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Pepper spray payouts statement postponed

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Demonstration flashpoint: a protester wipes her eyes after pepper spray was used by police outside the House of Assembly in December 2016 (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Speaker of the House of Assembly yesterday blocked a statement on payments to pepper-sprayed protesters who forced a postponement of a House of Assembly meeting.

Dennis Lister told Wayne Caines, the national security minister, to postpone his statement until a Joint Select Committee set up to examine the events of December 2, 2016, had delivered its findings.

The JSC was set up in January 2018 to look into the clash between police and demonstrators, when several protesters were pepper-sprayed by officers after a protest against the redevelopment of the airport.

The minister revealed earlier this week that an undisclosed settlement — said to be about $225,000 — had been agreed with complainants who were seeking legal action against the Police Complaints Authority.

The payments came after the PCA’s investigation of the clash found fault with senior police management, but not with individual officers tasked with clearing demonstrators.

Mr Caines said the agreement had been “amicable” and averted long and expensive court proceedings.

Kim Swan, the Progressive Labour Party MP head of the JSC, told The Royal Gazette yesterday he was unable to comment.

But he confirmed: “We are in the wrapping-up stages.”

Speaker of the House Dennis Lister (Photograph by Akil Simmons)