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Ex-Minister stands down from BEDC

Standing down: Former government minister Jamahl Simmons has quit the BEDC (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Former Cabinet Minister Jamahl Simmons has stood down from the chairmanship of a government quango.

Mr Simmons became chairman of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation last August, replacing Neville Grant, who was demoted to deputy chairman.

But in a recent Government notice, Mr Grant resumed his old role as the head of the BEDC on January 1 after Mr Simmons stepped down from the post.

When contacted by The Royal Gazette, Mr Simmons said he stood down from the position to pursue other interests.

Mr Simmons held a number of Cabinet posts after the 2017 General Election, including Minister for Tourism and Minister without Portfolio.

David Burt, the Premier, demoted him to the back benches in June, 2020, but he remained a junior minister until taking up the chairmanship of the BEDC.

Mr Simmons is understood to have fallen out of favour with the Progressive Labour Party after party colleague Rolfe Commissiong was controversially appointed to the Senate and made Minister of Community Affairs following last October’s General Election.

Mr Commissiong had been forced to stand down as a PLP candidate in the run-up to the poll after it was revealed that he had made an “inappropriate comment” to a female government worker two years previously.

Despite that controversy, the Premier appointed Mr Commissiong to the Senate following the PLP’s landslide victory.

The appointment was condemned by Mr Simmons, who tweeted that misogyny had “no place anywhere”.

Mr Simmons added that it should “be even more intolerable in the House that Dame Lois and so many other women sacrificed to build” – in reference to Dame Lois Browne-Evans, a pioneering former leader of the party.

Mr Burt fired Mr Commissiong two days later.

A Government spokeswoman also confirmed that Mr Simmons’ wife, Sherri Simmons, is no longer working as a consultant for the Minister of Legal Affairs.

Ms Simmons, a former radio talk show host, was given the job in October 2018.

The appointment caused controversy six months later after it was revealed Ms Simmons was being paid $116,317 a year for the post.

Then-Opposition leader Craig Cannonier said at the time: “What it looks like is that this is a friends and family thing.

“In order to dispel that, you need to give the qualifications as to why someone would be in Legal Affairs that's in advertising.

“You need to dispel the myths of friends and family by qualifying these people as to why they are in this position.”

This story has been edited to clarify that Mr Simmons in fact spoke to The Royal Gazette and stated that he had stepped down to pursue other interests.

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Published February 11, 2021 at 8:47 am (Updated February 12, 2021 at 11:33 am)

Ex-Minister stands down from BEDC

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