said. “I’ve done all I’ve had to do and every door has been shut in my face in terms of trying to get employment. Whenever I sent my dossier out the recommendation from Government was missing. There’s no reason for me to not tell the truth now. And if the truth be told, I believe that someone got to Mrs. Dale and caused her to interfere with this case in the three ways I’ve outlined. And I think that’s very serious. The public needs to know.” Mr. Wilson added that one of the conditions of his resignation was that he not go to the Public Service Commission or take his employers to court. And he said his superiors were shocked to learn that, because of an oversight, he had never signed the Official Secrets Act, and is therefore free to talk about his work as a civil servant. Mr. Wilson’s concerns were backed up by Harold Darrell, who believes that officials are using delaying tactics to block his case from moving forward. Referring to “protracted legal arguments”, Mr. Darrell said: “They’re just trying to confuse people with smoke and mirrors.” 

June 29. Governor Sir John Vereker is refusing to comment on recently revealed allegations of corruption within Government. The allegations, revealed in this newspaper four weeks ago, were made during a two-year fraud squad investigation into the disappearance of millions of dollars at the publicly-funded Bermuda Housing Corporation. Premier Ewart Brown, along with former Housing Minister Nelson Bascome and prospective Progressive Labour Party candidate Zane DeSilva, were at the centre of the police probe, although no charges have ever brought against any of the men. Kulendra Ratneser, the island’s top prosecutor at the time, said that unethical behavior involving elected officials had been unearthed but that there was little that could be deemed criminal under the law. Sir John was kept fully briefed in the progress of the investigation and, once it wrapped up in August 2004, declared: “I hope that lessons are being learned in the appropriate places.” This week the Mid-Ocean News e-mailed Deputy Governor Mark Capes, asking if Sir John could expand on his comments. We asked what lessons and which places he was referring to specifically. We also asked if he was referring to the behavior of Government Ministers, including Ewart Brown and Nelson Bascome. We also asked if Sir John believes that the full contents of the police investigations should be made available to the public, if he was satisfied the investigation reached a satisfactory conclusion, and what impact the events of the past four weeks have had on Bermuda’s international reputation. In an e-mailed response, Mr. Capes replied: “I have to advise that the Governor is not available for comment.”

June 29. Government has rejected the Bermuda Industrial Union's bid to get a 35-hour week. Bus services and trash pick-ups were disrupted yesterday as hundreds of workers gathered at the union's headquarters to hear the results of an arbitration hearing into the request. Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert declined to comment. He will hold a press conference on Monday to outline the union's position but it is thought the union has accepted Government's position for now. The union voted last year to reduce hours for members from 37 to 35. The plans however, were criticised by Bermuda Employers' Council president William DeSilva Jr., who warned that cutting hours would either hit services or land the taxpayer with a hefty overtime bill. Then Shadow Finance Minister Grant Gibbons also criticised the plans, citing concerns that it could make Bermuda less economically competitive. But Mr. Furbert argued statistics showed that a 35 to 36 hour working week was not uncommon in Bermuda and the move would have a limited impact. Citing figures from the Government on the working week in sectors ranging from the fishing industry to retail, education, and international business, he said that the average in 2004 was 35.9 hours. It is also understood workers were given a 3.8 percent pay raise for this year. Last night Shadow Labour and Immigration Minister Trevor Moniz said: "I'm not convinced at this stage that a shorter working week is called for. Without some convincing arguments I would not be in support of it. Countries which have adopted a shorter working week, such as France, are now starting to roll it back because it has made them less efficient and competitive. I think that would happen here. It would reduce the efficiency of the Government workforce and cost the taxpayer." A Government spokesman said transport stoppages and disruption of other services ended at around noon yesterday. 

