Bean found to have no case to answer
The trial of Marc Bean over comments made at a polling station ended yesterday with the court finding that the Opposition Leader had no case to answer.
While former One Bermuda Alliance senator Toni Daniels had alleged that Mr Bean had called her a “political whore” in the November 6 incident, defence lawyer Charles Richardson argued that in context, the words did not amount to offensive or insulting words under the law.
After submissions by both Mr Richardson and prosecutor Cindy Clarke, magistrate Archibald Warner ruled that Mr Bean had no case to answer and dismissed the matter. Speaking on behalf of Mr Bean after the decision, Mr Richardson said the information should never have come before the courts, describing the charges as politically motivated and a waste of taxpayer funds.
“I think the charges should have never, ever been brought because of the simple fact that, even as the Opposition Leader, Mr Bean has the right to express his views to everyone, especially a rival politician who personally attacks the politicians in his party,” Mr Richardson said.
“That's all it was. It was spirited political exchange. This prosecution was in my mind clearly brought out of political motives. Somebody wanted to damage Marc Bean and the PLP but it didn't work. We knew from the outset that it would be thrown out. I went through some similar things, I said some things about a police inspector, and I knew what the court's constitutional position would be. Do you know how much money we just wasted upstairs pursuing this out of political motives?”
During the trial, which started last Friday, Ms Daniels told the court that Mr Bean had repeatedly shouted that she was a “f***ing political whore” outside the Somers Lodge, where advanced polling for a by-election was taking place.
She further claimed that he had said he would pay “ten cents a lick” and pass her around to others.
Meanwhile, OBA MP Nandi Outerbridge, who was also present at the polling station, testified that she heard Mr Bean refer to her and Ms Daniels as “those political whores”, but said she did not recall him using profanity or repeating the comment.
Both Mrs Outerbridge and Ms Daniels said they were offended by his words, with Ms Daniels saying that she responded by calling Mr Bean “disgusting and inappropriate”.
While Mr Bean did not take the stand, his police statement was presented to the court as evidence. In the statement, he said that he told the women that they were behaving in a manner “akin to political whoredom” and had challenged Ms Daniels's relationship with Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy and Sean Collier.
At the close of the Crown's case, Mr Richardson called for the court to find Mr Bean had no case to answer, arguing that even if the court found that the words alleged were spoken, they would not be offensive as they were comments “uttered by one politician to another on a political occasion at a location which could be deemed to be a political location for the day”.
He also noted the importance of freedom of expression saying that such prosecutions should only be pursued in “egregious cases” that disturb public order or public morality. Ms Clarke, meanwhile, argued that the comments were personal attacks with sexual undertones rather than political attacks and that the evidence had fit the requirements of the law.
Delivering his ruling, Mr Warner said: “Having heard counsel for the Crown and for the defence, having heard all the evidence tendered, having carefully considered all the evidence and having heard full submissions on the law and the evidence as it relates to the counts, I rule that there is no case for the defendant to answer.”
The ruling led to brief applause from a handful of supporters present.
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