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Bermuda's 2007 May and June History

News and significant events for those months of that year

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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us).

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

2007. May 1. A Bermuda-registered company has received approval in the US to conduct a large, randomized study to track the effectiveness of a vaccine being developed to help smokers break their addiction to nicotine. Celtic Pharma has been given clearance for a Investigational New Drug application (IND) for its vaccine TA-NIC. The vaccine is said to work by causing nicotine that enters a patient’s bloodstream to encounter and then be bound by the TA-NIC vaccine, which creates an antibody too large to cross the blood-brain barrier and therefore reduces or eliminates any pleasure-giving stimulation from the nicotine. The treatment is designed to curb the craving for nicotine and lead to smokers giving up the habit. Previously the vaccine has been tested in 120 smokers in the UK, where it showed a level of effectiveness without any unexpected adverse events. The new US study, under the IND, is designed to assess the efficacy and safety of TA-NIC in managing smoking cessation when given in conjunction with standard support treatments. It is a double-blind, multi-centre dose-ranging trial, enrolling up to 200 patients in each of three treatment arms. The primary endpoint of the study is the abstinence rate at six months.  

May 2. A free late-night minibus service is being launched to help cut the number of drunk drivers on Bermuda's roads. Two vehicles will pick drinkers up from opposite the Emporium Building in Front Street in the early hours of Saturday mornings, under the scheme launched by the Centre for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention (CADA). However, taxi drivers last night reacted angrily to the news and accused organizers of "taking bread and butter from our mouths". They say they have relied on the custom of late-night revelers for years and claim they were not consulted properly over the move. Announcing the "Let Us Drive" initiative yesterday, CADA said one minibus would head to the west end and the other to the east, dropping passengers at their homes or as near as possible. The vehicles will make two trips from Front Street each, at 1.15 a.m. and 3.15 a.m. Each minibus — supplied by the St. George's and West End Minibus Company — seats 15 people, meaning a total of 60 will be taken home throughout the course of the evening. CADA said it was reacting to research showing that more than half of fatalities on Bermuda's roads in 2005 involved alcohol or drugs. Speaking at a press conference, CADA chairman Anthony Santucci said: "CADA remains committed to reducing the number of alcohol related deaths and accidents on Bermuda's roads." Officers arrested 120 motorists on suspicion of impaired driving. Last year, Police recorded 111 accidents where drink or drugs were suspected, 3.9 percent of the total 2,839. There were 113 arrests for impaired driving. A huge proportion of people suspected of drunk driving when stopped by Police fail breath tests. In 2006, 78 percent of the 262 people tested failed; in 2005 the figure was 80 percent and in 2004 it was 82 percent. Mr. Santucci said the service had been arranged to fill the gap when public transport is no longer available in the early hours of Saturday — also the time when most people are arrested on suspicion of impaired driving. He said the scheme could be extended if the trial period proves a success. A Bermuda Police Service spokesman said: "The Bermuda Police Service supports this latest initiative by CADA as we work together to make Bermuda's roads safer for all road users. The risk of injury, serious injury or death due to impaired driving is real and we urge the public not to drink and drive, but to use the available alternatives instead."

May 2. Court witnesses could be given more protection and help in a bid to ensure they give evidence. The introduction of a witness protection programme will be planned during a conference next week when the two-day meeting of experts on May 10 and 11 will focus on a ‘No Witness, No Justice’ programme already implemented in England and Wales. Fewer trials are collapsing there, and more witnesses giving evidence thanks to the scheme. Introduced in 2003, it focuses on everything from identity protection for those fearing reprisals to help with childcare and transport. News that similar moves are being considered in Bermuda has been welcomed by the mother of murdered teenager Shaundae Jones. The 20-year-old was gunned down in Dockyard four years ago, three months after giving evidence in relation to the stabbing death Tekle Mallory at Paget Ice Queen in 2001. No-one has been convicted of either murder. A man was extradited to Bermuda from Jamaica in connection with the killing of Mr. Jones, but had firearms charges against him dropped two years ago after a key witness failed to testify. Shaundae’s mother Marsha believes her son’s Ice Queen murder testimony may be linked to his death. He had not wanted to be a witness, she said, but she told him it was his duty. She speculated yesterday that a witness programme could have protected him, and that if one is implemented, it could yet bring his killer to justice.  

May 3. Seventy-five years ago, Lady Cubitt, wife of then-Governor Lieut-Gen. Sir T.A. Cubitt, was so distressed by the number of destitute, elderly people living in our community who, despite having worked hard all their lives, were unable to maintain themselves in old age that she was moved to found the Lady Cubitt Compassionate Association (LCCA). Its purpose was the relief of poverty, suffering and distress of local families. Incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1945, its focus also included the protection and care of neglected and needy children. As a result of this in particular, the Association became the only “approved society” under the Protection of Children’s Act, 1943 and received Government grants for use in this regard. By 1956 the LCCA had 82 children under its care, five of whom were placed for adoption until, in 1970, Government assumed all responsibility in this regard. Rev. Alton Thompson, who served as chairman of the now-defunct Cases committee for over 20 years, remembers those earlier years well. “We had a lot of work to do with children — finding homes for them, and sometimes the decisions were very, very difficult, but the LCCA was fulfilling a great need, particularly with the children. I found it rewarding, so much so that when I scaled down some of my work with various organizations, I decided to stay with the LCCA because it was dearest to my heart, and still means a lot to me,” he said. Today, the Association’s stated mission is to improve the quality of life, health and well being of those who are in medical, financial or emotional need, with particular care and compassion for children and the elderly, and it goes about its business in a very low-key way — a quality which not only Rev. Thompson, but also past chairman and board member Mrs. Denise Astwood found appealing. “I had always known about the LCCA and often sold tags for it,” she said. “In 1992 I was invited to join, and I liked it, as well as the fact that it was low-key, and not absolutely specific to one cause. What we could do for each case was decided on its own merits. If we could help we would, but if we felt another charity could help better referred it on. Our guidelines are not rigid.” Nevertheless, Mrs. Astwood points out that the registered charity has limitations on the amount of financial assistance it can provide, and it keeps pace with change by constantly updating its strategic planning.  In fact, the LCCA provides two distinct programmes. One is the General Assistance programme and the other is the Patient Overseas Financial Aid programme, the latter of which it administers on behalf of the Government, Ministry of Health and Family Services. Funding for the first programme comes from various sources including dues paid to the LCCA in lieu of union dues, bequests, its annual tag day and appeal to the corporate sector, as well as donations in lieu of funeral flowers. Funding for the second programme is via a Government grant, an interest-free repayment plan, and insurance claims made on behalf of the patient. In all cases, applications for assistance are carefully and thoroughly screened. In medical cases, the original application must originate with the patient’s doctor, and other requirements include approval of the application by Government’s chief medical officer, and an advance payment of 50 percent of the patient’s costs. A case manager works closely with each patient, the overseas hospitals, and others to provide a level of support too detailed to include here. In general assistance programme cases, the LCCA also cross-checks with other helping agencies, including all Government services, before proceeding with any assistance. Its newest initiatives are an initial funding of $250,000 towards the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital’s home care programme, which aims to move recovering patients to their homes rather than remaining in hospital beds — thus continuing a focus mainly on the elderly which Lady Cubitt started in 1932. Envisaged is a programme providing funding towards a health service aimed at lowering health care costs, the objective of which would be reducing the high volume of emergency and low-level admissions at KEMH, and focusing on the uninsured, the indigent, and those with standard HIP insurance. Meanwhile, sound fiscal prudence has allowed the LCCA to keep pace with the ever-growing demands placed upon it. Today, it has approximately 400 clients on its books, and disbursements from 2002-2006 were in excess of $350,000.  

May 4. The Education Review team made ten published recommendations to fix the public school system, with the first six of them needing to be implemented as soon as possible in order to improve the current system. They are:

May 4. Bermuda remains the world’s number one captive domicile — but it faced plenty of competition from rival jurisdictions attracting the attention of risk managers at RIMS this week. Barely 30 yards away from the impressive Bermuda booth, was the station of the number two offshore captive domicile, the Cayman Islands. And a couple of strides farther down the aisle was the Vermont booth. Elsewhere in the hall, the British Virgin Islands, Barbados, Hawaii and Guernsey all had a presence, all fighting for the same captive business that Bermuda wants. Captives offer corporations a means of self-insurance and hosting them has been the bread and butter of Bermuda’s insurance market for decades. With the evolution of more sophisticated risk management by companies, many more captives are likely to be established in the coming years. The Vermont booth attracted plenty of visitors — even if most were more interested in sampling its delicious free ice cream than in talking about captives. “Vermont and Bermuda are both leaders in the industry — arguably the leading onshore and offshore captive domiciles,” said Daniel Towle, director of financial services for the state of Vermont.

May 4. The Bermuda Chamber of Commerce has plunged into an insolvent position after suffering a $292,7927 loss in 2006, mostly as a result of Government ending the chamber’s contract to run the Island’s five visitor service bureaux. The losses swallowed up all the chamber’s previous cash reserves and, as of the end of last year, left the business group with a deficit of $192,456. Discussions are being held with the Department of Tourism seeking assistance to shoulder some of the financial burden caused by the loss of the visitor bureaux, which have resulted in staff redundancy payments alone estimated at $80,000. The chamber had previously been receiving an annual subsidy of $540,000 from Government to run the bureaux. Outgoing Chamber of Commerce president Peter Everson referred to the financial statement as a “bleak picture” when he addressed the chamber’s annual meeting at the Fairmont Princess Hotel, which was attended by around 250 members and guests, including Premier Ewart Brown and numerous Government ministers and officials. The audience heard that the chamber’s Destination Dockyard project, which made a $6,029 loss in 2005, had moved into a profitable position with a $5,461 return, but that piece of good news was cancelled out by a $10,531 loss made by the Harbour Nights promotion last year. A stony silence greeted the presentation of the figures by treasurer Sarah Farrington, who rounded off by asking members to step forward with cash assistance, echoing an earlier plea by Mr. Everson. She revealed the chamber’s total assets had decreased from $526,661 to $400,828 year-on-year and the Buy Bermuda campaign operated at a $23,479 loss in 2006 because of a reluctance by some members to offer financial support. She said the Harbour Nights loss was due to increased entertainment costs and said sponsors were being asked to provide more money to put it back on track.  

May 4. Hamilton Condominium Complexes: What they cost in 2007.

