Daily Archives: April 16, 2013

Queen’s Counsel apologizes to High Court Justice, but…

Justice Delayed Barbados

The unnamed lawyer in our original story has been named as Alair Shepherd, Queen’s Counsel. Mr. Shepherd has apologized to High Court Justice Dr Sonia Richards, but the full story in the Nation tells the all-too-familiar tale of a broken court system where the focus is on process, not on results or justice.

Mr. Shepherd should not have done what he did, but in a court system where civil cases often take 15 or 20 years to reach trial we can expect to see the rivets starting to pop as the pressure builds on the boiler call the Barbados Courts. (By the way, why is Chief Justice Gibson in South Africa? Shouldn’t he be staying at home and trying to clean up this mess?)

Here’s the article from the Nation. Please read it at their website here, but unfortunately we have to print it all here because if we don’t, they will change the story as it suits the changing politics.

Sorry!

Queen’s Counsel Alair Shepherd – the man at the centre of the outburst involving High Court Justice Dr Sonia Richards last week – has confirmed that he apologized to her, but said the incident was a result of his frustration over the administration of justice.

In an interview with the DAILY NATION yesterday, Shepherd said his behaviour before the judge should not detract from the real issue, which was the continuing delay of an extremely important case touching on the ability of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) to discharge its duties.

Last Monday, Shepherd had an outburst before the judge. He then backed Justice Richards, raised his robe and bent over. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Ethics

Harlequin and Almond disasters show we’re great at spin, excuses and damage control – but not so great at preventing the damage

Almond Resorts

Almond Beach Village a study in how government loses credibility

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner - now selling!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner – now selling!

I would like this week to stay on the subject of transparency and communication in the tourism industry and the underlying speculation, misunderstanding and consequential harm that can result by not ensuring these virtues are carried out successfully.

In both major printed newspapers last Sunday was the announcement of an auction, set to take place the following Saturday of many ‘goods and chattels’ of the Almond Beach Village which closed its doors, just two weeks short of a year ago. Yet in another arm of the media just a few weeks ago, under the banner headline ‘Buying back’ we were told that of the four options on the table, ‘Prime Minister Freundel Stuart will sit with his Cabinet to agree to buy back Almond Beach Village and its brand for almost $110 million’.

The article went on, ‘The plan, being piloted by Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, calls for a US$10 million refurbishment project, after which the sprawling 400-room facility will be turned over to former staff, who have submitted a plan to operate it’.

The purported logic behind choosing this fourth option was justified by the time the property could be out of service, citing the other three alternatives as ultimately taking too long to implement. Other verbatim quotes include ‘In view of the urgency of this need, it is now proposed that Government seek to immediately acquire Almond Beach Village’ and ‘with a view of reopening in an effort to supplement room stock for 2013 and beyond’.

In the scheme of things, perhaps during the little under three months since these statements were made, so much could have changed. But surely you would in the interests of all those it could effect, least of all the severed staff, explain to the public what is now going on?

The first question would be, that if you were seriously intent on re-opening the hotel in the shortest possible time, why would you be auctioning all or part of  the components that make it operational? Again, it is a classic example of lugubrious communication with not just the industry, but also the taxpayer who clearly would have to pay the bills if the Cabinet’s decision was invoked.

Harlequin Merricks Barbados 1

“Once again, it’s needless damage control when this scenario could have been entirely avoided.”

Harlequin saga known to government for years

And finally, I would like to finish this week on the subject of the Harlequin saga. At first I was going to describe it as the Harlequin debacle, but there has been nothing sudden about this whole sordid affair as the political administration have been aware of it for years.

Millions of Dollars of unpaid bills to contractors, suppliers, salaries  a quoted ‘$80,000’ alone to the NIS and we have not even been told if there are other uncollected obligations, like land tax or VAT. Add to this the loss of possible profits to the private sector, income tax and NIS contributions, corporation tax, compounded by payment of unemployment benefits as a result, exacerbates the situation.

This at a time when legitimate small businesses like ours are owed tens of thousands of dollars in outstanding VAT refunds for over two and a half years.

I really hope Government will learn something from this. It is long overdue that due diligence checks are a prerequisite to granting planning permission and ensuring legally, all ‘investor’ deposits are held in escrow pending an actual title sale.

Once again, it’s needless damage control when this scenario could have been entirely avoided.

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

55 Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship passengers robbed at gunpoint in St Lucia

Celebrity Eclipse crime

Broken leg for one woman as 3 robbers take all money and jewellery

It looks like the economy is tanking all over the Caribbean because the predators are on the prowl everywhere…

Cruise passengers robbed at gunpoint in St Lucia

Dozens of cruise passengers – including ten Britons – were robbed at gunpoint last week during an excursion on the Caribbean island of St Lucia.

Celebrity Cruises confirmed that 55 passengers and two crew members were visiting the Botanical Gardens in Soufriere on Friday when the incident occurred. The trip was one of there shore excursions in St Lucia offered to passengers making the two-week cruise holiday on board the vessel Celebrity Eclipse.

Tourism officials described the incident as “rare” and “unfortunate”, but said no-one was hurt. However, a member of the internet forum Cruise Critic currently on the same voyage claimed a woman had fallen and broken her leg during the robbery.

“We are on the Eclipse,” they wrote. “Yesterday we were ported in St. Lucia. One of the ship tours was robbed at gun point by three masked gunmen. We were not on the tour, but friends were. They said one woman fell and broke her leg; no one else was injured. All their money and jewellery were taken.”

… continue reading this article at the Telegraph UK

Also see Cruise Critic for more details from a passenger

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Crime & Law