Fearless Brown has the last word
“We don’t normally stay at the Motel 6, if you don’t mind“
— Ewart Brown, the outgoing premier jokes about the criticism he received after racking up a $320,000 bill on travel expenses in 2010
Ewart Brown was never likely to ride off quietly into the sunset when he stepped down as premier in November 2010.
With a long-running police investigation involving raids on his clinics, a major lawsuit in America, numerous fiery speeches, a controversial award of $1.2 million in taxpayer cash and the publication of a warts-and-all autobiography, the former premier was never far away from the headlines throughout the decade.
Police launched their inquiry into Dr Brown after businessman David Bolden made claims of corruption at a theft trial in 2011. Eight years later, the investigation was still going and had racked up a bill of more than $6 million.
The inquiry included a focus on Dr Brown’s clinics, Bermuda Healthcare Services in Paget and the Brown-Darrell Clinic in Smith’s, over allegations they ordered medically unnecessary tests for patients to boost profits.
In 2016, Dr Brown, who vigorously denied any wrongdoing, called a press conference at which he challenged police to either charge him with a criminal offence or end their pursuit.
He claimed that the recent arrest of Mahesh Reddy, the chief medical officer of Bermuda Healthcare Services, which was ultimately ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court, was “an extension of the witch-hunt that has followed me for years”.
Dr Brown said: “After many years of fruitless investigation, it is time for the prosecutors and the police to put up or shut up and let us get on with the vital business of helping people with their healthcare needs.”
In February 2017, the former premier was enraged again when officers from the Organised and Economic Crime Department descended on his clinics to seize boxes.
Detective Sergeant James Hoyte, of the Bermuda Police Service, cited reasonable grounds to suspect “corrupt practices and conspiracy to defraud”.
Dr Brown’s patients launched a legal battle complaining that their records had been taken without their permission.
The same month, One Bermuda Alliance Attorney-General Trevor Moniz filed a lawsuit at a Boston federal court against Lahey Health, alleging a conspiracy with Dr Brown to defraud the island of millions of dollars in healthcare charges.
The former premier, the suit claimed, was bribed to divert services from the island to the Massachusetts facility.
The case was thrown out a year later, when the United States District Court in Massachusetts ruled it could not be considered because Bermuda had suffered no loss in the United States, and the matter was dropped by the new Progressive Labour Party government.
Dr Brown accused Mr Moniz of “frittering away $4 million of the people’s money” on the case and of causing damage to Lahey Clinic.
Late in 2019, Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police, vowed that the inquiry into Dr Brown would continue “thoroughly and expeditiously, in consultation with the [Department] of Public Prosecutions team”.
The former premier was also in the news after the PLP returned to power in 2017 and decided he would receive more than $1.2 million from the public purse for financial losses suffered at his two medical clinics.
Health minister Kim Wilson said Dr Brown had suffered “economic sanctions” at the hands of the OBA when it slashed fees for diagnostic imaging scans.
Ms Wilson and David Burt, the Premier, claimed the OBA had ignored the advice of the Bermuda Health Council over a reduction in fees for medical scans.
Former OBA health minister Jeanne Atherden argued: “What is being said with respect to us having a vendetta and not listening to technical advice is not true. It’s a lie and I put them to proof.”
Even though he no longer had a seat in the House of Assembly, Dr Brown remained politically active throughout the decade.
At the Bermuda Industrial Union’s Labour Day banquet in 2014, he called on workers to “wake up and see our country is being taken away from working people”.
Dr Brown rallied the room: “We must return the government to the PLP. I’m calling for an organised effort to take back the government — right now, right here.
“We can’t afford to wait three more years for an election — there will nothing left for our people by then.”
The OBA faced a series of demonstrations against its policies over the next three years, before voters returned the PLP to power in 2017.
The former premier ended the decade with a characteristic bang, as he released his book, Whom Shall I Fear?, in which he aimed to set the record straight about “a plethora of falsehoods about me” and made scathing observations about party colleagues, including former premiers Dame Jennifer Smith and Paula Cox.
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