May 5. News this week that Government will seek to amend the environmental restrictions governing the importation of foreign soil was “music to the ears” of Bermuda Cricket Board, chief executive Neil Speight admitted last night. Since the national team qualified for the World Cup in the summer of 2005, local cricket’s governing body have made it clear their vision for the future of the game in Bermuda was being undermined by the absence of a viable ground on which to play home One-Day Internationals. But with Sports Minister Randy Horton revealing that he would be tabling amendments to the laws some time in the current parliamentary session, it’s now possible that Bermuda will be able to host international teams by the start of next summer. Asked for his thoughts on the matter yesterday, Speight insisted the Board would stay well away from the brewing political row begun by Opposition MP John Barritt on Thursday over whether importing soil from overseas to re-lay the National Sports Centre’s square would be environmentally safe. A Government spokesman confirmed last night that the proposal to amend the law had the full backing of the Environment Minister Neletha Butterfield and Premier Ewart Brown. “We’re not going to get involved in that at all,” said Speight. “This issue has been going on for a long time now (almost three years) and as far as I’m aware there have been lots of different people working on it at different times. So I’m certainly hopeful that after all this time a decision can be reached that is in the best interests of both cricket and the environment. As I’ve said many times, I think most people recognize how important it is that we have a quality national stadium for cricket. Without one we’re at a major disadvantage when it comes to preparing our national side for the task of re-qualifying for the World Cup in 2009. I had an opportunity during the World Cup to speak briefly with the Premier about this and it was heartening because he pledged his support and said he would ensure that progress was made.” Barritt said earlier this week that both he and his party “disagreed in the strongest possible terms” with Government’s plans to change the law.

May 7. The 330,000-plus readers of the Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada have been told of a "dark day for Bermudian justice" by the newspaper's editorial pages. The daily publication closely followed the Rebecca Middleton case and the recent judicial review in which new charges could have been filed against the Canadian girl's alleged killers. However, in a decision revealed last week, Chief Justice Richard Ground decided he could not violate the letter of the law, even though the law gave him the discretion to do so if the case was exceptional. In the end, Mr. Justice Ground rejected the claim made by the Middleton legal team which included British Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife Cherie Booth, QC. There will be no new investigation, no new criminal case. The editorial writer said of the Chief Justice: "The door was open. Chief Justice Ground chose not to walk through it. And so a family is left at a dead end on a long, agonizing road to find justice for their murdered child. And a judicial system is left so tied in knots by legal technicalities that it can't reverse what it clearly recognizes as its own grave errors, even in the face of public outcry both within and without its borders. It's a dark day for Bermudian justice."

May 7. Immigration Minister Derrick Burgess has detailed the passport requirements for Bermudians travelling to the United States. In a statement to the House of Assembly on Friday he said he wished "to address the confusion in some sections of the community regarding United States authorities' recently-announced requirements for passports held by Bermudians travelling to the US and the decision to deny new Bermuda passports to British citizens who formerly held Bermuda passports." He said that since the British Overseas Territories Act 2002, Bermudians can travel to the US visa-free using their British Overseas Territories Citizenship (BOTC) passport, with the Bermudian status stamp. The 2002 UK Act allowed Bermudians to hold both a BOTC and British Citizenship (BC) passport. It means Bermudians can also travel visa-free to the European Union on their BC (British Citizenship) passports. Mr. Burgess said that in order to travel to the US without needing a visa, the passport must be issued in Bermuda; it must show the holder is a BOTC or a British Dependent Territories Citizen; and it must have an official stamp showing the holder is Bermudian. Those who are both British Overseas Territories Citizens and British Citizens are free to carry two passports. However, a BC passport must have only been issued at the British Embassy in Washington, DC. Mr. Burgess said it was important to clarify the situation because for decades Bermudians had been allowed to travel to the US with Bermuda birth certificates and passports issued by the Bermuda Government. He said: "However, the relatively recent need for increased security has made the US authorities insist on the stamp being placed in the passport to show that the holder is Bermudian. "A BDTC or BOTC passport issued in Bermuda and bearing the stamp showing that the holder is Bermudian is a true passport proving the holder's territorial right of abode."

May 8. The handling of the Rebecca Middleton murder case was criticised in a documentary beamed out across Canada on Sunday. A CBC video journalist followed Dave Middleton, the father of the slain Canadian teen, as he went through a recent judicial review aiming to get fresh charges against two suspects. Entitled ‘Seeking Justice in Bermuda’, the broadcast, which reached an estimated 500,000 to 800,000 viewers, depicted Mr. Middleton’s heartache when the bid failed. No one has ever been convicted of the rape and murder of 17-year-old Rebecca, from Belleville, Ontario, who was on holiday in Bermuda when she was killed in 1996. On Friday, Chief Justice Richard Ground rejected an application from British human rights lawyer Cherie Booth — acting for Mr. Middleton — that Kirk Mundy, 31, and Justis Smith, 28, should face fresh charges of serious sexual assault, torture, and kidnap because murder proceedings against them were botched. Mundy and Smith were arrested days after the killing, with Mundy claiming to have had consensual sex with Rebecca. He said he found Smith killing her when he returned from washing himself in the sea. Before Police completed forensic tests, prosecutors accepted Mundy’s guilty plea of accessory after the fact — meaning he knew a crime had been committed and assisted or sheltered the offender — while Smith was charged with premeditated murder. However, Smith’s murder trial was thrown out by a judge. The current Director of Public Prosecutions, Vinette Graham-Allen, acknowledged during the judicial review that Mundy should never have been allowed to plead to the lesser accessory charge, and Smith’s trial should not have been halted. However, she argued that the law does not allow the case to be re-opened at this stage, and Mr. Justice Ground upheld this in his ruling on Friday. CBC documentary-maker Peter Wall showed Mr. Middleton’s frustration that no one has ever been brought to justice for his daughter’s murder. “When the whole thing fell apart, they basically washed their hands of it and said there was nothing more than we can do,” he said of those working in Bermuda’s judicial system at the time. “It’s like a lot of things in life — it’s not the problems you have but how you handle them, and I don’t think this problem has been handled very well at all in Bermuda.” Mr. Middleton plans to appeal against the decision of the Chief Justice in the Court of Appeal. CBC news host Carole MacNeil revealed that this could cost Mr. Middleton an additional $150,000 on top of the $100,000 legal bill he already faces for the judicial review. The programme was available for viewing online at cbc.ca/sunday.

May 8. Governor Sir John Vereker announced today he is stepping down in October. He will be replaced by career diplomat Sir Richard Gozney, who is British High Commissioner in Nigeria. Sir John, who arrived in Bermuda in 2002, said five years was the longest stint of any Bermuda Governor since Lord Martonmere in the 1960s. He said: "I am delighted at Sir Richard's appointment. He is a distinguished diplomat. I know him and have worked with him and from my discussion with him I also know how keen both he and his wife are to come to Bermuda." It's expected Sir Richard, who is in his mid-50s, will arrive in the beginning of December with Deputy Governor Mark Capes filling in during the interim. At a press conference at Government House Sir John, flanked by his wife Lady Vereker, said he had enjoyed his time in Bermuda and will have plenty to do in his remaining five months in the post.

May 8. The Opposition is calling for greater accountability from Government Ministers when it comes to late financial reporting. The statement comes in the wake of the Auditor General’s annual report which revealed $523m in Government money is unaccounted for. It’s a problem brought on by tardy filings from a slew of Government QUANGOs and public funds. Deputy Opposition Leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin said: “As the Auditor says, the Government’s Code of Conduct places responsibility for late reporting squarely on the shoulders of the Ministers responsible. Were they to crack down in a wholehearted way, the problem would be well on its way to a complete resolution.” Mrs. Gordon-Pamplin is also the Shadow Minister for Finance. In one section, her statement reveals what may be a discrepancy, or perhaps an out-of-date list. She outlined four Government funds and branded them as the “worst offenders”. They are: Contributory Pension Fund, Government Employees Health Insurance Fund, Hospital Insurance Fund and Mutual Insurance Fund. However Minister of Finance Paula Cox explained that two of those funds — Contributory Pension Fund and Government Employees Health Insurance Fund — have been submitted for audit. She further explained that the other two ‘offenders’ have been under the control of the Bermuda Health Council since 2005, where the new Chief Executive has made it a priority to bring all financial reports up to date.

May 9. Canceling a gay family cruise earlier this year was a missed opportunity for the churches, but there is still a chance for them to act in a Christian way, according to an AME Pastor. Reverend Wilbur Lowe, pastor of the Mount Zion AME church, felt the controversy over the Rosie O’Donnell gay family cruise was handled poorly by United by Faith, an organisation representing 80 churches in Bermuda. Last month, chairman of United by Faith Andre Curtis issued a statement on the cancellation of the cruise, calling it a “victory for God”. Yesterday, however, Rev. Lowe said while he does not support the homosexual lifestyle, he will not discriminate against a group of people, which is what the comments about the cruise did. “I personally felt that the church missed out on a great and good opportunity to show Bermuda and the world what good Christians they are or could be,” he said. “I want it to be known in my Christian convictions, I don’t support the homosexual lifestyle, but that does not give anyone cause to hate someone or treat someone differently. I don’t think they (United by Faith) have represented the religious community well. I think there is an awful lot of support for the cruise even within the church.” Now, Rev. Lowe is concerned the wider Bermudian public blames the churches for the cruise failing to come to the Island and that Rosie O’Donnell’s people see the church as “a bunch of Christians that hate them”. The responsibility, however, he believes falls on the churches to right the wrongs because “we are the people who claim to be on a higher spiritual vein”. There needs to be created a better relationship because of what has happened. We need to open up the communication lines,” he added. “Why can’t we meet and get together? There’s still a chance for the Church to act in a Christian way.”  

May 9. The site of the former NASA station at Cooper's Island could once more become Bermuda's link to outer space. The out-of-bounds area of buildings and infrastructure abandoned by the US space agency when it left the Island in 2001 is being viewed as one of two likely spots for a commercial satellite operation. The other site possibility is also a former US establishment, the one-time US Navy listening post and research base at Tudor Hill in Southampton. Both are being considered as the best spots for an earth station to track and communicate with orbiting space satellites. At the end of last week TerreStar Global revealed it had signed a letter of intent with Government to build a satellite operations facility in Bermuda after the Island became part of the UK Outer Space Act last November. Bermuda's geographical position will allow TerreStar to carry out satellite operations for North American satellites and for a planned European satellite network. Mobile communications provider TerreStar is a subsidiary of Motient Corporation and plans to own and operate the first next-generation mobile satellite integrated with terrestrial communications networks and to offer a 4G IP network. The company said it was working with Government to "re-develop existing, but currently unutilized, building sites in Bermuda" for the location of a new satellite station. A spokesman for the Ministry of the Environment, Telecommunications and E-Commerce this week confirmed the two sites under consideration were the former NASA base at Cooper's Island and the site of the old US Navy base at Tudor Hill. NASA opened its Cooper's Island base in 1961 and it was used as a tracking and communications facility for various space programmes, including the Mercury and Apollo missions and space shuttle flights because of its key geographical position in relation to launch trajectories for space vehicles blasting off from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The base was shut down in 2001 and is now a collection of abandoned buildings and related structures. Part of the area has already been earmarked by Government as a future nature reserve and visitor centre. Tudor Hill was an important listening base for the US Navy during the Cold War and played a role tracking Soviet submarines heading for Cuba. It opened in 1955 and was decommissioned in 1995.  

