PLP criticises Governor over police investigation of MP’s betting shop
The Progressive Labour Party has accused Governor George Fergusson of acting “in an irresponsible manner” after police launched an investigation into a betting shop owned by PLP leader Marc Bean.
And it has suggested that the probe into illegal gambling practices at Paradise Games was part of a political plot hatched by the Government to discredit Mr Bean.
It is understood that detectives visited the Court Street shop last Friday following reports that the shop was allegedly selling tickets for an overseas lottery. The Royal Gazette ran a story on Wednesday after conducting its own investigation into the business.
In a statement yesterday, the PLP claimed that police were tipped off through two Government Ministers, and implied that both the Department of Public Prosecutions and The Royal Gazette were also given inside information about the police inquiry.
And it also slammed Governor George Fergusson — who has overall responsibility for the police — for allowing the force to be used as “a political weapon” and for “refusing to address these dictator style tactics”.
“The recent action taken by the Bermuda Police Service and the DPP in relation to Paradise Gaming [sic] have created a politically untenable situation that raises questions about political interference and abuse of power,” the statement read.
“We understand that 'community intelligence' led to the police attending the PLP leader's new business last week. We further understand that this so-called 'community intelligence' originated from two senior OBA Cabinet Ministers known to have direct access to the DPP and police, with it being disseminated to The Royal Gazette and acted upon by the DPP.”
The statement questioned why no other betting shop was “targeted” in the investigation — although according to police, detectives made inquiries “at a number of betting shops in relation to the sale of overseas lottery tickets”.
And the statement also claimed that Acting Commissioner of Police Mike Jackman only learned of the probe after an officer had called on Mr Bean's business.
“Actions initiated by the DPP, without the knowledge of the Acting Police Commissioner, executed based on an incompetent legal analysis, targeted at the business of the Opposition leader, are reminiscent of another incident recently where a PLP MP was unsuccessfully targeted for prosecution by the DPP,” the statement went on.
“This smacks of political interference and persecution of the leader of a party that has been effective in doing its job, that of being the Official Opposition by holding the OBA Government to higher standards of accountability, transparency, and good governance. The OBA know no boundaries in their attempt to attack and discredit.
“The Governor who holds primary responsibility for the Bermuda Police Service has acted in an irresponsible manner by allowing those under his command and authority to be potentially used as a political weapon with no consequence, refusing to address these dictator-style tactics.”
Last night Paradise Games issued a statement claiming it had “suffered severe financial and reputational damage both locally and abroad” as a result of The Gazette's story.
It said that it would be filing a civil action for damages and losses “based on the negative effects and damage caused to our group's global expansion strategy”, although no writ was received by this newspaper by Press time last night.
Government House did not respond to requests from this newspaper for comment.