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MP firing ‘not linked to New York meeting’

JetBlue termination: Lawrence Scott has filed for wrongful dismissal and lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Lawrence Scott’s dismissal from JetBlue Airways was not discussed beforehand at a New York meeting featuring figureheads from the airline and the Bermuda Government, a source has revealed.

On Monday, Mr Scott, a Progressive Labour Party MP, claimed that he had been terminated from his supervisor job at JetBlue because of his vocal opposition to the redevelopment of LF Wade International Airport.

The shadow transport minister accused Canadian developer Aecon, which is scheduled to undertake the $250 million project, of strong-arming JetBlue into dismissing him from his ten-year tenure with the American airline.

Mr Scott, who was suspended in March and terminated in April, has filed for wrongful dismissal in the Supreme Court and lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission over the matter.

The Warwick South East MP insinuated that his firing was linked to a meeting held in New York in February, attended by Michael Dunkley, the Premier, Shawn Crockwell, in his former capacity as Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, Cabinet Secretary Derrick Binns, senior JetBlue figures including chief executive officer Robin Hayes and representatives from Bermuda’s aviation and tourism industries.

However, The Royal Gazette’s source, who participated in the discussions, rejected this suggestion.

The non-political source, who asked not to be named, said: “There was no conversation at any time during our visit concerning Mr Scott.

“The purpose of the meeting revolved around additional airlift capacity.”

Mr Dunkley also strongly refuted Mr Scott’s implication. “It is extremely concerning, regrettable and dangerous that the Opposition can publicly make false declarations and unsubstantiated allegations and try to peddle them as fact,” the Premier said.

“Quite simply, the allegations are false and what is being suggested by the shadow minister did not happen.”

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman added that the meeting’s true purpose — to discuss the carrier’s past, present and future relationship with Bermuda — had been outlined to the media both before and after it took place.

At Monday’s press conference, Mr Scott said that the reason given for his sacking at the time pertained to an unapproved donation of airline tickets he made to charity.

Meanwhile, his leaked termination letter listed the following reasons for his removal: “Lying or providing false statements during an investigation; violation of safety and/or work rules; conduct detrimental to JetBlue’s best interests; and incompetence and/or misconduct, including professional misconduct.”

Mr Scott was supported in his allegations by David Burt, the acting Leader of the Opposition, who described the “unjust targeting” of his party colleague as “absolutely shocking” and “quite shameful”.

In response, Aecon president Steve Nackan said that his company’s focus was on “the development of a world-class airport for Bermuda”.

He added: “This particular issue is strictly between JetBlue and Mr Scott.”

A spokesman for JetBlue said that the company did not comment on employment matters.