May 9. Government efforts to crack down on tax delinquents are having a beneficial impact, according to the Auditor General, but his findings reveal there is still a lot of work to be done. Government is owed $42 million in taxes and pension contributions. The latest Auditor General annual report publicly outs the employers and land owners who are the most delinquent. They are singled out in the back pages of the AG’s report if they owe more than $40,000. Arrears in the area of payroll taxes totaled $10.8m spread among 67 employers, past due pension contributions totaled $2m among 24 employers, and there are 13 land tax payers who meet the $40,000 threshold, leaving the Government short an additional $1.3m. Some names appear on more than one of the aforementioned lists. For example the Hamiltonian Hotel & Island Club is at the very top of all three dubious lists. According to figures as of March 2006, the Hamiltonian owed $561,854 in payroll taxes, $346,408 in land taxes and $232,357 in pension contributions. To square its debt to Government, the Hamiltonian would have to write a cheque for $1.14m. It’s an unlikely occurrence because the hotel has been closed for years and has been on the AG’s delinquent list for a long time. Below are top ten delinquents in each area.

Payroll Arrears:

Pension Arrears:

Land Tax Arrears:

Closer scrutiny of the numbers reveal interesting truths. For example, the explosion of the construction industry in Bermuda does not seem to negate the number of construction firms skipping on their payroll taxes. Of the list of 67 employers owing more than $40,000 To Government at least ten are on the Auditor General’s arrears list.

Payroll Arrears - Construction Firms

David and Donna Dunkley are consistently climbing rungs on the list of people in arrears on land tax. As of last year they owed $251,943 to Government coffers. David Dunkley is a widely known name because he resigned from the United Bermuda Party not long ago in what many consider the beginning of a three-person high profile political exodus. In 2005 the couple owed $190,523. In 2004 is was $137,798. At this point the land owner furthest behind in tax payments is the Hamiltonian Hotel. The Somerset Bridge Recreation Club has trouble paying its payroll taxes. The arrears total $91,006. The amount is noteworthy because the Sports Minister recently promised $200,000 of Government money to the White Hill sports facility. If about half of that grant was given back, the club’s debt would be cleared. It’s an unlikely proposition however. At the time the grant was announced, Minister Randolph Horton said the money would be used to “upgrade their facilities for such things as the addition of changing rooms, improved bathrooms and additional lighting and other structural refurbishment”. He said nothing of payroll taxes.

May 9/10. Construction work on the five-star St. Regis hotel at the former Club Med site is to begin this year, Premier Ewart Brown pledged at a public meeting last night. Dr. Brown said he wanted to reassure “pessimists” that ambitious plans to transform the derelict building would not go the same way as a string of similar proposals which have collapsed in the past few years. Speaking at the Progressive Labour Party meeting in Clearwater School, St. David’s, Dr. Brown told a crowd of about 50 people that the luxury resort could help rejuvenate St. George’s. “The pessimists among you will say: ‘So what, there have been others who said they were going to build.’ I appreciate and understand your pessimism, but let me tell you I made a commitment: in 2007, construction will begin on the new hotel in St. George’s. I can promise you it will be delivered. “Bermuda now has some buzz. Bermuda is popular again with the Wall Street companies, who invest hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s why that site is going to be developed.” He said work would begin as soon as Carl Bazarian, of Bazarian International, the investment banking firm behind the scheme, completes negotiations over a lease with the Ministry of Works and Engineering. "Carl Bazarian is a very serious and committed developer. I’m very confident that he will keep his word. We need to see that building leveled. We need to see it gone. That will the very first phase of the work done. I wanted to come here tonight and reassure you that nothing has got in the way. The brand that’s been mentioned is St. Regis. You don’t get a much more luxurious brand that St. Regis. Club Med is to St. Regis as a dwarf is to a giant. We are bringing something that can make a difference in the town. I have challenged the mayor and alderman to help make St. George’s alive again. It’s been too sleepy. Business doesn’t thrive in a town that sleeps.” In recent years, a succession of developers have been lined up for schemes at Club Med, which closed in 1988. Proposals for a $210 million five-star hotel with piazza-style colony housing fell through two years ago, while plans for a five to seven star hotel with a Nick Faldo signature 18-hole golf-course were scrapped last November. A storm of controversy has surrounded the derelict site in recent weeks, after a dozens of homeless people moved in as squatters. The new St. Regis resort is expected to be completed in three years. It is likely to have up to 150 units, comprising one- two- or three-bedroom apartments and villas, and will be a maximum three storeys high.  

May 11. Government is to overhaul the registration of land rights through Land Title Registration. Ministers want to modernize Bermuda’s registration of deeds and documents in order to speed up property transactions and make ownership records more accurate. They claim it will make buying and selling houses easier and reduce fraud. The new system will harness information technology to change the way in which deeds and documents are stored. Ministers say it will lead to a more efficient use of the Island’s limited land resources and assist in the renovation of derelict properties. Under proposed legislation, there will be a statutory requirement to present documents at the Land Title Registration Office following property completion dates — ending private custody arrangements and the lodging of paperwork at the Registry General office. Government says the new electronic system will end costly investigations of title and provide up-to-date records of land rights. However, it could take 15 years to implement. The Public Consultation Document states: “Initial projections indicate that it will take approximately 10-15 years to arrive at a point whereby as a result of Land Title Registration a comprehensive register exists for the Island.” According to the Government, Land Title Registration will result in improved security of tenure, increased market value and less boundary and ownership disputes. As the registration programme moves forward, Land Title Registration will assist with the identification of owners of derelict property with a view to bringing these back into beneficial use for the community. 

May 11. Immigration Minister Derrick Burgess has detailed the passport requirements for Bermudians traveling to the United States. In a statement to the House of Assembly last Friday he said he wished "to address the confusion in some sections of the community regarding United States authorities' recently-announced requirements for passports held by Bermudians traveling to the US and the decision to deny new Bermuda passports to British citizens who formerly held Bermuda passports". He said that since the British Overseas Territories Act 2002, Bermudians can travel to the US visa-free using their British Overseas Territories Citizenship (BOTC) passport, with the Bermudian status stamp. The 2002 UK Act allowed Bermudians to hold both a BOTC and British Citizenship (BC) passport. It means Bermudians can also travel visa-free to the European Union on their BC (British Citizenship) passports. Mr. Burgess said that in order to travel to the US without needing a visa, the passport must be issued in Bermuda; it must show the holder is a BOTC or a British Dependent Territories Citizen; and it must have an official stamp showing the holder is Bermudian. Those who are both British Overseas Territories Citizens and British Citizens are free to carry two passports. However, a BC passport only has to have been issued at the British Embassy in Washington, DC. Mr. Burgess said it was important to clarify the situation because for decades Bermudians had been allowed to travel to the US with Bermuda birth certificates and passports issued by the Bermuda Government. He said: "However, the relatively recent need for increased security has made the US authorities insist on the stamp being placed in the passport to show that the holder is Bermudian. A BDTC or BOTC passport issued in Bermuda and bearing the stamp showing that the holder is Bermudian is a true passport proving the holder's territorial right of abode."

May 11. The Attorney General yesterday promised a raft of measures to modernize Bermuda’s criminal justice system including legislation to protect vulnerable victims and witnesses. Senator Philip Perinchief told a conference that a change in the law was needed to eradicate what he described as an “unfortunate culture” in Bermuda of protecting the accused, as opposed to those affected by crime. He was backed by Chief Justice Richard Ground — the Island’s top judge — who told the audience of criminal justice professionals at Elbow Beach Hotel that the Island had already made progress in better recognizing and respecting the needs of victims. “But we still need to be continually thinking about how we can further modernize the law of evidence and procedure so as to achieve fairness for all,” added Mr. Justice Ground. “Achieving fairness means achieving the right balance between the rights of the accused and the rights of the victim. This calls for a critical examination of the way we do business.” The two-day conference is named No Witness, No Justice after a witness protection programme implemented in the UK four years ago which has dramatically reduced the number of trials collapsing there. Mr. Justice Ground said: “I am sure that we have a lot to learn from their experience — and, I suspect, from their mistakes.” He said careful thought was needed as to whether the current system in Bermuda of requiring witnesses to give oral evidence at preliminary inquiries and then again at trial needed to change. Requiring children and victims of sexual or violent crime to give their evidence twice often amounted, he claimed, to “little more than institutionalized intimidation”. The Chief Justice also called for money to be pumped into improving equipment and facilities. “A witness care unit needs an office and personnel,” he said. “Vulnerable witnesses can’t give evidence by video link if there is no video link. Intimidated witnesses are not going to be reassured by shabby courtrooms with little or no security.” Several high profile murders on the Island have led to calls for better protection for witnesses and victims. Detectives recently had to offer a $50,000 reward for information on the unsolved slaying of 18-year-old Jason Lightbourne — shot dead on Ord Road in Paget last July — due to witnesses’ reluctance to talk. Marsha Jones, whose 20-year-old son Shaundae was gunned down in Dockyard three months after he gave evidence in relation to a fatal stabbing in 2003 has made repeated calls for a witness protection programme. Police have also been criticised for asking victims of violent crime to pick out their assailants from line-ups in full view of those taking part. 

May 12. Up to 150 workers building the $100 million Tucker’s Point Hotel and Spa downed tools yesterday for six hours. One of their key demands is a ballot on the right to unionize the construction workers of the Somer’s Construction Company. There are also concerns over contractors and sub-contractors taking illegal deductions from employees’ pay checks, threatening foreign workers with deportation if they unionized and lack of health insurance. The work stoppage by 100 to 150 workers from Somer’s Construction started at 6 a.m. yesterday. The picketing ended just before 12 p.m. Last night union leaders called on Government to change employer legislation to crack down on companies failing to comply. Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert said last June the company was served with the letter of recognition. Although the company does not want employees to unionize, it has not put the issue to a ballot. Under Bermuda’s labour laws, a company is required to hold the ballot after 14 days or face arbitration. Despite repeated attempts, The Royal Gazette was unable to obtain a comment from vice-president of Somer’s Construction, Mark Butt. Ross White, vice-president of the BIU Construction Division, hoped the work stoppage would highlight the concerns. Mr. White said: “Once the complaints go in front of Labour Relations the length of time for the complaint to be heard is too long. They are not dealt with in a timely manner. “We were pointing out with the work shut-down we were trying to bring to light these employers are violating the law without recourse.” Mr. Furbert added: “Labour legislation is there to protect the employer and the employee. The challenge now is to have the employers follow the law of the land. Penalties need to be added because right now it is just a slap on the wrist for violations of the law. I would hope this would encourage other companies to sit down with employees to address any concerns they have. Yesterday was about ‘enough is enough’. It is time to give employees what is rightful and just. They can take the high road or the low road. I hope they take the high road.” Minister of Labour and Immigration, Derrick Burgess issued a statement saying: “The Labour Relations Office has been apprised of the dispute and is assisting with mediation.”

