Updated April 18, 2011
Well folks, it looks like we can’t get a straight answer from Attorney Donna Symmonds or her client. Yup, Symmonds was in the mood to sue the heck out of poor old BFP until we started asking some very basic questions about whether her client had properly reported to the tax people.
Alright, we’ll put this article back into the list and that will be that.
Don’t know why it’s so difficult for some folks to just tell the truth straight up. It would be good if Bajans knew for certain whether the charges against the lawyer client were her carelessness or improper actions by government workers.
Updated April 15, 2011:
Bajans await a straight answer from Attorney Donna Symmonds or her client.
Weasel words from Attorney insider?
Attorney-at-law avoiding the truth?
Government tax authorities unfairly maligned by Attorney?
This story is gaining legs and certainly has the interest of our readers who want to know if the Attorney-at-Law “client” who is the subject of our story was unfairly charged by Barbados tax authorities or, as is looking ever more possible – was responsible for her own troubles.
At the center of the story is the question as to when “the client” who was charged with tax offenses (and who is an attorney at law herself) notified the Barbados tax authorities that she was no longer resident in Barbados.
If she properly notified the tax authorities years ago in writing and the government fouled up, then Bajans deserve to know about this unreasonable harassment by government officials.
But if the attorney at law “client” only notified the tax authorities after she was charged, and after ignoring years of tax demand letters, that means that the tax charges were fairly laid and that the attorney-at-law is hardly an innocent victim.
We’ve been trying to discover the truth, but so far all we get is silence and anonymous weasel words left as comments by an obvious insider.
The longer that Attorney at Law Donna Symmonds remains silent on this issue while screaming loudly about charges being dropped, the more it looks like the Attorney At Law “client” was charged due to her own negligence.
As we originally wrote to Attorney Donna Symmonds:
“Folks would like to know whether the fault is the government’s or your client’s and it would only be ethical to let the public know. That’s only fair to the government workers.
I mean, if it’s not the government’s fault, you wouldn’t want the public thinking it was, would you?”
Bajans await a straight answer from Attorney Donna Symmonds or her client.
Our original article published April 14, 2011…
“Our apology appears a little later in this article.”
Attorney says Client’s Charges Dropped! The Nation failed to report that all charges were dropped.
Why did Barbados lawyer Donna Symmonds publish a public letter on the internet instead of sending a private email?
Dear Attorney Donna Symmonds,
We just noticed today that you posted a letter to BFP as a public comment on April 11, 2011 on our story New Barbados Tourism Authority Director charged with tax evasion? (Your public comment is repeated at the end of this article.)
With two million visitors a year, over 100,000 comments recorded on our blog and another 900,000 spam comments in the filters, you can understand that sometimes a comment or two slips by unnoticed and that’s what happen with yours. But today we saw a story over at Barbados Underground that alerted us to your public comment here at BFP. Life can be strange at times, fuh shur!
We at Barbados Free Press try to accommodate folks when we receive polite or frantic or desperate requests to take down stories or correct inaccuracies. Sometimes people have second thoughts about what they sent us for publication or what they put in their public comments and they beg us to take them down and we mostly do. Sometimes we receive private emails from lawyers telling us that their clients have been unfaired and politely asking us to remove or change articles.
We try to be fair. We also try to remember that we’re here for a purpose and that purpose is to bring that truth to Bajans and to make our forum available so that folks can discuss politics, corruption, two-tiered justice and other risky subjects without worrying about some of the things that can happen in Barbados when they criticize elites like politicians. Or lawyers.
Donna, you and everyone else see how the Bajan press always gets threatened and pushed around by politicians and other elites to remove news stories and change the truth and to change history.
I know it may come as a surprise to you Donna, but these elites usually hire lawyers to write nasty threatening letters to the Managing Editor in the hope of intimidating the newspaper to drop the story.
Matter ‘a fact: some lawyers write nasty threatening letters right away and never even bother with polite requests or to have manners. They just threaten to destroy everything in their path and bludgeon the press into submission whether they are right or wrong.
