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Dunkley apologises over Burgess row

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An Opposition MP offered an apology last Friday after the Speaker of the House of Assembly found that he broke Parliamentary procedure rules.

Michael Dunkley, of the One Bermuda Alliance, added that he would withdraw comments made a week earlier in an exchange with Derrick Burgess, a Progressive Labour Party member and the Deputy Speaker.

A row broke out between the MPs on July 17 over a police probe into a Dunkley's Dairy container that carried drugs.

Mr Burgess, the member for Constituency 5 — Hamilton East — claimed then that he had a report from a “chief investigating officer”.

He added that Mr Dunkley, who represents Constituency 10 — Smith's North — was not investigated because of “white privilege”.

But Mr Dunkley, the president of the dairy firm, said that was “total nonsense” and asked for comments to be withdrawn as they were an attempt to “impugn” his character.

Dennis Lister, the Speaker, asked Mr Burgess to table the report at the next sitting and said that he would decide then how to proceed.

He explained on Friday: “During the sitting of last Friday, the 17th of July under the motion to adjourn, the member for Constituency 10 made a point of order that the member from Constituency 5 was misleading the House.

“The point of order was accepted, at which time the member from Constituency 5 offered to produce the information to which he referred.

“Further to this, the ensuing exchange that followed resulted in breaches to standing orders by the member for Constituency 10.

“I state this to put the matter in the proper context that gives rise to me to address the matter today.

“Firstly, the member for Constituency 5 has, as requested, provided the Speaker with the said documentation.

“Full credit is given to the member for honouring his commitment to produce the information.”

Mr Lister said that based on an “extensive review” of the information, he found that it should be “directed to the judgment of the judicial branch and not the legislative branch”.

The Speaker told the House: “Therefore the information will not be tabled.”

He said that Mr Dunkley was to request to withdraw comments and asked the MP to “acknowledge” a standing order related to the rules of debate.

Mr Lister added: “Members, I've ruled on last week's matter, I consider the matter to be duly addressed.”

Mr Dunkley said: “If I breached any rules of the House I certainly will apologise and withdraw those comments.

“I've read the Hansard again and clearly I will follow your ruling.”

But he added: “When we had a phone conversation today you also said that you would ask the honourable member from Constituency 5 to do the same as I have just done.”

Mr Lister replied: “I indicated that the matter will not be tabled and I think it's in the best interests of all persons that it's not been tabled, so the ruling looks to be fair to both members.”

He added: “I've ruled on it and I don't intend to speak on it any more.”

Mr Burgess, during the Motion to Adjourn, said: “I'm satisfied that the document in question will be sent for the judgment of the judicial ...”

But Mr Lister interrupted and said he did not think “we should really go down that road” because it would “open up the conversation” for others.

Mr Burgess said he was “reading from the document” and not going against the Speaker's judgment.

He added: “I'm trying to be very cordial and proper.

“You cannot tell me, when I'm doing right, what to say and what not to say.”

Mr Lister told him: “I'm not telling you what to say and what not to say.”

Derrick Burgess, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly (File photograph)
Michael Dunkley (File photograph by Akil Simmons)
Speaker of the House of Assembly, Dennis Lister (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published July 27, 2020 at 1:29 pm (Updated July 27, 2020 at 1:29 pm)

Dunkley apologises over Burgess row

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