May 12. Vulnerable witnesses and victims of serious crime could be moved abroad prior to court trials to prevent intimidation. Attorney General Philip Perinchief said the measure was likely to be included in new legislation aimed at improving the Island’s criminal justice system. “We are looking at witnesses being sent abroad before trial,” he said. “They would be temporarily located somewhere else, out of the jurisdiction, for example in the UK.” He said that continued protection for witnesses after they have given evidence in court could also be on the cards plus stiffer sentences for those convicted of witness intimidation. “It’s a question of us being able to make these witnesses feel as comfortable as possible. In the long-term we need legislation that would assist that.” Senator Perinchief said though witness intimidation was not unique to Bermuda, the size of the Island exacerbated the problem. In a small country such as Bermuda there arises, I suppose, a culture of protectionism for the accused who very often is somebody’s ace boy,” he said. It’s certainly a culture that is counterproductive to bringing about justice in this country and it’s one we are going to tackle head on.” The Minister was speaking after a two-day conference at Elbow Beach Hotel which focused on whether Bermuda should launch a witness and victim care programme based on a successful UK initiative called No Witness, No Justice.

May 12. The head of development at the International Cricket Council has hinted Bermuda’s One-Day International status could be in jeopardy if the Island is not in a position to host international matches by next summer. Australian Richard Done said yesterday he was “surprised” there had still been no progress on the square at the National Sports Centre since his last visit a year ago — pointing out that Bermuda are the only country out of the 16 ODI nations not in possession of an accredited ground. The ICC’s high performance manager was on the Island this week meeting with Bermuda Cricket Board to map out the national team’s programme in the lead-up to the World Cup qualifying tournament (formerly the ICC Trophy) to be held in Malaysia in 2009. “It’s been 12 months since my last visit to the Island and we’re still in exactly the same position with regards to the square at the National Sports Centre,” he said. “That’s a little disappointing to be honest but I’m encouraged by the news that the Government appears to be looking seriously at the possibility of importing soil. Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Kenya and Canada have all had grounds accredited in the past 12 months — that’s in recognition of the fact that ODI status carries with at an obligation to have grounds on which ODIs can be played. From my perspective it’s probably become more important now than it was 12 months ago for Bermuda to have an accredited ground because without one, attempting to re-qualify for the World Cup in 2009 is going to be much harder. As far as I’m concerned this has to be top of the priority list because from June next year, Bermuda are scheduled to host three Intercontinental Cup matches as well as a whole host of ODIs as well.”  

May 16. Norwegian Cruise Lines will join Royal Caribbean in offering cruises next year that leave from East Coast port of Baltimore, the Maryland Port Administration announced. NCL’s Norwegian Majesty will offer ten seven-day cruises from Baltimore to Bermuda from June 2008 through August 2008. Its first cruise will set sail on June 21, 2008. “We are delighted to welcome Norwegian Cruise Lines for what we hope is the beginning of a long, successful relationship,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said in a statement. About 125,000 passengers embarked or disembarked from Baltimore last year, according to the port administration.

May 16. A final verdict on horse and carriages during Hamilton’s Harbour Nights will have wait until the Bermuda Police Service releases the findings of its investigation, according to a statement from the city’s Mayor. Safety concerns over horse and carriage rides reached a boiling point after two spooked horses stampeded into a crowd of people at the first Harbour Nights celebration of the year on April 25, three weeks ago. Nineteen people were injured, including one woman who was seriously hurt and required an extended hospital stay. Since then horse and carriage operators have been temporarily banned from Harbour Nights. Last night, the Corporation of Hamilton announced it will keep the temporary ban in place at least until Police release their investigative report. A Police spokesman confirmed the investigation is ongoing. Hamilton Mayor Sutherland Madeiros said: “It is important that we balance the safety of the public with the desires of tourists and business owners within the city of Hamilton. “We have considered the tragic incident that took place at Harbour Nights three weeks ago and have decided to temporarily suspend horses and carriages at the weekly event until we receive and are able to take into consideration the official police account of what happened. At that time, the Corporation will make another announcement in regard to future policy on the issue.” Members of the public, and even horse and carriage operators, have been split over what the Corporation of Hamilton should do next. Some believe the horse and carriage rides are essential to the old city flavor that tourists enjoy, others say a permanent ban on horse and carriage rides in the city is the only way to properly protect the public.

May 17. World Cup spinner Dwayne Leverock has vowed to continue playing international cricket. The Southampton Rangers and Somerset Cup Match veteran remains committed to the national cause and is determined more than ever to play his part in helping the Island qualify for the 2011 World Cup. “I haven’t retired. I’m looking to go right along through to 2009 to help the team re-qualify and then after that I will make a decision (about retirement),” Leverock said. With senior national team members Saleem Mukuddem, Dean Minors and former skipper Clay Smith having retired, Leverock believes there is other talent out there capable of filling the void. “We just have to push on with the players that are left and try and help the youngsters come through. The senior players must now establish a foundation to help the younger ones coming through to be successful in the future. And I think we do have the talent. It’s just a matter now of showing them what the processes are to get them to understand from a young age,” the charismatic cricketer added. Leverock is also among those who would like to see the national team playing more frequently on the international stage. “I think the more active we are the better it will be for the country. The more games we play the better we will become at perfecting the processes in becoming the top Associate,” he said. Only last week ICC high performance manager Richard Done agreed that it’s important for the Island to gain as much exposure as possible playing at the international level. “I’ve spent a lot of time since I arrived talking to Gus (Logie), Neil (Speight) and Irving (Romaine) identifying the type of opposition Bermuda should be playing against and one of the areas under discussion is the possibility of organizing fixtures against the best teams in the West Indies,” Done said. “This is something we’re looking at for both Bermuda and Canada and in the programme we’re putting together we’re looking at fitting in games against the likes of Trinidad and Barbados in around February, March and April of next year. That I think would work very well in terms of getting Bermuda exposed to quality cricket.” Leverock, who rose to fame overnight after dismissing England batsmen Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood in the lead up to the World Cup, has not played domestically since returning from cricket’s premier showpiece in the Caribbean earlier this spring. The veteran left-arm spinner has been experiencing pain in his tonsils lately and is now scheduled to have them removed later this month. “I should be back playing early next month,” he added. “But I guess you can say that I could use a little break. Sometimes your body needs a bit of rest.”

May 17. Six stamps commemorating Bermuda’s signature training vessel, the Spirit of Bermuda, will be released today. This is the second of four stamp issues by the Bermuda Post Office this year in its efforts to portray all areas of Bermuda’s heritage, culture and history. The stamps, which depict six different views of the sloop, from the laying of the keel, sea trials to its arrival in Bermuda will be available at post offices today. The Spirit of Bermuda was built in 26 months by Rockport Marine in Rockport, Maine, USA, but the original inspiration for the sloop comes from an 1834 oil painting by John Lynn. The ten cent stamp is a view of the hull construction, which was made upside-down over a wooden mould and the 35 and 70 cent stamps depict the sea trials of the sloop. After the sloop was launched on Saturday, August 13 last year, it went through extensive sea trials in Maine before 32 crew sailed it to Bermuda. On September 30, last year the Spirit of Bermuda approached Bermuda from the Southwest side, which is depicted on the 85 cent stamp and then proceeded to Hamilton Harbour, which is on the $1.10 stamp. The $1.25 stamp depicts the sloop powering upwind in Bermuda’s Great Sound. On June 21 this year the Bermuda Philatelic Bureau will issue the next six stamps, which will commemorate the 400th Anniversary of Jamestown.

Stamps of Spirit of Bermuda

May 18. An addiction specialist believes hallucinogenic drugs and amphetamines are on the rise in Bermuda. And he says drug activity should rise in the summer months because students will return from overseas with newly-formed habits. Speaking at a Parents Resource Institute for Drug Education (PRIDE) meeting Kenneth Matthew said the level of drug use and drugs on the Island tend to spike during summer months. Mr. Matthew, who is the founder of Trust Recovery a 12-step based recovery programme said people need to start addressing the drug and alcohol problem instead of sweeping it under the carpet. He said: “Those of us in the addiction business know that when summer comes students come back with some of the things they have learned, and not all of them were in the classroom. “And we’ve got to be equipped with up to date information because barbiturates and hallucinogens are becoming a big thing here just like in the US.” While marijuana, heroin and cocaine have always been drugs of choice on the Island he said he believed that and hallucinogenic drugs were on the rise. He said that the drugs were growing in popularity in the US and being smuggled to Bermuda more frequently. And a Government study into drug use completed in January and due to be released in coming months should point to the growing popularity of drugs like ecstasy and amphetamines, also known as speed, in Bermuda he said. His company’s motto is “teaching recovery using straight talk” and yesterday he said parents need to bring back tough love. He said: “We need to stop worrying about what our kids think of us and give them tough love. If they live under your house they have to follow your rules. And grandparents need to stop bailing them out. That’s a major problem here, too many parents are not getting involved in their kids lives.” Mr. Matthews explained that without tough love parents are enabling their children in addiction. 

May 18. Bermudian schoolchildren will get the chance to meet a former commodities trader described as having one of the quickest mathematical brains on the planet next week. Students at Berkeley Institute, CedarBridge Academy, Clearwater Middle School, Harrington Sound Primary School and Saltus Grammar School will benefit from workshops with American Mike Byster, who uses tricks and games to make learning maths fun. A former trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Mr. Byster now travels the US as a volunteer teacher dubbed the Human Calculator. He is being brought to the Island by the Investment Bermuda charity and the Berkeley Institute board of governors. Investment Bermuda director Anthony Witherspoon, a consultant to the Ministry of Education, said: “I saw Mike on 20/20 (an ABC news show in America) and it talked about his extraordinary maths talent. I was just blown away. He can do computations in his head in a matter of seconds. I contacted him and he indicated that there were thousands of schools trying to get him to come. After a little persuasion, I persuaded him to come and give workshops. Mike is said to have the fastest mathematical mind in the world. He will be providing maths workshops at several schools on the Island next week and will be meeting with the Premier on Monday.”

May 18. The parade will begin at 1 p.m. and will start at Bermudiana Road. Travelling south on Bermudiana Road, the parade will take a left onto Front street and continue East until it reaches Court Street. The Parade will then take a left onto Court Street going North until Dundonald Street. It will take a left on Dundonald Street and will go West until Cedar Avenue where it will take a Right. The Parade will continue on its regular route around the Tennis Stadium and will end in Bernard Park.