And here in Barbados that usually works.
But you’ve chosen to write us openly on the internet in a public process and we at BFP appreciate your transparency and integrity, even if we don’t understand your approach and why you wanted to make this public instead of handling it privately for the sake of your client. Hey, that’s your decision and we respect that.
Now Donna, we’re having a little trouble with your demand for a public apology because we don’t see that we’ve done anything wrong or intentionally or even unintentionally harmed you or your client in any manner. But, we’re open to a discussion and we get to that apology a little later in this article.
Donna, we also don’t understand why you chose to post your letter as a public comment instead of sending it to us by private email or private comment just like it says up at the top of our blog at the “Contact” link.
See it? Up there at the top between “Cartoons!” and “Open Discussion”? Contact?
“Contact: You can send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
… or you can use the following form and it will send the email for you. The contact form is as private as email can be and will NOT publish your communication on the blog.”
But seeing as how you published your client’s name in public and you want to discuss this in public, okay we will. And just like it says in your letter, you want this “displayed with equal prominence” so we’ll put it right up at the top of the page and leave it there until you’re happy. Just tell us when you want it dropped back into the normal story list, okay? We’ll let the story stay at the top for a couple a weeks if you like as long as some big breaking story doesn’t come along. We’re happy to cooperate where we can without compromising our mission and integrity.
The first thing is that although your letter says “By Email”, we didn’t receive any email from you, and your letter doesn’t have our email address in it so I guess you must have forgot to email it. That’s okay, but we wanted to point that out.
Now Donna, you must know by reading our original article that the parts you’re complaining about are a re-print of an article at The Nation. We even gave a link to the story and that story is still online here right now with your client’s name in the list of charged persons. (April 14, 2011 4:57am Grape Hall, Barbados)
I mean, if ya can’t believe The Nation, well, who can ya believe on this rock? So your problem is with The Nation’s reporting and not us commenting on their story. We never even mentioned your client’s name. That was The Nation that did that. And you too, of course in your public comment.
But the great thing about the blogs and the internet is that you and your client now have the opportunity to have the public made well aware of the fact that you say all the charges were dropped against your client because she wasn’t in the country.
See? In the old days, The Nation would print the inaccurate story like they did, and then the paper might print some small retraction that few folks would see, if they did print a retraction at all that is.
But now you and your client can be assured that many folks will read this like you wanted and those folks will know that you say all the charges were dropped. You probably should get The Nation to issue a clarification though and take down or modify their article to say what you say about The Nation’s story…
“This report failed to detail that all of the charges against Mrs Haynes were discontinued unconditionally since she had proven to the Department of Inland Revenue prior to 1st April 2011 that she had not been resident nor had she carried on a business in Barbados during the income years for which the said charges related.”
As to us apologizing, well, we’ve talked about that and had a couple a dark rum chasers after a few Banks beers. Before he passed out Cliverton agreed that we should issue an apology so here goes:
Dear Attorney Donna Symmonds and Client:
You’ve written to Barbados Free Press by publishing your letter openly on the internet and demanded an apology from BFP. After much consideration, we sincerely apologize to Attorney Symmonds, her client and our readers for believing the story that The Nation published.
Donna, you are correct that we shouldn’t have trusted The Nation to publish an accurate report of anything happening in the courts of Barbados.
We apologize for believing the reporting in The Nation and we’ll probably never believe anything they print again.
Now Donna, as to your client being “indemnified in respect of damages and costs incurred in this matter” like you say in your letter below – don’t you worry nothin’ about the costs because we don’t intend to charge you or your client for this public service of publicizing that all the charges were dropped against your client and that The Nation article was wrong.
So don’t worry about it, we won’t be sending you any invoice for our services.
Now, that settles that, but we do have some questions for you and your client because of the newsworthiness of her story and the fact that your client is an attorney at law herself.