June 29. Bermuda Aviation Services Ltd. is suing the Government over what the company says is a breach of its exclusive rights to provide private jet services at L.F. Wade International Airport. The company, together with its subsidiary Aircraft Services, has filed a writ against Premier Ewart Brown, in his capacity as Minister of Transport, as well as Attorney General Phil Perinchief, in a case to be heard in commercial court. BAS chief executive officer Kenneth Joaquin said yesterday that the company's exclusivity deal extended to 2014, but new competitor the Sovereign Group was being given permission to offer a rival private jet service. Sovereign is in the process of converting a former US Air Force building on Southside into a private jet passenger terminal. BAS believes Sovereign has not had to compete in a tender process for the right to offer the service. And the Ministry would be going against the advice of its own technical advisors if it gave Sovereign permission to operate private jet services, BAS claims. "Presently we are not aware who the principals are behind the Sovereign Group," Mr. Joaquin said yesterday. "But it is our understanding that they are currently involved in constructing a facility for the purpose of providing private jet services. We have also been made to understand that they were not required, as BAS was, to compete in an open tender to be able to provide this service. Additionally, we are aware that technical advisors to the Ministry of Transport (the Air Advisory Committee) had recommended that no other service provider should be allowed to operate a private jet facility at the airport." Mr. Joaquin said BAS had won an exclusive right to offer private jet services through an open tender in tender in 1997. The deal was extended through to 2014 four years ago, he added. He added that BAS had to pay for the right to operate at the airport and had additionally invested nearly $800,000 to improve ramp surfaces and facilities. Mr. Joaquin said BAS had made its concerns known to the Transport Ministry, though there had been no direct dealings with Dr. Brown. "The Ministry has taken the position that our lease to occupy the building does not grant us an exclusive right to operate a private jet facility. However, we were awarded a concession that provided for the operator of the private jet facility to have an exclusive right of service; the lease was entered into as a consequence of being awarded the concession. Having dealt with the Ministry of Transport in good faith, we simply want the Ministry to honour that agreement that was made to provide BAS with the sole right to operate until 2014 and longer on the basis that we continue to do a good job." We were unable to get comment on the matter from the Transport Ministry by press time yesterday. And we were also unable to contact representatives of the Sovereign Group. Sovereign Group's plans involve turning the disused building, which is near to the Southside Cinema and Pizza House on Southside Road. Known as "Carter House", the building is on the outer perimeter of the airfield and has its own 275,000 sq ft apron area where private jets can be parked. There will be space for 13 cars to park next to the new terminal and an entrance canvas canopy is envisaged.

June 29. A tourism industry expert said it was important not to overplay increased arrival figures - in case it put people off coming to Bermuda. Mike Winfield, chairman of Bermuda Hotel Association and President of Cambridge Beaches, said overplaying such figures could drive away potential visitors. The comments come in the wake of statistics released by Premier Ewart Brown showing that during the first quarter of this year, arrivals figures increased by 24.8 percent in January, 12.6 percent in February and 17.9 percent in March. Dr. Brown said the figures pointed to a need for “hotel development as many of the Island’s hotels are filled to capacity with guests”. But Mr. Winfield, who is also the co-chairman of Bermuda Alliance of Tourism, said yesterday it was important not to scare away potential visitors and said there were still many rooms available in July and August. He said: “Yes there are times in June when Bermuda’s hotels are full and that is a cause for celebration but there are many days when there are rooms available as well. We do not want to send the wrong message, that there is no room, and scare off airlines and visitors.” Earlier this week, in a press release Dr. Brown said the growth was “stellar” when compared to other Islands. His press secretary commented that during the same period most of the Caribbean region was struggling to attract new business. In particular they pointed to Islands declining arrivals figures in the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica and Montserrat and said “only” the Cayman Islands was showing a similar increase in arrivals. They attributed the figures to the Caribbean Tourism Organization's latest statistics report. But further inspection of the report reveals that 66 percent of the destinations listed saw a percentage increase in arrivals during the same period and while the Cayman’s figure is close to Bermuda’s, Cozumel trumped Bermuda with arrivals increasing by 35.1 percent over the period. Mr. Winfield said the reason some of the Island’s competitors were having issues raising their arrivals figures was due to new US immigrations laws, which require all US citizens to have a passport when travelling outside the country. But the law is not hurting Bermuda because its visitors are “well heeled and already have passports” he said. Another reason is that the tourism industry as a whole was working together to improve the overall product, including customer service, and generate fresh ideas to attract visitors. “It may have taken a while to increase standards,” he said. “But now visitors are getting an experience that is worth the high price they are paying. From our ferries to taxis and new restaurants, everything has improved.” And he said so far it looked like the 2007 beach and sizzle season would be better than last year’s but said it was important to increase arrivals during the November - March spa and golf season in order to have a health tourism industry. The Ministry is already hard at work wooing European airlines in the hopes that the new market would help the Island during the ‘off season’ months, he said. In-depth statistics of the first quarter released today reveal:

Sixty-three percent of people working in hotels and other visitor accommodations are Bermudian.