May 19. Opposition MP John Barritt has re-launched his bid to change the law to allow prosecutors to launch an appeal on any grounds if a defendant has been acquitted. Currently the Crown can only appeal on matters of law but Mr. Barritt's bill would allow appeals to be launched on other grounds. Mr. Barritt said the absence of this law had stopped the Crown from reopening the notorious botched Rebecca Middleton murder case. In late 2004, Mr. Barritt tabled a bill to allow prosecutors to appeal for a new trial if a judge had thrown out a case by ruling there was no case to answer — as happened in the Justis Smith murder trial. That bill would have allowed the Director of Public Prosecutions to appeal on fact or mixed law and fact but Mr. Barritt dropped the bill after getting indications that the Government might table the bill itself. But nothing has happened and now Mr. Barritt said he sensed a changing mood on the Government benches.  

May 19. For the first time since the United States Naval Air Station closed in 1995, a US Fleet Forces Band is returning to the Island to fulfill a variety of engagements, including participation in the Bermuda Day parade. The 35-member Band was invited here by US Consul General Gregory Slayton following an initial request from Minister of Social Rehabilitation Dale Butler, although it has been Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs Wayne Perinchief who has been responsible for much of the follow-through. The largest of the Navy’s twelve Fleet Bands, directed by Lt. Cdr. Ralph G. Barrett, USN, will arrive in Bermuda on Monday, May 21 and commence live performances on May 22 with visits to CedarBridge Academy and the Berkeley Institute. That afternoon, smaller ensembles will visit the ‘Westmeath’ and ‘Matilda Smith’ rest homes. For their final performance of the day, the full complement of musicians will perform in tandem with the Bermuda Regiment Band during the regular Tuesday night ‘Destination Dockyard’ festivities. On Wednesday, May 23 the Band will first perform at Saltus Grammar School before giving a public concert on the steps of City Hall at noon. In the afternoon the woodwind ensemble will play at an official invitation-only reception at ‘Camden’, hosted jointly by Mr. Slayton and Mr. Perinchief. On its last full day in Bermuda, the Fleet Forces Band will march in the May 24 parade along Front Street, with a final spectacular performance at 5.15 p.m. at Bernard Park. “I am deeply honored to re-introduce the United States Fleet Forces Band to Bermuda after an absence of more than a decade. This joint endeavor is just one more example of the ties that bind our countries together, and I thank both Minister Butler and Minister Perinchief for their strong partnership in making this historic event a reality,” Mr. Slayton said.

May 21. Bermuda’s prison population dropped by almost a quarter in three years, Government has revealed. The decrease means the Island plummeted from having the joint second highest prison population in the world in 2003, to being at least 181st last year. Minister of Social Rehabilitation Dale Butler attributed the success to the Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) initiative, which provides community programmes and supervision to ensure incarceration is a last resort for non-violent offenders. “We’re delighted that we’ve seen this change. One of the key recommendations of the Tumim Report was to stop imprisoning people for misdemeanors (less serious offences) and we have done that,” he said, referring to a damning report in 1992 calling for a radical overhaul of the criminal justice system. At the time ATI was launched in 1999, said the Minister, “we were more punitive than rehabilitative and persons were being incarcerated at an alarming rate, averaging approximately 300 each year, for seemingly minor offences such as driving while disqualified”. In 2003, the Department of Court Services evolved under the umbrella of ATI to administer supervision in the community and expand rehabilitation programmes. The Department developed an integrated management system bringing the courts, treatment service providers, Corrections and the Police together to work in tandem. Statistics revealed by Mr. Butler on Friday show the Island’s prison population dropped from around 350 incarcerated in 2002/03 to 266 in 2006 — a decrease of 24 percent — as a result. Over the same period, the number of people under community supervision rose from 165 to 326. The re-offending rates for those on community supervision was 7.26 percent in 2005/06, which Mr. Butler hailed as a demonstration of ATI’s effectiveness. He also praised the fact that there was no re-offending in the drug court treatment programme and parole during that period as “remarkable”.  

May 21. Premier Ewart Brown’s “lavish” lifestyle last night came under fire after he and his entourage spent more than $280,000 of taxpayers’ money on overseas trips in a ten-month period. Dr. Brown racked up a $23,000 hotel bill during a one-week stay in London — an average of nearly $4,000 a night — sparking accusations from the Opposition that he is “living the life of an Indian princeling at the height of the British Raj”. The Premier, who is also Tourism Minister, splashed out nearly $8,000 on one return flight to the UK, and $19,000 on gifts during a tour of American colleges, according to figures released in Parliament on Friday. Dr. Brown’s companions on his 16 trips from last July to the end of last month — including security staff, former Press Secretary Scott Simmons, Chief of Staff Wayne Caines and Cabinet Secretary Marc Telemaque — cost a total of $130,000, while the Premier himself spent $155,000. The total amount spent by Ministers during the period was more than $560,000, although this does not include those for Acting Health Minister Philip Perinchief and Public Safety and Housing Minister David Burch, who do not sit in the House of Assembly. The figure spent by all Ministers for the 12 months leading up to July 2006 was $630,000. Dr. Brown’s most expensive outing was a seven-day Overseas Territories Consultative Council (OTCC) in London, which cost $36,000 for himself and $21,000 for his companions Mr. Simmons, Mr. Caines and Civil Service head Kenneth Dill. The Premier’s OTCC bill included $6,400 on airfares, $23,000 on his hotel and $5,700 on transport. His most costly airfare during the ten months was a $7,900 return ticket to London for a series of tourism meetings last August, while the bulk of $25,500 spent on gifts went on college tours in Huntsville and Alabama in March. On average, each of Dr. Brown’s 79 days away cost the public nearly $2,000. Shadow Finance Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin last night described the statistics as “hair-raising”.  

Other findings included:

The Premier could not be reached for comment over the weekend.

May 21. The independent review into Bermuda’s failing public education system cost almost a quarter of a million dollars, it has emerged. Education Minister Randy Horton, in answer to parliamentary questions from former Opposition leader Grant Gibbons, revealed that the final bill for the inquiry — which resulted in a damning report being delivered earlier this month on the Island’s public schools — was $241,411. Mr. Horton said the Bank of Bermuda would pay half the amount with the rest coming from public funds. Professor Hopkins and his team of five education experts — including two Bermudians — were paid $144,925. Mr. Horton added that Professor Hopkins had not been asked to undertake any other work by Government but that he and his team had offered to assist with “progressing” the recommendations from the review. In a television and radio broadcast on May 3, Premier Ewart Brown said the review — launched after more than half the Island’s senior school students failed to graduate last year — confirmed “what we know as a community to be true”. Shadow Education Minister Dr. Gibbons told The Royal Gazette that the Hopkins report came to many of the same conclusions as a document delivered to Government last November by the Association of School Principals. “How could the Minister not pay attention then?” he said. “He is even a member of this association. I think it’s very disrespectful.” He added: “It’s very easy to come along with a consultant and tell everybody what most people know and basically point fingers. It’s another thing entirely to actually implement change and make it work. I have no problem with Mr. Hopkins. I have a problem with the way this whole thing has been handled up to this point.”

May 21. Opposition leader Michael Dunkley Friday night defended his family’s dairy in the wake of Premier Ewart Brown’s allegations of unfair monopolization. Mr. Dunkley dismissed the Premier’s claims that the Dunkley family’s control of the Island’s milk supply was protected by United Bermuda Party-inspired legislation. He said Dr. Brown was attempting to distract the public from a row over the Island’s $1 million vehicles emissions testing contract, which was awarded to Bermuda Emissions Control (BEC) — a company run by the Premier’s cousin Donal Smith. Dr. Brown had suggested the UBP had shown racial double standards by accusing Government of cronyism over the emissions testing contract while ignoring its alleged part in protecting the dairy monopoly. “As for the Premier’s attack on my family’s business, I am not surprised,” said Mr. Dunkley. “It is his style to attack individuals, to deflect attention and to push the race button when questioned about questionable deals. I will not be deterred by this approach. “The Premier is under-informed about the dairy industry. I am proud of my family’s business; proud that we have served Bermuda well for more than 100 years. We operate in a free-market environment, where competition can emerge from any quarter.” The embargo on imported milk was introduced through the 1997 Importation of Milk (Prohibition) Act while the UBP was in power. However, Mr. Dunkley said it was intended to protect local diary farmers, and was passed with full support of both sides of the House of Assembly including, he claimed, Dr. Brown. He added that at the time he declared his interest as CEO of the production plant that buys milk from local dairy farmers to pasteurize and distribute. Mr. Dunkley backed UBP Senator E.T. (Bob) Richards, whose attack over the emissions testing contract sparked anger in the Senate last week.  

May 22. The Premier yesterday unveiled two measures to alleviate the financial burden on senior citizens. Speaking at a meeting with the Bermuda Senior Islanders group, Dr. Ewart Brown pledged to make healthcare more comprehensive and affordable for the older generation. He also announced that seniors will no longer have to pay the annual TCD driver’s licence renewal fee. The Premier said that Government is drawing up a scheme to give seniors assistance to help them attain higher quality healthcare. Currently there is a gap in coverage for those over the age of 65. Thirty days after retirees turn 65 they are no longer well insured. This forces most to dip into their own limited resources in order to buy coverage above the basic level provided by the Government’s Hospital Insurance Plan (HIP). The Premier’s initiative — being developed with Acting Health Minister Phil Perinchief — would do away with basic healthcare coverage and provide retirees with a more comprehensive insurance coverage. Dr. Brown said: “This programme will treat you with the same services that you get when you are working.” To pay for the programme, Dr. Brown and Mr. Perinchief are to explore a scheme whereby the 20-64-year-old workforce pays slightly more so they can have better healthcare when they retire. The Premier said: “All that is required of the workforce is a nominal surcharge. It would be barely noticeable. And the math is simple: you work now and get covered later. The future is paid for by the present. We’re working out the numbers, but it looks very possible, very do-able.” He told the meeting: “We will have people pay into the system when they are young. For every month, every year that you are in the workforce, you will be covered a certain amount of months or years after you are 65.” 

May 22. A passenger on a cruise ship and another on a private jet have both died after being suddenly taken ill. Mexican Manuel Diaz, 63, collapsed yesterday afternoon on a plane Police believe was bound for the US from Bermuda. Mr. Diaz was given CPR on board the jet while it returned to the Island so he could be rushed to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital by an ambulance waiting at L.F. Wade International Airport. However, he was pronounced dead by a physician at the hospital at 5.30 p.m. American Larry Lynn Hamilton, 64, collapsed while watching a show with his family on board the Empress of the Seas, docked at Number One Shed, in Front Street, yesterday. He was pronounced dead by the ship's doctor at 8.30 p.m. No foul play is suspected in either of the deaths, although Police have said an autopsy is likely for each.

