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Cabinet was not informed of jet trip, claims Minister

Cabinet was not informed of the private jet trip to Washington DC to meet with an investment group,

The Royal Gazette has learned.

We asked four Cabinet Ministers whether they had known that Premier Craig Cannonier, Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell and Attorney General Mark Pettingill were jetting off to a meeting in Washington DC with an investment group in March.

“I was not aware,” said Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons.

Dr Gibbons would not entertain any more questions put to him about “jetgate” when

The Royal Gazette contacted him last night, saying Premier Craig Cannonier's “personal explanation” statement to the House of Assembly laid out the Government's position on the affair.

“I really don't think there is anymore to say about it,” Dr Gibbons said.

Community Development Minister Wayne Scott would not comment when asked if he knew about the private jet trip. “I have absolutely no comment about that,” he said.

We also contacted Finance Minister Bob Richards, but he too would not respond when asked if he knew about the trip.

“You speak to the Premier about that,” Mr Richards said.

Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley said: “I have nothing to say about that.”

The three Cabinet Ministers accepted an all expenses paid flight to Washington DC to attend the meeting at the request of what the Premier has only described as a “wealthy individual from Maryland”.

The trio stayed in the US capital for two nights even though the meeting lasted only five hours — all at the expense of the man from Maryland or his investment group.

No statement was made about the trip to the House of Assembly upon their return.

The scandal, which came to light when Bermuda Broadcasting Company broke the story last week, led to charges by the Opposition that the Ministerial Code of Conduct had been breached.

Under pressure from the Opposition Progressive Labour Party, Mr Cannonier gave a personal explanation to parliament on Friday.

“This gentleman stated that he had extensive experience in the gaming industry and wanted to share with the Government his views regarding gaming's potential to help revitalise our tourism industry and generate jobs for Bermudians,” he said.

“He wanted to have a dialogue concerning economic development in Bermuda and specifically asked to meet with me as the new Premier of Bermuda and also requested that the Minister of Tourism and the Attorney General attend this meeting. He said his team had a variety of questions they wanted to raise and discuss.”

Mr Cannonier added that he preferred a Government delegation come to Washington DC as it would be difficult for the group to come to Bermuda.

“I made it clear that, as this was his invitation, the cost of this meeting should be fully borne by him,” the Premier said.

During the debate that followed, Opposition Leader Marc Bean questioned why Dr Gibbons, as Economic Development Minister, had not attended the meeting.

Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons

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Published June 03, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated June 02, 2013 at 11:41 pm)

Cabinet was not informed of jet trip, claims Minister

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