June 29. More than 6,000 people will head to the West End tomorrow to celebrate US Independence Day. Although July 4 isn't until the middle of next week the US Consulate will be holding the biggest Independence Day celebrations outside America this weekend. And they are in the process of trying to get the event recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. The theme is "Giving Back to Bermuda", and with more than 60 charities involved in the event as well as dozens of corporate sponsors the day should raise approximately $100,000 for the various philanthropy groups attending. The event is hosted by the American Society, a Bermuda-registered charity founded in 1953, with the aim of fostering friendly relations between Bermuda and the US and the US Consulate. It will take place on June 30, from 5 to 10 p.m. at Moresby Plain, Ireland Island North. US Consul General Gregory Slayton said: "We really want to celebrate the things that Bermuda and America have in common such as a respect for democracy. The event used to be just for Americans on the Island but for the last two years we have tried to make it more inclusive and have a broad cross-section of society involved. "With 6,000 attending that is almost ten percent of Bermuda's population. It should be a great day filled with entertainment and good fun." There will be games and activities on hand to keep kids and teens occupied, such as volleyball, a dunking stool, face painting, jumping castles and basketball. The Bermuda Hogges will also be there to show football (soccer) fans a trick or two. The event is also the first time two US Congress members will join in the festivities. GK Butterfield, whose father was born in St. George's, and Diane Watson, a friend of Premier Ewart Brown since his days in Los Angeles, will be co-chairing the festivities. Volunteers from 50-plus charities will also be on hand to make sure the day goes smoothly, helping with food, entertainment and activities. There will also be a philanthropy tent with information about the various charities and Mr. Slayton hopes that people attending the event will take time out to learn more about each of the charities involved and sign up to assist them. "I've lived all over the world but I have never seen a country with as much corporate sponsorship or philanthropic organizations," he said. "We hope people will get into the spirit on Saturday and learn more about the charities." With so many people attending the event, Mr. Slayton stressed that, without a wristband, no one would gain entry: "We already have 6,000 people coming, and unfortunately if you don't have the band, we won't be able to let you in. But if you are interested in it then join the American Society so that you can get tickets to next year's event." He also urged people to avail of the free public transport available on Saturday so as to avoid any traffic jams and prevent drinking and driving. Anyone with the wristband will be able to use regular buses and ferries as well as ones that have been added to the schedule to cater to the event. The event would not be possible without the generosity of Bermuda's corporate sponsors and Mr. Slayton thanked their premium sponsors The Ace Foundation, Bacardi, RenRe and the XL Foundation. For more information on the event visit the website americansociety.bm.

June 29. Former Environment Minister and chairman of the Sustainable Development Roundtable Arthur Hodgson has been granted permission to build a six-storey office block. The Development Applications Board has approved Planning application for the building in Court Street, Hamilton. Although the maximum storeys specified for Court Street is four, the fifth and sixth floors of Mr. Hodgson's block will be set back with a terrace, enabling the development to comply with height regulations under the 2001 City of Hamilton Plan. An existing building between St. Andrews Church and the Recorder Building will be demolished to make way for the construction, which consists of a basement for storage and service rooms, plus an office at lower ground level. The ground floor will contain a retail store and a pergola — a feature also planned for the fifth floor. There is no proposed on-site parking for the development, which will cover 23,036 square feet. Last night Mr. Hodgson, Environment Minister from 1998 to 2000, said he was part of a team of developers named Abbot Holdings Ltd. It was still not decided which businesses would occupy the building, but Mr. Hodgson said they would be primarily the legal profession. "I'm just one of the people involved with the application," said Mr. Hodgson. "I'm an attorney so I am hoping to relocate my practice Richmond Law to the building." Asked whether there was any conflicting interest with regards to his role as chair of the Sustainable Development Roundtable, Mr. Hodgson said there was "no connection". "I was not aware of, and am not expecting any controversy," he said. 

