MPs clash over 17-year-old drugs case

  • No fiction: Derrick Burgess (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

    No fiction: Derrick Burgess (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

  • It’s nonsense: Michael Dunkley

    It’s nonsense: Michael Dunkley

A war of words broke out between MPs over a police probe into a dairy container that carried drugs.

Derrick Burgess, the Deputy Speaker and a Progressive Labour Party member, claimed on Friday that white privilege stopped Michael Dunkley, a One Bermuda Alliance backbencher, from being investigated in the case.

Mr Dunkley, the president of Dunkley’s Dairy, called for the retraction of comments that he believed were made in an attempt to “impugn” his character.

The row came during the motion to adjourn after the OBA member sought further information about a dinner party held at Blu Bar and Grill Restaurant that cost former ministers Wayne Caines and Zane DeSilva their Cabinet posts.

Mr Burgess said of Mr Dunkley: “He always wants facts and answers from us, but he gives no answers or facts about his case when they found drugs in his container.”

He added: “The reason why he asks for facts from us; that’s white privilege.”

Mr Burgess said that Mr Caines and Mr DeSilva were “two of the hardest-working ministers” he had seen in his career as an MP. Mr Dunkley broke in and called for a point of order. He said: “The Honourable Member, week in and week out, misleads the House with his rubbish.

“If there’s any cases that the police investigate that’s up to the police. If the Honourable Member has any information on any wrongdoing by any Member of the House, including me, put the facts on the table, don’t make up fiction.”

Mr Burgess told MPs: “That’s no fiction, I’ve been given a report from the chief investigating officer.

“Michael Dunkley, you were not investigated because of your white privilege.”

Mr Dunkley responded that was “total nonsense”.

He asked for the comment to be withdrawn and added that Mr Burgess was “out of line”.

Dennis Lister, the Speaker of the House, told the Deputy Speaker that personal comments about Mr Dunkley “may need to be withdrawn”.

Mr Burgess replied: “What was the personal piece? I made no accusations on him, I said there was drugs in his container ... that’s public knowledge.”

Mr Dunkley challenged the remark and Mr Burgess added that the container was a Dunkley’s container. Mr Dunkley agreed. The OBA member added: “Individuals went to court and they were incarcerated.”

He told the Speaker: “If you will not hold this man to account, this House is in disrepute.”

Mr Lister said that some of the comments made were public knowledge. But he could not say if there was information in the public domain to indicate whether or not Mr Dunkley was investigated.

Mr Lister asked the Deputy Speaker about how he could support his comment.

Mr Burgess told him: “I can table the papers next week in Parliament if you want me to, Mr Speaker, the report.”

Mr Dunkley told the House that he would like to see the papers tabled. He added: “I had nothing to do with that.”

Mr Dunkley claimed that for an MP to try to impugn somebody’s character in the House was “as low as you can get”.

He added: “It’s despicable and I will not tolerate anybody impugning my character because, while I’m not perfect, I would never, ever import scourge into our island.”

Mr Lister asked Mr Burgess to table the report this week.

He added: “Once it’s tabled we can speak from it being tabled ... and in the meantime withdraw and hold until we have it tabled.”

Mr Burgess replied that he made no accusations “to withdraw anything”.

Mr Lister asked both MPs to “move on from this point until the evidence can be produced, if the evidence can’t be produced he won’t be able to speak to it”.

Mr Dunkley insisted the comments should be retracted.

He said: “So you can allow somebody ... on a virtual floor of the House of Assembly to make something up without any background to it and then bring them to you next week, Mr Speaker, totally unacceptable.”

Mr Lister told the House: “Once I have eyes of the document I will then have to make a judgment as to whether or not the document supports continuation down that road or whether again the matter is not dealt with, and the comments withdrawn.”

Two former Dunkley’s Dairy employees were sentenced to ten years in jail in 2005 after they were convicted of conspiracy to import close to $3 million in cannabis in a Dunkley’s Dairy container in October 2003.

On occasion The Royal Gazette may decide to not allow comments on a story that we deem might inflame sensitivities. 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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