May 22. A new nine-storey hotel due to be built on the Par-la-Ville car park site in Hamilton is not certain to be a Ritz-Carlton, the world famous chain said last night. Planning documents for the multi-million dollar scheme — which was granted a special development order (SDO) last December—- include the luxury hotel chain’s name and developer Unified Resorts has said publicly it welcomed the opportunity to bring Ritz-Carlton to Bermuda. But Vivian Deuschl, Ritz-Carlton’s corporate vice president for public relations, told The Royal Gazette that no contract had been signed committing the chain to the project. “Speculation is really all that I can tell you that it is at this point,” she said. “Discussions are always going on with developers and there could very well be discussions going on. Bermuda has been on and off the table for many years because it’s such a wonderful destination. Even if there are discussions going on there is nothing confirmed.” The proposed hotel — opposite Bermuda Stock Exchange on the corner of Par-la-Ville Road and Church Street — would be the first development in Hamilton to break the city’s seven-storey limit for buildings. Environment Minister Neletha Butterfield granted the SDO last December to fast-track the project and construction is expected to start this year. This newspaper contacted Ritz-Carlton yesterday after a local news website reported that the hotel plan could be in jeopardy because of a row about underground car parking. The report suggested that Unified Resorts would have to build the car park at a cost of $25 million but the Corporation of Hamilton would benefit from any revenue. When asked about the story, Ms Deuschl said: “There are no current plans for a hotel in Bermuda — (it’s) still a rumor.” Unified Resorts director Donal Smith would not comment and Ted Adams, the company’s president and chief executive officer, said: “I don’t know about any problems. From our standpoint everything is fine. I have no idea what this is about.” Corporation of Hamilton secretary Kelly Miller said: “No issues have been raised by the developer with the Corporation.” She said the Corporation would only benefit financially from car parking spaces which replaced the ones it would lose because of the development.

May 23. Police say an autopsy is likely following the death of American Larry Lynn Hamilton, 64, who collapsed on Monday evening while watching a show with his family on board cruise ship the Empress of the Seas. The vessel was docked at Number One Shed, in Front Street, at the time. Mr. Hamilton was pronounced dead by the ship's doctor at 8.30 p.m. No foul play is suspected. A host of cruise ships have brought thousands of passengers to Bermuda over the past few days. The Azamara arrived in St. George's with 530 people aboard on Monday, and has been docked in Hamilton throughout the week before leaving tomorrow. On Monday, the Empress of the Seas arrived in Hamilton carrying 1,600 passengers. It leaves for St. George's today before departing the Island tomorrow. The Norwegian Spirit arrived on Monday with 2,200 people before leaving later in the day, while the Explorer of the Seas arrived yesterday and leaves today. The Norwegian Majesty and the Norwegian Crown both arrived on Tuesday and leave on Friday. The Norwegian Dawn arrived last Thursday and left on the same day. 

May 23. Opposition MP Michael Dunkley called for a shake up on how Cabinet ministers are paid after parliamentary questions revealed there are no strict guidelines on who is deemed part-time and who is deemed full-time. There is a difference of $50,000 per year with full-time ministers pulling in $150,000 and part-time ministers getting $100,000. But Mr. Dunkley noted that two of the most important Cabinet ministers — Finance Minister Paula Cox and Education Minister Randy Horton are part-time. Other than Social Rehabilitation Minister Dale Butler, all other Ministers are full-time. Asked how ministers were assessed Premier Ewart Brown said there were no statutory definitions or guidance on determining whether or not a Ministerial position is full-time. But he said the Premier bore in mind criteria such as the size and budget of the Ministry, its workload, the number of full-time Ministers required to enable good governance and economic factors. Mr. Dunkley said: “His answer seems to me to reveal a Government which is either so disorganized or more likely, couldn’t care less which Ministers are full- and which are part-time. What seemed to be important for the Government was being able to jack up the salary, and make a little bonanza of an extra $50,000 a year (that’s all some working men and women earn in a year) available to whoever wants it.” And he added: “Guess who tops the list of part-time Ministers? The Honorable Paula Cox, Minister of Finance — the Minister who carries more responsibility on her shoulders than any of the rest of them and the Minister of Education, Hon. Randy Horton. These questions and subsequent answers show that the method used by the PLP Government to arrive at the latest remuneration levels is severely flawed. The next United Bermuda Party Government will ensure that this policy is reviewed and that Members of Parliament do not directly set their own compensation package.” 

May 25. With thousands of people having either walked the entire length of Bermuda or run from Somerset to Hamilton — or both — in the past month, there is one group of business professionals who have been kept particularly busy. The past month has given sports massage and body wellness experts packed appointment schedules as athletes and walkers seek out treatment to ease away the pains and strains of their exertions, or, in the case of the May 24 runners, look for a competitive edge with a relaxing massage before the big day. The closeness of the End-to-End walk and the May 24 Marathon Half Marathon Derby makes May a particularly busy month.  

May 25. Questions have been raised about why Government’s new Electronic Vehicle Registration (EVR) initiative, which calls for the installation of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags in cars and trucks as of next month, does not include motorcycles and mopeds. It is hoped the RFID tags will reduce the number of vehicles operating without a licence — estimated to be in the region of just under 6,000 — and translates into a loss of $11 million a year because Government is unable to enforce licensing requirements. While the new system is being welcomed by many, Government’s decision not to tag the more than 22,000 motorcycles on Bermuda’s roads is being questioned by the Opposition, especially as the majority of traffic offenders are believed to be motorbike owners. Opposition MP John Barritt said it made a “mockery” of the system and is calling on Government to review the system which goes into effect in a week. Mr. Barritt added that while the new system would be used to identify uninsured and unlicensed vehicles, it was important to see what other capabilities existed, and how the Government planned to ensure fines were paid. This concern was also raised by another Opposition MP, Trevor Moniz, who welcomed the new technology, but felt that unless the Government was able to enforce these new rules, it would all be “pointless”.

May 25. Police officers, firefighters and prison staff will be allowed to work until they are 60, under a new law approved by the Senate. MPs in the House of Assembly passed the Public Service Superannuation Amendment Act 2007 two weeks ago, and on Wednesday, it gained cross-party support in the Senate. The bill will allow those in the public sector to work later into their years, past the current retirement age of 55 for Police, fire and prison staff, and of 60 for other employees, such as teachers. Civil servants will now be able to carry on until they are 70, with the prior approval of the head of the civil service. The Public Service Superannuation Amendment Act was introduced by Finance Minister Paula Cox to address the falling birth rate and a growing older population. The Island's 20-64-year-old workforce is set to fall by 21 percent by 2045, from 40,428 to 31,950. However, the number of seniors is projected to increase by 140 percent, from 7,728 to 18,506. This will result in a decline in the ratio of workers to retired people of 5-1 to 2-1. To ease the ageing crisis — which is a global problem — the law will be amended to allow people who have retired from the civil service to rejoin without losing their monthly pensions claims. In introducing the bill, the Government also pointed to recruitment problems in the Police and Prison Service, saying that losing experienced staff to retirement at 55 is only exacerbating this problem. Officers will now be able to carry on working, subject to a review of health, conduct and performance. The public service pension scheme will also be amended to allow temporary, part-time and casual Government employees to participate, through regular contributions.  

May 25. Yesterday was a classic Bermuda Day moment: a tiny majorette, decked out in turquoise and sparkling silver, stepped back from her fellow baton twirlers on Front Street and proceeded to perform her own un-choreographed moves. The little girl, who looked to be less than four, spun around and strutted her stuff for the crowd to roars of approval and laughter, not far from where Premier Ewart Brown and other VIPs sat watching the proceedings. As she waved to onlookers and trotted cheekily after her troupe, the Dynamic City Rockettes, grinning parade-goers loudly applauded. The child’s impromptu display was just one of thousands of smile-inducing moments which made up this year’s May 24 parade. From wildly energetic Gombeys and awe-inspiring floats to BMX bikers and gospel singers, there was something to please everyone as the parade slowly snaked its way from Bermudiana Road to Bernard Park, taking in Court Street and North Hamilton for the first time. Tens of thousands of people lined the sunny streets of the capital to watch the long and vibrantly colored train of floats and performers, many embracing the 2007 theme of Bermuda’s Maritime Connections. And for such a tiny island, there was an enormous number of people taking part. Community and Cultural Affairs Minister Wayne Perinchief, who enjoyed the festivities with his 11-year-old son Ryan from a platform set up at the Flag Pole, said: “I couldn’t guess the numbers. One float alone had 100 performers. That’s an example of the scale of things. I’d say at least a third of our population comes out to this to watch. I think everybody is having fun today.” Dr. Brown, sitting with wife Wanda and Governor Sir John Vereker and his wife Lady Vereker, rose from his seat on numerous occasions to congratulate and joke with the community groups and organizations who had clearly spent endless hours perfecting their floats.  

May 25. The first phase of a controversial 96-unit affordable housing scheme is well underway. Premier Ewart Brown and Housing Minister Sen. David Burch said that 38 workers have been toiling away on the Loughlands site in Paget to ensure the housing development is on schedule. Already 21 units are near completion. When plans for the development were announced last year residents complained it would bring more congestion to the area and felt their needs were overlooked when the Special Development Order was granted. But this week Dr. Brown said the congestion issue was a misconception and Sen. Burch said studies into the traffic flow of the area had been done. Dr. Brown said: "This building does not mean 96 new cars because the people who move in here are already living in Bermuda, so many of them already have cars." Sen. Burch explained that Works and Engineering completed a traffic study and made suggestions about where the entrance would be placed. And he added: "We have made amazing progress anyone living in this neighborhood knows how much activity there has been on this site. These buildings are the first phase of the project and they contain six three-bedroom units and 15 two-bedroom units." Dr. Brown said the Minister and his team should be commended for their hard work and determination in bringing affordable housing to the Island. He said: "Nearly a year ago the Minister approached me and asked me if I would be interested in rezoning the property from tourism to residence because it was of national importance to have more affordable housing. This site is an example of this Government's commitment to housing." Along with the 96 homes the site will also have a nursery which will be housed in the original building on the Paget property. The site is also an example of public-private partnerships the politicians pointed out. The Government struck a deal with developed Gilbert Lopes in March 2006 to purchase the condos from him and then sell them at below market price, for approximately $450,000. With over 500 people on the list for the Loughlands units Sen. Burch said they would be allocated to people on a first-come first-served basis, but that they would only go to first-time buyers. The second phase is scheduled to begin in January 2008.