June 30. A review of healthcare in Bermuda is underway as the Medical Clinic prepares to close in two weeks. Responding to questions over the apparent change in position by the dental organisation on the Island, Minister of Health Michael Scott said: “It is important to note that the decision to close the Medical Clinic has provided us with an opportunity to look at the services that we should provide and the method of delivery of those services. “This exercise will continue in an effort to improve the overall care provided to the community.” Yesterday marked the target-day for the Medical Clinic, formerly the “Indigent clinic” to close with the transferal of 512 of the patients to private doctors. After a meeting with the patients on Thursday, however, Dr. Stanley James, attending physician at the clinic, comforted patients telling them the clinic would remain open. But also urged them to call or visit the clinic to make sure they had a private physician once the clinic at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital closes. And echoing his encouragement, Minister of Health Michael Scott, yesterday in the House of Assembly thanked those involved in the closure and urged patients to go before it closes. He said: “I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage those clients of the Medical Clinic who have not been in to be placed with a physician to please visit the clinic over the next week to ensure that this happens. I also want to thank the members of the joint team that has been working to ensure that the transition of patients to private practice occurs that all the issues that need to be, are addressed. It is important to note that this team will continue to meet throughout the coming months to address issues that arise following the closure of the Clinic. Of equal importance, the team will evaluate the plan and, where necessary, amend it to ensure that the needs of the clients are met.” However, yesterday Shadow Health Minster Louise Jackson said the needs of the patients were not being met by putting them on the Government’s Health Insurance Plan (HIP). She said: “HIP only allows for four visits a year. Most of the seniors can use this up in one month. Many patients have not been notified and many do not have transportation or know about the last meeting they had.” The other problem she sees arising is the fact that there is no dental care offered on HIP nor are the supplies many patients need, provided for once it closes. In response to questions put by The Royal Gazette, Dr. John Cann, Chief Medical Officer, said: “There have been ongoing concerns about dental services for the general population of Bermuda. “This is not only an issue for indigent patients. It is a matter under active consideration by the Ministry of Health. It is important to also understand that dental service was not a service provided by the clinic. There were, however, dentists who had agreed to provide service to indigent patients pro bono. We will advise when resolution has been reached.”

June 30. An education boss from overseas is likely to be appointed to help implement recommendations from a damning report into why so many of Bermuda’s students are failing. Education Minister Randy Horton last night told the House of Assembly about seven people “of the highest caliber” had already been in contact with Government for the position, which he described as a CEO. He said it would be a consultative role and would last for a maximum of two years. “The person selected to be the CEO will be one who is well versed in being able to galvanize all stakeholders, in moving initiatives forward.” Mr. Horton was speaking as a motion was moved to appoint a joint select committee — comprising Progressive Labour Party and United Bermuda Party members — to consider, review and report on the suggestions in Professor David Hopkins’ review into the state of education on the Island. “The most important person is going to be this CEO that we bring in,” said Mr. Horton. “Already, we have been in contact with something like seven or so people. All are of the highest caliber, people who are world-renowned in education reform. We are not going to settle for anything but the best.” Earlier in the debate, Opposition MPs Grant Gibbons — the Shadow Education Minister — and John Barritt, had called for the public to be given access to the meetings of the joint select committee. They both questioned what role such a committee could play when there is an interim executive board has already been implementing Prof. Hopkins’ recommendations for several weeks. Dr. Gibbons and Mr. Barritt both backed the principle of the move to set up a joint select committee. The motion was passed.

June 30. The number of black executives has fallen while white males hold nearly half of the top jobs, according to the latest figures. A workforce survey by the Commission for Unity and Racial Equality (CURE) shows the number of black executives fell from 29 percent to 27 percent while white males are at 49 percent. Releasing the figures, collected from 587 companies in the year ending August, 2006, Community and Cultural Affairs Minister Wayne Perinchief told The House of Assembly that laws were on the way to make things fairer. He said: “CURE has developed legislative proposals for workforce empowerment which will make it mandatory for industry to develop and implement equality of opportunity strategies. This proposed legislation will require Bermuda employers to review their policies and procedures to ensure that all racial barriers to opportunity are removed. Additionally the legislation will require that employers provide evidence of this review and also evidence that plans and programmes are being implemented to effect race equity in their work environments.” The latest statistics showed black women, at 39 percent, were the biggest group in those earning less than $24,000 while white males, at 54 percent, were the largest group among those earning more than $96,000. Mr. Perinchief said: “Regardless of a small labour pool and the limited availability of a trained and/or professional Bermudian workforce, regardless of skin colour, there is still much room for improvement on the part of companies in ensuring that their workforces are increasingly diverse and representative.” He said CURE used the data to work out how to tackle the problem. “Workforce inequities and systems of discrimination, regardless of intent, are indefensible and demonstrate a total disregard for corporate social responsibility,” he said. “Commitments to ensuring equal opportunities in employment for all must become evident in their execution.” Mr. Perinchief said race in the workforce workshops were planned for employers and human resources managers at the National Workforce Empowerment Conference scheduled for late September. And in October CURE will hold a meeting for all race relations stakeholders such as Citizens Uprooting Racism (CURB), Amnesty and the National Association for Reconciliation with the objective of coordinating efforts for race reform.

