Appeal to bombard Premier for answers on social media about senator scandal
The family of an elderly woman owed $19,000 in rent by a Progressive Labour Party senator has appealed to people with questions about the behaviour of the Premier during the controversy to bombard him with demands for answers on his social media sites.
Curtis Richardson will quit the Senate and a junior ministerial post next week after a torrent of criticism engulfed him and the PLP after his former landlady, Margaret Harvey, who is in her seventies, broke down in tears in the Supreme Court as she described the toll the long running legal battle to recover the unpaid rent had taken on her health.
David Burt refused to answer questions from The Royal Gazette on the scandal for six days.
But he got in contact with the Harvey family on Wednesday to offer a private meeting.
The family branded the move “better late than never”, but questioned why Mr Burt had not been in touch since he ignored their warnings about Mr Richardson’s debt in September 2020 – and elevated him to the Senate and two junior ministries a month later.
After the PLP leadership said they continued to support the disgraced senator and insisted the issue was about debt and hardship, the Harveys said Mr Richardson was originally served notice to quit on March 1, 2020, due to “repeated complaints about noise” from the property – not because of rent arrears.
It was only when he refused to move out that he stopped paying his $2,500 a month rent.
The family said he quit the cottage at the end of January last year – ten months after he was asked to leave.
Ms Harvey’s daughter, Margot Harvey, a doctor, who represented her mother in the Supreme Court, said that the Premier’s reasons for ignoring the families warnings and appointing Mr Richardson to the senate should be made public.
Dr Harvey highlighted an e-mail from Major Marc Telemaque, the Cabinet Secretary, to the family in September 202O that said that Mr Burt had been “made aware” of the situation and would “address the matter directly with Mr Richardson”
Dr Harvey said: “The Premier contacted me directly Wednesday afternoon for the first time since the second e-mail was received from Marc Telemaque.
“Better late than never.
“If he wanted to address us previously, I am sure Curtis Richardson could have passed along our details.
“If the public has questions for the Premier about Mr Richardson’s case, he has multiple social media platforms and e-mail that he can be contacted on.”
Dr Harvey added: “People are trying to make this a political issue instead of looking at the main points.
“Firstly, Mr Richardson was asked to leave my mom’s property. He did not, even after the court ordered him to do so.
“He stayed on in my mom’s two bedroom, two bathroom cottage for 10 months, racking up $2,500 each month.
“Secondly, Mr. Richardson was asked to pay monthly by the courts. He did not. The $300 we received in July 2021 from his testimony to Magistrates’ Court was from driving someone else’s taxi while they were on vacation.”
She claimed that he never paid from his senator or junior minister salary.
Dr Harvey said Mr Richardson’s offer in the Supreme Court last week to pay off the debt at $100 per month was unrealistic.
Dr Harvey said: “At $100 a month it will take Mr Richardson 15 plus years to pay my mom back the money owed. She will be in her 90s.“
Mr Richardson has paid only $1,400 towards the debt since he was ordered to quit the property in March 2020.
Financial Assistance paid $1,163 for him per month in September, October and November 2020.
Dr Harvey added that correspondence between her mother and Mr Richardson had been through written messages and that he made “multiple complaints” about the court process which are on the public record.
Mr Burt said he was “more than happy to speak with them directly which I believe is far more productive than doing so via The Royal Gazette”.
Walter Roban, the home affairs minister said he was “saddened” by the senator’s resignation.
He added: “I certainly do not wish any stress on the Harvey family, any more than what they have already had to endure, but I am saddened by the departure of senator Richardson and I wish him the best and will continue to support him in any way I can.”
Mr Richardson could not be contacted for comment.