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OBA leader says senator locked in unpaid rent legal battle should quit the Upper House

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Curtis Richardson (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Resignation may be the “best option” for a controversial senator and junior minister after a court heard he had failed to pay $19,000 in rent arrears to his elderly former landlady, the Leader of the Opposition said yesterday.

Cole Simons said: “When it comes to standards, Senators and MPs should respect the trust the people have placed in them

“I think that he should lead by example.

“He should not only set standards, but he should follow those standards.

“They should do the right thing.”

Mr Simons, of the One Bermuda Alliance, was speaking after Curtis Richardson, the junior national security minister, admitted in the Supreme Court that he owed Margaret Harvey, who is in her 70s, the cash – and offered to pay it off at $100 a month.

Ms Harvey said after the court hearing on Thursday that the long legal battle with Mr Richardson over the unpaid rent had taken a major toll on her health.

She said she had become ill, was unable to sleep and her hair had started to fall out because of the stress.

The Supreme Court heard that an arrest warrant for Mr Richardson, who earns more than $30,000 a year as a senator, had been reissued on December 3 last year after he failed to appear for a Magistrates’ Court hearing.

Mr Richardson told the Supreme Court he had not turned up because he was told the appearance had been cancelled because of his appeal to the higher court.

It was revealed in Supreme Court that Mr Richardson had only paid $1,400 of the arrears and that Financial Assistance paid $1,163 per month for him in September, October, and November 2020.

Magistrate’s Court had earlier ruled that Mr Richardson should pay $325 a month.

Mr Richardson was given a notice to quit a property owned by Ms Harvey by end of March 2020, but did not vacate the premises until the next year.

Cole Simons, OBA leader (file picture)

Michael Dunkley, a former OBA premier and the shadow national security minister, insisted Mr Burt needed to get a grip on the situation.

He said: “As a former premier, I would expect the current Premier to have a conversation with the senator and junior minister to consider if he still has the trust of the people and the party he serves.

“I had these challenges when I was leader, but you have to make decisions.”

The controversy was revealed after Mr Richardson asked for a Supreme Court hearing to discuss means test orders.

The Supreme Court dismissed his appeal on Thursday and referred the case back to Magistrates’ Court.

David Burt, the Premier, appointed Mr Richardson, a taxi driver, to the Upper House in October 2020 and made him junior transport minister as well as national security spokesman – a brief that covers law and order.

A spokeswoman for the Progressive Labour Party said: “We will not comment on any active personal legal matter.

“We trust that the independent judicial system will handle the case appropriately.

“We believe that, in Bermuda, nobody is above the law but that everyone is entitled to fair and just treatment under the law regardless of economic or political position.“

Mr Burt and the Government did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

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