June 30. The Premier has told reporters in the Cayman Islands that Independence is his goal for Bermuda, but timing is essential in order to successfully realize it. Dr. Ewart Brown spoke on his stance on Independence following the Caribbean Overseas Territories meeting this week. According to the Caymanian Compass newspaper, Dr. Brown said: “It is a matter of timing and political sense as to when that issue is put before the electorate. It is my personal belief that all living things should seek to be independent. Those people who would like to see such a vote (for Independence) or other method lose, would like to rush into it tomorrow. Those of us who would like to see it succeed, will take our time and try to choose the correct time.” Dr. Brown made no mention of his remarks in his address to the House of Assembly yesterday, and did not respond to a request for comment by The Royal Gazette. However, he told yesterday’s protest by young Bermudians — organizers of which said they were anti-Independence — over the Bermuda Housing Corporation scandal: “I am a supporter of Independence but on that we will have to agree to disagree.” There were fears Dr. Brown would push for Independence after he threatened to “suspend further business” with Governor Sir John Vereker over the leaked Police dossier which claimed he was among several ministers questioned over allegations of corruption at the BHC. Dr. Brown accused Sir John of failing to protect the file and said he should be responsible for finding the source of the leak. Although the potential crisis subsided, the row left many unsure of his intentions. Before assuming the role of Premier last October, Dr. Brown stated that Independence was a key objective, but he has also indicated it would not be an initial focus of his leadership. Speaking to the Caribbean Media Corporation in Trinidad in March, Dr. Brown said: “You might know that in 1995 there was a referendum in Bermuda that actually failed — people voted against Independence. “Of course, my party abstained, but when we go again we will win and we cannot risk the chance that we would lose the vote for Independence. Undoubtedly for me, Independence is inevitable. Bermuda will not be isolated in that regard. Our political development says that one day our country will be politically independent.” Independence was first reviewed in a discussion paper to the House of Assembly in 1977. It was later taken up by United Bermuda Party Premier John Swan, whose bid for Independence was lost in a referendum in 1995. An independent survey for The Royal Gazette in March revealed two-thirds of people oppose the idea. Up to 65 percent were against breaking ties with the UK, 22 percent were in favour, and 13 percent were unsure. In his summary of this week’s Caribbean Overseas Territories conference to the House yesterday, Dr. Brown described it as a “successful and productive” meeting. He said leaders drew up plans for a mutual witness protection programme and forensic investigation. The meeting was held as a preliminary for the annual Overseas Territories conference, to be held in London in December. At last year’s event, representatives agreed to hold sessions ahead of the conference to determine agenda items and joint positions on issues of mutual concern. Dr. Brown met last week with leaders of the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, the Cayman Islands and Montserrat. He told the House that Bermuda’s Ferry Project had been “hailed as a regional success story” and that “it was most interesting to note how similar our issues as Overseas Territories are”. The Premier said: “Honourable members may be interested to know that the reluctance of witnesses to testify in criminal cases is not unique to Bermuda. I have returned from Cayman with a draft bill for the consideration of Cabinet on some mutual criminal justice issues of which witness protection is just one. The meeting also considered the development of first-class, regional forensic capability. Presently, many cases are prejudiced in their speedy disposition by the significant delays in waiting for results for crime labs as far afield as Canada, Australia and the UK. We committed to furthering the development of a regional forensics facility to which we would all have access and to ensure a swifter turnaround in the return of results.” Dr. Brown said “the sensitive issue of immigration, work permits and term limits” was also discussed by those present, in terms of striking a balance between “the need for expatriate labour and the rights of their own citizens”. I was also pleased to submit for the consideration of the meeting the development of certain healthcare linkages for the Overseas Territories,” said Dr. Brown. “I urged thorough examination of the regional system of healthcare to determine how best the linkages might benefit them.” Other topics discussed included waste management and enhancing sea and air travel.

June 30. Bermuda has sent the largest ever squad to the Island Games with around 250 athletes set to compete in Rhodes, Greece. The showpiece event starts today and will be the biggest Island Games ever staged with over 5,000 athletes from 25 Islands taking part. Athletes competing in archery, athletics, basketball, cycling, football, golf, sailing, swimming, tennis, triathlon and volleyball will represent Bermuda. They finished in fourth place in the Shetland Islands in 2005. The Member islands competing are: Aland, Alderney, Bermuda, Cayman, Falklands, Faroe Islands, Froya, Gilbraltar, Gotland, Greenland, Guernsey, Hitra, Isle of Man, Isle of Wight, Jersey, Minorca, Orkney, Prince Edward Island, Rhodes, Saaremaa, Sark, Shetland, St Helena, Western Islands, Ynyns Mon. All member islands have to have populations of under 125,000. It will be Minorca’s first appearance.