So here are the questions, and we hope that you or your client will answer them for our readers because her situation is news…
Questions for Attorney Donna Symmonds and Client:
Our readers are curious: Was this a situation where your client was charged with failing to file personal or company income tax, or both?
If it was a personal income situation, how long ago had your client previously notified Barbados that she was no longer a resident? Is this a situation where your client was an innocent victim of government ineptitude and irresponsibility?
Or, did your attorney at law client move away and then fail to file income tax for a number of years and fail to respond to annual letters from the Government until she was charged?
Now, if the situation concerns a business, did your client officially dissolve the business or properly notify the government that the company was dormant for a number of years? How many years ago did your client notify the government? Was this another case of government ineptitude where your client did everything correctly and she was charged anyway?
Or was it one of those situations where your client left the country but didn’t bother to properly wind up a business officially and let the government know – in which case the government can hardly be blamed for charging her?
I mean, your client is an attorney at law herself. It’s not like she wouldn’t know the law, right?
What was the cause of the charges against your client, Ms. Symmonds? Was it her carelessness in performing the duties that she should have, or did she do everything correctly and it’s the government’s fault?
Bajans want to know if there is a problem with our government workers… and that’s NEWS.
Or, maybe, did your client ignore her duties, got charged fair and square but the prosecutor gave her a break?
Folks would like to know whether the fault is the government’s or your client’s and it would only be ethical to let the public know. That’s only fair to the government workers.
I mean, if it’s not the government’s fault, you wouldn’t want the public thinking it was, would you?
Thank you for your consideration,
Barbados Free Press
Marcus, Robert, Shona, Auntie Moses, George (and Cliverton passed out on the floor.)
The following was posted on April 11, 2011 as a public comment on BFP’s article New Barbados Tourism Authority Director charged with tax evasion?
April 11, 2011 at 2:18 pm
Donna C. Symmonds LL.B. (Hons) Lond.
Equitas Chambers, Alexander House.
Pinfold Street, Bridgetown, BB 11127 Barbados, W.I.
Tel: (246) 429-9045 • Fax (246) 429-3355
Consultants: Algernon W. Symmonds, G.C.M, Q.C.
Leslie F Haynes, Q.C.
April 8, 2011
The Managing Editor
Barbados Free Press By Email
Re: Court Report carried in Barbados Free Press on 2nd April 2011
I act on behalf of Mrs Denise Haynes in the above-captioned matter.
I am instructed by my client who complains about a story reported in Barbados Free Press on the 2nd day of April 2011 regarding persons charged with failing to file income tax returns.
The report indicates inter alia the following:
“………………..while two of the matters against attorney Ona Harewood were discontinued after it was proven that she was studying overseas for two of the years for which she was charged.”
“Those who appeared had their matters adjourned; some will reappear on June 10; others on May 13 and one on May 6”
The report ended by listing the persons who appeared before the Court including my client, Mrs Denise Haynes, whom I represented in Court on the 1st day of April 2011 in the matter referred to in the above-mentioned newspaper report.
This report failed to detail that all of the charges against Mrs Haynes were discontinued unconditionally since she had proven to the Department of Inland Revenue prior to 1st April 2011 that she had not been resident nor had she carried on a business in Barbados during the income years for which the said charges related.
April 8, 2011
The Managing Editor
Barbados Free Press By Email
This said report is not a fair and accurate account of what transpired in Court on the 1st day of April 2011 with regard to my client and, as a result of the publication of the said report as aforesaid, my client has been held up in the public to ridicule and condemnation and her reputation as an Attorney-at-Law injured. My client regards this above- specified story as defamatory.
I ask, therefore, that you publish in Barbados Free Press by Thursday 14th April 2011 a full and complete withdrawal and apology( in terms approved by me and my client) and in a position similar to and with equal prominence as the story of which my client complains. In addition, my client must be indemnified in respect of damages and costs incurred in this matter.
Your urgent response is awaited.
(Not signed as sent electronically)
Donna C. Symmonds
c. Mrs Denise Haynes