Brown asks Governor to investigate police

  • Scan centre: Ewart Brown at the Brown-Darrell Clinic (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Scan centre: Ewart Brown at the Brown-Darrell Clinic (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Lawyers for Ewart Brown, a doctor and former premier, have called for an investigation after they alleged police used sensitive patient information to pressure a potential witness as part of an inquiry into his medical practices.

They wrote to John Rankin, the Governor, and Larry Mussenden, the Director of Public Prosecutions, to ask each of them to instruct an inquiry by the Police Complaints Authority.

The doctor’s legal team also sought an overall review of the police investigation.

The Bermuda Police Service said it “strongly disagreed” with the claims.

Dr Brown’s medical businesses, Bermuda Healthcare Services in Paget and the Brown-Darrell Clinic in Smith’s, are under investigation over allegations they ordered unnecessary tests for patients to boost profits.

Dr Brown has denied the allegations and he has not been charged with any offence.

Letters sent to Mr Rankin and Mr Mussenden, dated January 21, were given to The Royal Gazette on Tuesday and came nearly two years after police raided the clinics and seized medical records.

The letter to the Governor was signed by Jerome Lynch QC, of Trott and Duncan, and New York law firm Debevoise and Plimpton.

The lawyers expressed “grave concern at the use of sensitive patient information” by the Bermuda Police Service “in order to put pressure on a potential witness”.

They claimed to have “direct evidence” that a patient was approached without notice at their workplace by the BPS, who it was alleged “used references to the patient’s seized medical file in order to elicit information”.

The lawyers said a judicial review was pending into the lawfulness of the raids in February 2017.

They quoted Supreme Court orders made by Mr Justice Hellman in the wake of the files being taken that prohibited the BPS or its agents from reviewing or using any seized material.

The lawyers said Mr Rankin was “ultimately responsible for the BPS”.

They added: “We therefore request that you direct an expeditious inquiry of this incident by the Police Complaints Authority for violation of the BPS Code of Conduct.”

The letter to the Governor claimed the police investigation was not in the interests of patients or the public.

Mr Rankin was urged to “instruct a review of the investigation into clinics run by Dr Brown, taking into account the time and resources consumed”.

Mr Mussenden was also asked to request a PCA inquiry. The lawyers said it would be his job to “advise on the prospects of any possible charges arising out of the BPS’ investigation”.

The legal team told Mr Mussenden: “We consider that it is your duty now to review the investigation as a whole ... and that it should be discontinued forthwith.”

Police launched investigations in 2011 after allegations of corruption against Dr Brown, who was the Premier in a Progressive Labour Party government from 2006 to 2010, were made under oath in the Supreme Court by financier David Bolden.

An inquiry team was set up after the scope of the work was established and started operations in February 2013.

Mahesh Reddy, the medical director of Bermuda Healthcare Services, was arrested in May 2016, but was never charged with any offence.

A Supreme Court judge later ruled the arrest and a search of Dr Reddy’s home were unlawful. The police investigation had cost more than $2.2 million by July 2016.

The lawyers claimed in the letters last week that the inquiries were “displacement” for a BPS failure to “incriminate Dr Brown for his actions in Government”.

A police spokesman dismissed the allegations. He said: “The Bermuda Police Service strongly disagree with the sentiments expressed.”

But he added “it would not be prudent” to comment further as the Ewart Brown investigation continued.

The spokesman said: “The BPS has been very clear over the years and our position has not changed.

“We are conducting a thorough investigation and as such we will not be speaking further on the matter until the investigation has come to a conclusion.

“We are aware of the public interest. However, we will stay committed and focused on the investigation.”

A Government House spokeswoman confirmed a letter was received from Trott and Duncan, and that the Governor would reply.

She added: “Government House would also note that the Police Complaints Authority is an independent body established by the Police Complaints Authority 1998 and that it is open to individuals to make complaints to the authority in accordance with the provisions of the Act.”

The DPP did not respond to a request for comment.

Jeffrey Elkinson, the chairman of the PCA, could not be contacted and Dr Brown declined to speak to The Royal Gazette.

On occasion The Royal Gazette may decide to not allow comments on what we consider to be a controversial or contentious story. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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