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PLP hyperbole makes me laugh

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At loggerheads: Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, and Bermuda Public Service Union president Jason Hayward

Dear Sir,

I had to smile at the bombastic language and hyperbole issued by the PLP concerning the court case between Mr Bob Richards and Mr Jason Hayward.

In their press statements and opinion pieces they called the defamation case an attack on free speech and a throwback to the bad old days of persecution.

Firstly, The People’s Campaign, the PLP are absolutely right that the inalienable right to freedom of expression is enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, Article 19 also states that there are limits to free speech, with those being constraints on freedom of speech that impugns an individual’s reputation and integrity (especially with not one shred of evidence!). Anyway, the aforementioned PLP claims against the OBA are quite amusing given the fact all of the below occurred against the basic human right of free speech by the PLP during their reign:

• have the then Auditor-General arrested on bogus charges due to the revelations of the BHC scandal police report;

• then relocate the Auditor-General’s office to a different office with much less space and no proper working phone/internet connection in retaliation against his revelations while the Auditor-General is off Island;

• had the BHB fire a doctor who had the audacity to speak out against the closure of the indigent clinic;

• revoke the work permit of a Canadian contractor who had the gall to speak against the ruling party, with the then Minister of Immigration saying she deserved it because she spoke out against her employer (where were the Unions then?); with this deemed as being unlawful by local courts

• fought a member of the free press all the way to the Privy Council to suppress the BHC scandal report

• threatened to institute a Government controlled media council to essentially control what information could be published by Bermuda’s free press

• withdrew advertising as punishment for this newspaper for not toeing the line

• celebrated, with the then Premier arrogantly proclaiming “one down and one to go”, concerning the closure of this paper’s sister publication, the Mid-Ocean News

• the then Minister of Immigration who stated that expats should shut up and have no right to comment or get involved in local politics (except, of course, if you are a Reverend who supports the PLP and rants about white people at private funerals).

Where were the PLP and Union free speech advocates during these examples and the various others not included above?

In the end there are limits to free speech, as most recently experienced by Mr Marc Bean when court ruled against him in his defamatory social media post about Mr Michael Dunkley.

I would like to end this letter by including an excerpt from an April 1, 2007 Letter to the Editor, to this newspaper, by Mrs LaVerne Furbert regarding the aforementioned PLP sacking of a doctor for speaking out against the closure of the hospital clinic:

“The Bermuda Hospitals Board had every right to ask Dr Wakely to hand in her resignation. Dr Wakely was biting the hand that fed her because the clinic is funded by the Bermuda Government, not private enterprise.

“Dr Wakely practised her democratic right of free speech and as MP Derrick Burgess stated, freedom of speech has its consequences.”

Amazing, huh?

Just The Facts

Minister of Finance Bob Richards