Burt demands clarity on Parliament decision

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  • PLP on December 2

  • PLP Press Conference: from left, PLP deputy leader Walter Roban, Opposition leader David Burt and Shadow Attorney-General Michael Scott (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    PLP Press Conference: from left, PLP deputy leader Walter Roban, Opposition leader David Burt and Shadow Attorney-General Michael Scott (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Political interference has been implied in the fateful decision for Parliament to proceed after demonstrators blocked the gates leading to the House of Assembly on December 2.

Parliament had been cancelled at the behest of Randy Horton, the Speaker of the House, who later told police that the session was to start at 1pm, according to the peer review of police actions released this week.

David Burt, the Leader of the Opposition, said it was the first disclosure he had seen that Parliament had been initially called off.

Calling Mr Horton “incredibly stubborn”, Mr Burt said the reversal seemed out of character, and suggested that Michael Dunkley or others in the Government might have pressed for the session to go ahead.

At about 1.15pm, police moved in on protesters barricading the entrance to Sessions House, grappling with the crowd in an unsuccessful attempt to clear the way that ended with officers assaulted, and demonstrators pepper sprayed.

“Whoever made the call to insist that Parliament sit that day is responsible for what took place after,” Mr Burt said yesterday, telling the media that “in other jurisdictions, someone accepts responsibility and resigns”.

He largely dismissed the Peer report, which criticised the police’s tactics and level of preparation, as “whitewash, collusion and cover-up”, suggesting that the Government was avoiding an independent investigation of the day’s events to avert being implicated.

The Royal Gazette attempted to contact Mr Horton yesterday for clarification on the decisions made on December 2, but was unsuccessful.

Opponents of the Government’s airport redevelopment had been called out in protest against the launch of its debate in Parliament — a decision which Mr Burt said he stood by.

He criticised the report skirting the use of pepper spray on protesters as “insulting”, and called for Mr Dunkley to clarify his communications with police on December 2.

“The report has not gotten to the bottom of exactly what was communicated between the Premier, the Commissioner of Police, and the Speaker of the House,” Mr Burt said.

Last night, the Premier decried the comments made by Mr Burt as “misinformation and alternative facts”.

“Bermuda is best served by sticking to the facts, so let’s do that,” Mr Dunkley said in a release.

“For the record, I did not nor did any of my colleagues instruct the Bermuda Police Service at any time on police operations and tactics. The Police Commissioner confirmed as much by stating at the time that no order came from the Governor, or the Speaker, or the Premier.”

The Opposition leader, Mr Dunkley said, wanted to “raise doubts about the day” for political gains.

“He’s willing to cast responsibility for the events in every direction but his own,” the Premier said. “It’s gutter politics. Bermuda deserves better.”

To read the full PLP statement, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.

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Published Mar 31, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Mar 31, 2017 at 9:02 am)

Burt demands clarity on Parliament decision

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