Bermuda Squad

Archery — Jeane Butterfield, Paul Harshaw

Athletics — Victoria Fiddick, Melissa Clarke, Shianne Smith,Dawn Richardson, Jennifer Alen, Jarita Dill, Allan Bean, Anthony DeRosa (therapist), Daniel Tucker, Oren Smith, Keimar Clarke, Xavier James, Chloe Kempe, Jay Fiddick (trainer), Albert Donawa, Ricky Sousa, Terrance Armstrong

Basketball — Johnathan Minors, Vance Lamont, Sullivan Phillips, Graham Robinson, Dean Jones, John Lee, Steven Simons, Greg Todd, Jason Lowe, Chris Crumpler, Phil Davis, Dale Jackso, Brian Purvey (coach), Gavin Mackenzie (coach), Roderick Spencer (coach), Tim Trott (coach), Diane Laird, Denice Burgess, Erica Woods, Jamila Godwin, Jenaya Wade-Fray, Lindsay Garrett, Marissa Wainwright, Susan Ross, Onika Holder, Teshae Thompson, Danielle Watson, Jamela Simons, Richard North (coach), Ralph Scott (coach), Eric Woods (coach), Craig Behan (physio)

Cycling — Ricky Sousa, Wayne Scott, Geri Mewett, Garth Thomson, Mark Hatherley, Ashley Robinson, Kim McMullen, Deanna McMullen, Glen Robinson (therapist), Dannielle Bezant (manager), Peter Dunne (manager)

Football — Kimmisha Perinchief, Ebonie Burgess, Waynesha Bean, Shonte Campbell, Arketia Smith, Jenay Edness, Ashley Wall, Vinze Zuill, Juanita Smith, Jessica Furtado, Whitnae Duerr, Nyisha Saunders, Dominique Richardson, Chloe Martin, Akilah Bremar, Shabena Crockwell, Jasmin Johansen, Cheyra Bell, Tiffany Swann, Raneika Bean, Daniel Johnson, Clyde Darrell, Cud-Joe Matthews, McQuinn Burch, Antonio Lowe, Devrae Tankard, Jacqui Simons, Robert Richardson, Marquel Waldron, Randy Spence, Seion Darrell, Keishan Bean, Shayne Hollis, Cecoy Robinson, Jason Davis, Nahki Wells, Tumani Steede, Tyrell Burgess, Angelo Simmons, Ajani Gibbons, Vance Brown (coach), Jeremy Salaam (coach), Kenny Thompson (coach), Albert Smith (coach), George Hayward (coach), Maureen Ryan (coach), Felicia DeRosa (coach), Andre Griffith (HOD)

Sailing — John Gardner, Rockal Evans, Stevie Dickenson, Campbell Duffy.

Golf — Yana Ballantyne, Laura Robinson, Katyna Rabain, Katrin Burnie, G.Leroy Burch, Nick Mansell, Blair Marshall, William Haddrell, Richard Bartlett (coach), Bob Legere (coach)

Swimming — Ashley Aitken, Eleanor Gardner, Nicloe Yearwood, Lara Loescher, Rebecca Sharpe, Nick Thomson, Richard Goodwin (coach), Sue Sharpe (coach), Julian Fletcher.

Tennis — Zarah DeSilva, Ashley Brooks, Caitlin Gordon, Jacklyn Lambert, Cayla Cross, Andrew Bray, Jensome Bascome, David Thomas, Gavine Manders, Jacob Trott, Ricky Malloy (coach), Steve Bean (coach)

Triathlon — Karen Bordage, Andrew Davis (coach)

Volleyball — Bruce Sinclair, Bill Bailey, Juanita Blee, Shauna Burns, Kim Burns, Wendy Gazzard, Eric Haller, Alex Hunter (trainer), Lisa LeBlanc, Gary LeBlanc (coach), Lori Morbey, Denise Somerville, Cora Lee Starzomski, Alvin Bell, Katarina Carnicka, Dorush Stacey (coach), Joanie Harper, Allyson Nicol, Elisabeth Rae, Kelly Ross, Raina Steer (trainer), Rebecca White, Geoffrey Blee, Tristum Cunningham (coach), Adam Fowler, Mike Gazzard, Ihab Khalil, John Martin, Adam Wong (coach), Yves Charbonneau, Bill Bucci (coach/referee), Jon Gazzard, Andrew Soares.

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