May 25. Government's Health Insurance Plan (HIP) has come under attack by doctors who claim they are receiving lump payments months in arrears and without the necessary documentation for verification. And they are questioning a new initiative placing Medical Clinic patients on the HIP scheme, saying it is unlikely they will be able to afford the associated costs. At present, the clinic’s patients are not charged for treatment — however, once the facility closes, such persons will incur 20 per cent of medical costs in accordance with the Government scheme’s regulations. “They had 100 per cent coverage at the clinic. HIP only pays 80 per cent, there’s still 20 per cent remaining. Who’s going to pay for it?” one local practitioner demanded. “The programme doesn’t work now. Doctors aren’t being paid on time as it is. How is this extra paperwork going to affect the payment process? Will it just add further strain to the system?” The doctor said the problems had been going on for a decade or more. He added he was slightly sympathetic towards HIP staff as it was his understanding the department doesn’t have a computer system, but those feelings were balanced by the vast displays of incompetence. “Government is no longer reconciling HIP payments,” he said. “It’s public knowledge — or it should be. It’s something (the Auditor General) Larry Dennis has pointed out in his report over the years. Doctors submit an application for payment and every now and then Government sends a lump sum — which isn’t itemized. There’s no account number or patient listed. It’s gotten to the point that some doctors are proposing to do what the dentists do, to tell their clients they have to pay up front and collect the money back from HIP.” Questions to Health Minister Philip Perinchief were not answered by press time. In his Annual Report for 2004, the Auditor General highlighted several concerns with the financial reporting of the Hospital Insurance Fund which manages HIP, stating it was three years in arrears and that he could not offer a qualified audit opinion because he had “insufficient documentary evidence” to investigate claims.  

May 25. “Wow!” was the reaction of soprano Marcelle Clamens’ voice coach in Germany when he saw the programme she has prepared for her solo recital at City Hall theatre on June 3. The event, ‘An Evening of Opera Arias and Classics’, will feature 13 arias from 11 operas, most of which are very well known and much loved by the public at large. For opera aficionados in particular it promises to be a feast of their favorite genre, but even those who claim not to like opera will quickly realize that they have been listening to many of the arias for years thanks to their use in advertising and elsewhere. It has been two years since Mrs. Clamens last gave a recital — and that long since she first had the idea of holding another one — so she is understandably excited about sharing her art on stage. Apart from the joy of performing, however, the Bermudian voice teacher’s goal is to raise funds for bursaries so that those of her own talented and dedicated students who need financial assistance can continue their studies. “That is very important to me, and that is why I want to encourage young people especially to come out and support their fellow Bermudians who love the art as much as I do,” she says. In terms of her students, all but one of whom are over 16 because the required technique “does not really lend itself to the younger singer”, Mrs. Clamens says her aim is to develop them in such a way that they can aspire to a local career. “In Bermuda, you can’t make any kind of career unless you are a cross-over. I teach them opera, which also teaches them to be a rhythm and blues or jazz singer because, to a point, it is all the same, so that is why I am hoping that people learn to appreciate not only opera but also realize that there is a distinct way of classical singing and rhythm and blues singing.” For her City Hall programme, Mrs. Clamens has chosen arias from the operas ‘Carmen’, ‘Giulio Cesare’ (Julius Caesar), ‘Le Nozze de Figaro’ (Marriage of Figaro), ‘La Boheme’, ‘Die Zauberflote’ (The Magic Flute), ‘Turandot’, ‘La Rondine’ and ‘Madama Butterfly’, each of which she will sing in their original language. Accompanying her on piano will be Ms Olga Zeidel. Further enriching the programme will be special guest and fellow Bermuda School of Music faculty member David France, who will perform a violin solo, and the Bermuda School of Music Consort — Chas Arnold, Jennifer Sheridan and Lisa Hollis (violins); Laura Appert (viola), Caroline Eaton and Carol Everson (clarinets), and Nancy Smith (flute) — who will play a work by Bach, with Ryan Ellis conducting. Mrs. Clamens who, in addition to her private students, teaches voice at the Bermuda School of Music, is a graduate of the prestigious University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor of Music degree with honours. She has competed in international voice competitions and concerts, and was a major prize winner in the Bellini International Voice Competition, and Artists International Recital Management. She has performed in several Bermuda Festival productions and gave a debut performance at Carnegie Hall, New York City. Prior to joining the BSM faculty, guest soloist Mr. France had extensive teaching experience in his native US, as well as performing with many symphony orchestras. He also appeared as a soloist in many major European cities as well as in the Caribbean. His most recent claim to fame was playing the violin on hip hop artist Golden’s recently-released CD, ‘Peddling Medicine’. Tickets (adults $40, seniors and children $25) for ‘An Evening of Opera Arias and Classics’ are available at the Music Box and the Bermuda School of Music.

May 26. The closure of one of the lanes of Longbird Bridge caused "chaos" at the Airport on Thursday. A portion of the Causeway, Longbird Bridge, has been closed to marine traffic since early May and closed to two lane traffic and heavy trucks since Wednesday. And the Ministry of Works and Engineering and HSBC Bank of Bermuda have been in talks to fund a feasibility report on repairing the causeway — though the Government received $11 million in 2002 from the US to replace Longbird Bridge as part of the Baselands deal. An employee at L.F. Wade International Airport said the surprise announcement on Wednesday evening that the bridge would only be open to one lane of traffic caused headaches for many. The man, who did not wish to be named, has worked at the Airport for years and said: "There were people lining up out on to the road side. Trying to get into the US customs area was impossible. I have never seen it this bad in all my time here. I believe flights were delayed because so many people were stuck on the wrong side of the bridge. It really caused a problem at first. When I got to work midmorning there were people everywhere but it seemed that we had it under control after lunch." New manager of the L.F. Wade International Airport, Aaron Adderley, was not available for comment yesterday. Ministry of Works and Engineering Permanent Secretary Derrick Binns confirmed that Ministry had “discussions with the Bank regarding funds for a feasibility study for the crossing across Castle Harbour”. Bank of Bermuda press officers were contacted but did not respond by press time. The bridge was built by US troops more than 50 years ago and was maintained by the US troops till the late 1990s. In August 2005 The Royal Gazette reported that the bridge would have been past its original predicated life but for a compressive rebuild done by the Ministry of Engineering in 2000 and 2001. The construction prolonged the bridge’s life by an estimated five or six years. However the bridge was hit hard by Hurricane Fabian on September 5, 2003 and its hydraulics and computers were damaged. In 2002 the Government was given $11 million as part of the Baselands deal signed in Washington D.C. In the deal, the US refused to pay to clean up the pollution of its two former bases, but did give the Island $11 million for the bridge, which has been plagued with mechanical problems. In 2003 then Works and Engineering Minister Alex Scott estimated it would cost from $15m to $30 million to replace the bridge. Dr. Binns added that he was not able to say when people would be able to use both lanes at the moment.

May 28. Buying real estate in Bermuda remains one of the best investments to be made on the Island despite the steep increase in property prices during the past seven years. That is the assessment of Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty, which the company backs up with an analysis of the property market since 1995. In the years from 1995 to 1999 the local property market remained fairly stable in terms of units sold, this was due to high interest rates that touched 9.5 percent and mortgage lenders requiring deposits of between 25 and 30 percent. "These two factors alone prevented many hopeful homeowners from removing themselves from the rental pool," said Susan Thompson, of Coldwell Banker. Things changed in 2000 when the North America housing boom, a growth in international business in Bermuda and falling interest rates all combined to boost demand within the Island's property market. The increase in house prices during the past decade is reflected in the movement of the "mean price" — lining up all property prices from cheapest to dearest in a line and then locating the median (middle) price. In 1998 the mean price was $345,000, in 2006 it had risen to $875,000. Over the same period the average property price rose from $590,000 to $1,147,000. Mrs Thompson said: "Real estate in Bermuda is still one of the best investment deals that you can make. It is consistent year after year and that is what these figures show. This is good news for property owners and new purchasers alike. Other good news is that more and more people in Bermuda are able to own their own property, contrary to what we may be bombarded with in the media. From 1999 to 2001 the number of units sold increased by 59 percent in Bermuda, which translates to a higher ownership rate. Following an initial dip in 2002, these rates have continued to climb incrementally year over year and are higher than historically recorded if you look at the entire period." Analysis by Coldwell Banker shows the luxury property market spiked in 1998 and 2005 with total sales topping $80 million in both years. The most recent figures from 2006 show that market fell back to $60 million last year. There is also evidence to the continuing strength of the condo market, which saw a boom starting in 2003 after a busy spell of land transactions heralded a spell of condo-building and a subsequent increase in the quantity of condos available. In her market analysis Mrs Thompson said: "Buyers often question whether the purchase of a leasehold property is a wise choice given the number of condominiums now available on the market. The number speak for themselves. There has been a steady increase in pricing of condos throughout our 10-year study with noted increase since 2000."

May 28. New regulations limiting the number of Bermudians selling condominiums to non-Bermudians have been discussed in the House of Assembly. Only a series of specified units will be eligible to be held or bought by non-Bermudians, according to the Bermuda Immigration and Protection (Designation of Eligible Condominium Units) Regulations 2007. Labour and Immigration Minister Derrick Burgess told the House the move was necessary because 37 percent of the Island's residential properties were owned by non-Bermudians. "That's a lot. I don't think anywhere in the world you would find that," said Mr. Burgess. Shadow Labour and Immigration Minister Trevor Moniz warned the move would lead to a devaluing of properties owned by Bermudians, and a rise in the value of condominiums owned by non-Bermudians. Regulations on the issuing of licenses over letting properties were also discussed under the Bermuda Immigration and Protection (Rental and Use) Regulations 2007. The new law states the Minister may not issue a permit to a non-Bermudian to rent out a unit unless the person who is to rent the land is Bermudian or is ordinarily resident on the Island. Non-Bermudians who own the unit jointly with their Bermudian spouse will be exempt from this rule — prompting an accusation from Opposition United Bermuda Party MP John Barritt that the legislation is discriminatory. Another regulation discussed was the Bermuda Immigration and Protection (Land Holding Charges) Regulations 2007, which states that non-Bermudian land-owners will have to pay fees of up to 22 percent the value of their land. Mr. Moniz said he did not object to the legislation because he understood such a policy already existed. Draft regulations on all three pieces of legislation were moved on Friday without any objection.

