Sandys 360: Burch drops Attorney-General in it
The decision to not release a report into a failed sports centre was based on advice from the Attorney-Gerneral’s Chambers, the public works minister told MPs.
Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch said: “I’m not making decisions of this nature on my own. The Attorney-General’s Chambers of this island are the ones who actually gave the advice not to release the report.”
Gitanjali Gutierrez, the Information Commissioner, ordered the Department of Public Lands and Buildings to release the report on Sandys 360 by professional services firm KPMG into the project to The Royal Gazette by July 8.
Colonel Burch told MPs last Friday that the Government disagreed with her decision and had advised her “that we will not release the KPMG report, as it was not commissioned by, nor is it the property of” the department.
Trevor Moniz, a One Bermuda Alliance backbencher, criticised Colonel Burch over the decision during last Friday’s motion to adjourn debate.
He accused Colonel Burch of a “scurrilous attack” on Ms Gutierrez and said that the public works minister got his “law entirely mixed up” and was not supposed to get involved with Pati requests.
Colonel Burch last night highlighted a comment made by Mr Moniz, the works minister when Sandys 360 was shuttered, that Mr Moniz was “familiar with the content of the report”.
He asked: “If the Honourable Member was aware of the contents of the report ... why didn’t he release it?”
Colonel Burch said that he had not seen nor read the report. He added: “A report that was not commissioned or paid for by the Government of Bermuda, in my mind, doesn’t give us the authority to release it to anyone.”
Taxpayers funded Sandys 360 to the tune of at least $5.3 million before it closed its doors because of financial problems in November 2013.
Michael Scott, a Progressive Labour Party backbencher, said that he was concerned about “weaponising information” obtained through Pati laws.
He added: “This is a deepening and frequent methodology being deployed across all media in the world, and we’re not exempt from it.
“And my major concern has been the misuse of information.”
The Royal Gazette has also requested information through Pati that deals with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, the government body set up to compensate victims of crime.
Mr Scott, who sits on the CICB, said that Pati “must not be used to inquire into sensitive information, that is concerned with the kinds of cases we deal with, in a legal context, about persons making applications for compensation”.
He added that he and Puisne Judge Nicole Stoneham, the chairwoman of the CICB, “were not going to get caught up in bait on the part of the media for the release of all manner of inappropriate information related to CICB”.
The Pati request from The Royal Gazette asked for the annual reports for the CICB for the years 2010 through 2018, and the annual notices listing the board members of the CICB for the same period.
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