Senator Brown settles court action, charity speaks of loss

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Government Senator Walton Brown has settled a long-running financial dispute with a former employee but been accused of harming an educational charity by taking so long to pay her.

Jay Kempe, deputy chairman of Bermuda Sloop Foundation, claimed yesterday that Christen Pears and her husband Chris Blake decided to leave the Island in part because she was owed more than $10,000 in unpaid wages, health bills and other expenses by Sen. Brown's MediaCom company.

Mr. Blake was the popular captain of the Spirit of Bermuda — the Foundation's youth training vessel — and Mr. Kempe said his departure came as a heavy blow.


Government Senator Walton Brown has settled a long-running financial dispute with a former employee but been accused of harming an educational charity by taking so long to pay her.

Jay Kempe, deputy chairman of Bermuda Sloop Foundation, claimed yesterday that Christen Pears and her husband Chris Blake decided to leave the Island in part because she was owed more than $10,000 in unpaid wages, health bills and other expenses by Sen. Brown's MediaCom company.

Mr. Blake was the popular captain of the Spirit of Bermuda — the Foundation's youth training vessel — and Mr. Kempe said his departure came as a heavy blow.

"It really is a sad day when a charity that's involved in education loses a captain as good as Chris Blake because of the failure of a senator, who is chairman of Bermuda College and Junior Education Minister, to pay a debt," he told The Royal Gazette.

"I think it's sad that we lost a very good captain as a result of Mr. Brown's failure to meet his commitments. Our Foundation suffered from it and the youth of Bermuda suffered from it."

Sen. Brown told this newspaper last night: "I'm not going to comment on people who deliberately misrepresent the facts.

"I said all along that this was a private matter, which I was not going to engage in public discussion on. When people decide to misrepresent the facts, one has to question their motives."

Mr. Kempe appeared on behalf of Ms Pears in Magistrates' Court yesterday, when he told Acting Magistrate Graveney Bannister that Ms Pears had now been paid and was content with the amount.

Mr. Bannister said he was satisfied that the civil matter could be withdrawn.

Ms Pears, former managing editor of Sen. Brown's Bermuda Network News (BNN), sued MediaCom in 2008 for $10,500 and won a default judgment against the company.

She said Sen. Brown regularly failed to pay her on time and did not register her with the Department of Social Insurance or arrange health cover.

Retired lawyer Mr. Kempe, one of the founders of the Sloop Foundation, told this newspaper yesterday that Sen. Brown failed to honour an out-of-court settlement to pay $6,000 to Ms Pears.

"After threats of further legal action, [he] made the final payment on September 7, 2010," he said. "After almost three years of chasing, Ms Pears was prepared to draw a line in the sand, accept $6,000 and move on."

Ms Pears and Mr. Blake, who now live in Australia, could not be reached for comment by press time last night.

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