May 29. Doctors have attacked Government for snubbing world-renowned Johns Hopkins Medicine International’s bid to serve as management consultants to Bermuda Hospitals Board. Last night, Premier Ewart Brown again faced accusations of cronyism following the awarding of the $13.5 million five-year contract to Kurron Shares — a lesser known firm allegedly run by one of his friends. One prominent physician yesterday criticised Kurron’s 2004 report into Bermuda’s hospitals and suggested the group should not have been chosen for another key role in shaping the future of healthcare on the Island. On the overlooking of Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins — widely considered to be one of the leading medical institutes in the US — the medic told The Royal Gazette yesterday: “It doesn’t make any sense. They had the perfect opportunity to get one of the most renowned hospitals in the world on board. It’s a shame. If you have the opportunity to raise everything up for the benefit of the patients, it seems stupid to me to not do that. Johns Hopkins is universally recognized and you should want to work with them. It’s good common sense. It’s like having Oxford or Cambridge University being turned down in favour of a group from Wales or somewhere.” Three years ago, Kurron’s report highlighted a string of failings at BHB, including millions of wasted dollars, poor leadership and lapses threatening the safety of patients and staff. However, the doctor yesterday said the report suffered from a “lack of definable scientific methodology and principles, lack of clear evidenced-based conclusions and alarmist language with dubious conclusions”.  

May 29. Dame Lois Browne-Evans, the leader of the Progressive Labour Party for much of the 1970s and 1980s and Bermuda's first female Attorney General died early this morning of a suspected stroke. She was 79. A statement from the Cabinet Office said Dame Lois, who would have celebrated her 80th birthday on June 1, was rushed to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital last night. She passed away a short time later at 12:55 a.m. Dame Lois was Bermuda's first female barrister, Bermuda's first female Attorney General, and the first woman to become Opposition Leader in a British Commonwealth country when she became leader of the PLP in 1968. She served as leader until 1972 and again from 1976 to 1985. At a press conference at Cabinet Office this morning Premier Ewart Brown said: "Last night our nation lost a piece of its soul. Dame Lois taught so many of us what it means to fight and win. She was a sister of the struggle and at times the struggle was violent. But like Martin Luther King, Dame Lois did not wage the struggle with her fists, she did it with words. She always honored democracy and she always bowed to the law, even when Lady Justice seemed to betray her. She was champion for justice not just for blacks, but for all people." The Premier has requested all flags be lowered to half staff. Flags at all Government buildings have already been lowered in honour of Dame Lois. A condolence book was set to be available for signing at the Cabinet Office from lunchtime today. It will be available during normal business hours for members of the public to pay their respects. At the wishes of the family, Dame Lois' 80th planned birthday celebration on Friday has been cancelled and a state funeral is being planned.

May 30. Bermuda was united in mourning yesterday as word spread of the passing of legendary political leader and lawyer Dame Lois Browne Evans. Dame Lois, who would have turned 80 on Friday, was rushed to hospital late Monday by ambulance. She died at 12.55 a.m. yesterday of a suspected stroke. Flags across the island stood at half mast as the trailblazing dynamo was lauded by politicians from all sides. She was Bermuda’s first female barrister, Bermuda’s first female Attorney General, and the first woman to become Opposition Leader in a British Commonwealth. Dame Lois was also the first black woman to be elected an MP when she won the Devonshire North seat in 1963, a seat she held for 30 years during which time she led the Progressive Labour Party twice from 1968-1972 and then from 1976-1985. She stood down from office at the 2003 general election after helping mastermind the switch to single-MP seats — something which she had long championed. Fiery but fun-loving, Dame Lois commanded tremendous respect and yesterday tributes poured in from all sides of the political arena. Premier Ewart Brown said: “Last night our nation lost a piece of its soul. Dame Lois taught so many of us what it means to fight and win. “She was a sister of the struggle and at times the struggle was violent. But like Martin Luther King, Dame Lois did not wage the struggle with her fists, she did it with words. “She always honored democracy and she always bowed to the law — even when Lady Justice seemed to betray her.” He added: “She was a champion for justice — not just for blacks, but for all people.”  

May 30. More than half of those who died on Bermuda's roads last year tested positive for drink, drugs or both, Police revealed yesterday. Assistant Commissioner Carlton Adams said toxicology reports showed four of the 14 victims had drugs in their systems with four more having both alcohol and drugs present. According to the Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, the figures were similar in 2004 and 2005. The organisation has recently launched a free minibus service from Front Street in the early hours of each Saturday in a bid to cut the death toll. News of the fatal crash statistics came during a press briefing yesterday in which Mr. Adams outlined how crime, including violent crime, rose in the first three months of this year compared to the same period in 2006. Figures showed 673 offences in total recorded in the period January to March 2007, compared to 589 at the start of last year — an increase of 12 percent. The beginning-of-the-year figure for violent crime was also significantly up on the same period last year, with 55 recorded at that point in time compared to 72 this year. However, the violent crime figure did decrease in the first quarter of this year compared to the last three months of 2006, with the figures standing at 93 crimes and 72 crimes respectively. Mr. Adams attributed the drop in recent months to reductions in assaults causing grievous bodily harm and wounding. However, he also noted that robberies were up 16 percent at the start of this year compared to the end of last year, listing a number of knifepoint incidents in Pembroke and Southampton in early January, for which people have since been brought before the courts. Overall, Police have secured convictions in 40 percent of robbery cases this year, said Mr. Adams. Burglaries were up 12 percent at the start of this year - with 304 recorded so far in 2007 - compared with the end of last year. Mr. Adams blamed the increase on an upswing in residential burglaries, and explained that Police community action teams have been deployed to affected neighborhoods to work on both prevention and detection. He stressed that serial offenders were a major issue with this type of crime, stating that of 16 people arrested for burglary so far this year, half had previous convictions for this or other offences of dishonesty. He warned that the offence of handling stolen goods attracts a maximum 14-year sentence at Supreme Court — and also revealed how one hapless pair of criminals approached two off-duty cops recently, offering to sell them stolen goods. The culprits were apprehended when the officers realized what was going on.

May 30. The decision to revoke listed protection for an 18th century merchant house due to “no on-site parking” has come into question after it emerged the property was given planning permission for a driveway. Environment Minister Neletha Butterfield de-listed the ‘Queen of the East’ after the owner’s agent said the property could no longer attract tenants due to lack of parking space. However, the Planning Department approved a planning application for a driveway in January last year. The proposal, by the Shipside Trust, was for a sloping area on the east side of the house to provide enough space for two vehicles. The decision to de-list the ‘Queen of the East’, at 26 Crow Lane, comes during Heritage Month and has led some conservationists to call for Ms Butterfield’s resignation. Yesterday The Royal Gazette discovered that a neighboring building — ‘East Broadway Marine’ at 22 Crow Lane, was also de-listed by the Government, in July, 2003. The Grade Three 18th century house is the sister building to ‘Queen of the East’ — both were built by George Darrell, son of a Chief Justice of Bermuda. It was demolished to make way for ‘Windward Place’ — a five-storey office complex, following a planning application by the Paragon Trust in January, 2004. Another property in the same lane, the old Island Coffee building, was also razed to make way for the Renaissance Re offices. Situated in an area of prime real estate, conservationists fear the ‘Queen of the East’ will now face the bulldozer.  

May 30. A company that has played a significant part in arranging tourism events, conference events and excursions in Bermuda for the past 40 years has suspended all operations and issued a statement suggesting it will not return. With the peak tourist season just beginning, the company behind the Hawkins Island 'Don't Stop The Carnival' theme parties, tours and events and glass-bottom boat excursions on the 68ft Reef Explorer from Hamilton has pulled the plug on its operations. The BIC Group of Companies has even de-activated its web-site, which now exists only as a one-page site featuring the four-paragraph statement that the company had suspended all activities as of noon on Monday. The group comprises of Bermuda Island Cruises and Bermuda Incentives and Conventions and is headed by CEO Kyle Messick. The company was started by brothers Derek and Donald Morris. Derek Morris declined to comment yesterday. Premier and Tourism Minister Dr. Ewart Brown's press secretary Glenn Jones, said: "The Premier is aware of the BIC developments. We regret this group has departed from the tourism scene. However, we believe there are young Bermudians who will come to the stage and more than compensate for this absence."

May 31. ZBM TV news anchorman Gary Moreno has been linked with a possible move to the soon-to-air Government Information TV channel, and several of his colleagues are in the process of leaving Bermuda Broadcasting Company for higher paid jobs at the Government station. Bermuda Broadcasting Company chief Rick Richardson warned the arrival of the new Government channel is proving a drain on the Island's limited pool of broadcasting professionals and he was aware of a number of his staff being lured to the proposed Government channel. He was aware that Mr. Moreno, one of the Island's most instantly recognizable TV presenters, had spoken informally of taking a position with the soon-to-launch cable and satellite Government station, but as of yesterday was unaware of any resignation letter from the channel's leading news anchorman. Higher salaries on offer at the Government station, which is expected to go live in June, have been cited as the reason for a mini-exodus of staff at ZBM. Discounting the question mark over Mr. Moreno, Mr. Richardson said he was aware of three definite departures that appear directly linked to the new Government venture. The Bermuda Broadcasting Company managing director said his company would look to recruit talented youngsters returning to Bermuda from colleges and universities, as it has done in the past when faced with such recruiting challenges. Kenneth DeFontes, president of DeFontes Broadcasting Company which airs rival VSB TV news, said he was not aware of any of his staff leaving to join the Government station. He is waiting to see what impact the Government channel will have commercially on DeFontes Broadcasting. Asked when Government's open information TV channel will be go public, a Department of Communication spokeswoman replied: "We'll let you know when it is ready."

May 31. An equality group is urging people to write to Tucker’s Point Club officials urging them to take extra measures to protect historically significant graves located within the club’s property. Last week people taking part in the third Government-backed race summit visited Tucker’s Point and claimed the graves of former black residents were not being respected — claiming golf balls were landing on the site. Now the Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda (CURB) group has written to the general manager of the Tucker’s Point Club, which owns the golf course the cemetery is located on. Lynne Winfield, President of CURB, is also urging its members and supporters to do the same. Last week Tucker’s Point Club executive, Peter Parker, denied suggestions the graveyard was being desecrated and said care was taken to make sure it was treated with sensitivity and respect. CURB has submitted measures to the company that it claims would “restore honour” to the site — which still invokes racial resentment — some 80 years after Tucker’s Town’s black inhabitants were uprooted. Identifying and suitably marking the graves that exist outside the walled cemetery, plus some form of covering to prevent balls from landing there, a new entrance gate and public access, are among the suggestions.

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.”

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.”  

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."

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.  

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.”

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.  

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.  

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:

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.  

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)." 

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.”

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.

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.  

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.  

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.

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. 

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. 

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 ‘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. 

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.

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.  

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.  

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.  

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.  

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.  

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.”  

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.  

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.”   

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. 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. 

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.  

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.”  

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.  

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.  

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.  

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.  

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.  

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."  

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. 

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.  

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. “

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.  

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.”  

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.”  

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." 

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."

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.  

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.  

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.”  

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.  

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.

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.  

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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Authored, researched, compiled and website-managed by Keith A. Forbes. Last Updated: August 4, 2020
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