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MacLean to sue over Hamilton waterfront deal

Back in the news: Michael MacLean (File photograph)

The Bermuda Government was threatened with fresh legal action yesterday over the discontinuation of a contract to redevelop Hamilton’s waterfront.

Michael MacLean, head of developers Allied Development Partners, said that he would bring a case on constitutional grounds against the Government after it refused to take part in settlement talks.

Mr MacLean said: “Allied Development Partners Ltd appreciates that the PLP government did not cause this debacle, however, they were elected to lead and address the issues they inherited.

“ADPL has made several attempts to resolve this matter swiftly and amicably to avoid further expense to the public purse with further litigation.

“ADPL has sent over six formal pieces of written correspondence to the Government of Bermuda — the Premier, the Attorney-General and the Minister of Home Affairs — in an attempt to arrange a meeting with the purpose of amicably resolving this matter.

“To date, there has been absolutely no response forthcoming regarding the matter despite the Premier and Minister of Home Affairs’ indication to the public that they ‘continue to move the issue forward’ ‘in a way that addresses the legitimate concerns of someone who had a contract voided along with maintaining proper and judicial control over the public purse’.

“As a result of this government’s refusal to engage in settlement discussions, ADPL has been left with no choice but to launch our constitutional case against the Government of Bermuda regarding the voiding of the waterfront lease.

“A summons will be filed in short order.”

Mr MacLean told The Royal Gazette in December that his long-running legal battle over the project had cost him close to $4 million.

The deal ended up before an arbitration panel after Mr MacLean lost his 262-year lease on about 20 acres of Bermuda’s prime real estate.

The development, announced by former mayor Graeme Outerbridge in January 2013, was touted as “the dawn of a new Hamilton”, with Allied Development Partners chosen as the partner company.

But the new One Bermuda Alliance administration objected to the agreement and home affairs minister Michael Fahy said that the Government had been left in the dark.

Legislation was approved in October 2013 that retroactively required any Corporation of Hamilton lease of more than 21 years to get parliamentary approval.

Home affairs minister Walton Brown said in December that the arbitration, which started in 2014, was terminated by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley in November.

He added then that the Government was prepared to “bring this issue involving the voiding of the waterfront lease to an end”.

But Mr MacLean said yesterday that the ruling by the Chief Justice “does not bring finality to the legal debacle as ADPL still has a right to pursue constitutional relief regarding the voiding of the waterfront lease”.

Mr MacLean said that he would also be taking legal action against Mr Brown.

He referred to comments made by Mr Brown on a radio show, where he is alleged to have said he would represent Mr MacLean in the matter, and a later statement in Parliament, when he denied any dialogue or negotiations with Mr MacLean.

Mr MacLean said: “I have been duly informed by the Bermuda Police Service that a complaint has been made by Minister Brown alleging extortion.”

He added: “It is noteworthy that Minister Brown has not taken any civil legal action alleging slander or libel in relation to my disclosures.

“However, I take great exception to my character and reputation being attacked and I will be taking action against Minister Brown.

Mr MacLean added that a lawyer’s letter would be sent to Mr Brown “shortly”.

He said the previous OBA government had offered to compensate him for “immediate losses” in a letter from former minister Michael Fahy dated April 15, 2014.

He added: “For the avoidance of doubt, the Government failed to honour their undertaking, which ADPL legitimately relied upon, to cover expenses as stated in the letter from Senator Fahy.”

Mr MacLean said that Mr Brown’s comments in November last year that he was given the right to develop the Par-la-Ville hotel “in part, as compensation for the voiding” were “simply untrue”. He also accused the Progressive Labour Party government of changing its stance and spreading “false and misleading innuendo”.

Mr MacLean said he had met David Burt, the Premier, “on many occasions” while he was deputy Opposition leader.

He added: “Together, we perused documents and I provided him with pertinent information that he and his party used to condemn the previous administration’s actions.

“We maintained contact even after the PLP’s landslide General Election victory and so it is very surprising, most unfortunate, and deeply saddening that he and his cabinet have disregarded their pre-election position regarding this matter and continue to promulgate false and misleading innuendo.”

Mr MacLean also claimed that attempts to connect the waterfront lease and the Par-la-Ville hotel lease by “some” people was “a carefully orchestrated, targeted attempt to besmirch my character and avoid having to address the constitutionally enshrined compensatory aspect of the voiding of the waterfront lease”.

Mr MacLean emphasised that he had co-operated with a police investigation into the disappearance of $18 million for the Par-la-Ville hotel.

He added that the Police and the Government “are now both well aware” that Robert McKellar of Argyle UAE was involved in an action in the English High Court in relation to funds transferred to him to arrange financing for the Par-la-Ville hotel.

Mr MacLean said: “It was revealed in those proceedings that he ... used the funds transferred to him, to purchase an Aston Martin car, two luxury homes and an engagement ring.

“I personally did not, nor did any entities that I have an interest in, have any knowledge of, or involvement in Mr McKellar’s use of the monies on those items.”

Mr Brown, Mr Burt and the government press office were contacted for comment but no response was received by press time.

For Michael MacLean’s full release and supporting documents, including a Hansard transcript from October 2, 2013, click on the PDF links under “Related Media”

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