Brown threatens Bean with legal action
Former Premier Ewart Brown has threatened legal action against Marc Bean for allegedly making defamatory remarks about him at Alaska Hall.
A letter from Dr Brown's attorney Wendell Hollis, addressed to Mr Bean, accuses him of libellous comments at two meetings held last week over the leadership of the Progressive Labour Party.
Dr Brown acted as a mentor to Mr Bean throughout the early years of his political career, and the fallout comes as a further blow to the Leader of the Opposition, who has already seen seven MPs resign from his Shadow Cabinet.
In the letter, dated this Monday and obtained by The Royal Gazette yesterday, Mr Hollis of HCS Law wrote: “We have been consulted by the former Premier and Leader of the Progressive Labour Party, Dr the Hon Ewart Brown.
“Dr Brown has consulted us in relation to remarks made by you to those assembled at Alaska Hall last week for two closed sessions involving matters concerning your leadership of the Progressive Labour Party.”
Mr Hollis went on to outline a number of accusations that were allegedly made by Mr Bean about Dr Brown.
The letter continued: “There is no question that these comments are defamatory and libellous of Dr Brown. The comments are clearly false and untrue.
“Dr Brown understands that there is to be another meeting at Alaska Hall tonight [December 7] and he has therefore instructed us to write this letter demanding that at that meeting you retract the comments set out above.
“In the meantime Dr Brown reserves all such rights as he may have to commence proceedings against you for significant damages arising from the comments made above.
“We look forward to receiving confirmation that you have retracted the comments.” It is understood that Mr Bean did not attend the meeting and that PLP deputy leader David Burt chaired in his absence.
When asked by this newspaper whether he had made the remarks, and if so whether he intended to retract them at a later date, Mr Bean replied: “No comment.”
Dr Brown stated to this newspaper last night: “I truly regret that a confidential letter that my attorney wrote to our PLP leader has been leaked to the press. I had no desire or intent to disclose this letter to the party or to the community at large, as I had hoped that the matter could be handled privately.
“I think the entire situation is unfortunate and will say nothing further at this time.”
Last week, it was reported that seven members of the Opposition had resigned from the Shadow Cabinet, with former shadow tourism minister Zane DeSilva confirming his decision was based on Mr Bean's leadership. Walton Brown, Derrick Burgess, Rolfe Commissiong, Wayne Furbert and Kim Wilson have also stepped down, as well as Glenn Blakeney, who has since announced his retirement as an MP for personal reasons.
Sources have suggested that Mr Bean's position as leader is looking increasingly precarious and that Mr DeSilva is being urged by senior figures to challenge his leadership. Some members said they had felt betrayed by the Opposition's Reply to the Throne Speech, which included items that had been agreed by members to be left out.
It was said to be the final straw in a string of public statements perceived to be inappropriate, coupled with a “contemptuous” handling of meetings. Dr Brown was instrumental in Mr Bean's rise through the PLP ranks: unveiling him as one of the youngest candidates for the 2007 General Election, and then fast-tracking him into the Senate a year later, before endorsing him to take his own parliamentary seat in Warwick South Central following his retirement in 2010.
Last night, Mr Bean remained quoted on the PLP's website as saying: “Under the leadership of Premier Ewart Brown, who has become a mentor to me, I continue to strive to reach my full potential, recognising that in so doing, and according to the will of the Lord, I am fulfilling my life's purpose.”