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Emails ‘Should Not Have Been Tabled’

Former House Speaker Dr Kendal Major.

Former House Speaker Dr Kendal Major.

By SANCHESKA BROWN

Tribune Staff Reporter

sbrown@tribunemedia.net

HOUSE Speaker Dr Kendall Major admitted yesterday that he should not have allowed Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald to read and table the private emails of environmental action group Save The Bays in Parliament.

Appearing as a guest on the 96.9 FM talk show “Morning Blend,” Dr Major said in hindsight he should have stopped Mr Fitzgerald and said in the future no emails will be read in the House of Assembly unless they are vetted.

However, Dr Major reiterated that he does not believe the judiciary should interfere with matters in Parliament and said “respectfully” the court ought to mind its own business.

Earlier this month, in a landmark ruling, Supreme Court Justice Indra Charles declared that Mr Fitzgerald was not legally justified when he tabled the private emails of Save The Bays in the House of Assembly, and therefore could not be protected by parliamentary privilege.

Justice Charles ruled that the Marathon MP’s actions were an infringement of the constitutional rights of the applicants and ordered Mr Fitzgerald to pay $150,000 in damages for the breach.

Mr Fitzgerald was also permanently banned from disclosure and publication of any further material belonging to Save The Bays and was ordered to delete all electronic and hard copy material within 14 days.

The Office of the Attorney General has said that it would appeal the ruling and was granted a stay pending the appeal.

“Looking back at it, I should not have allowed that to happen,” Dr Major said.

“It isn’t right for someone to just pick up an email, whether or not it is private or confidential, whether they got it illegally or not and just read it in the House of Assembly for the world to hear unless it is vetted and we can determine its veracity. If that can be determined and the source is determined and no laws are being violated, then that member would have the right to divulge it.”

Despite his second thoughts, Dr Major repeated that he thought the court’s ruling “violated the principle that underpinned the country’s democracy.”

“They (parliamentarians) must be in a position to speak freely and openly without fear of reprisal,” he said.

“If they don’t have that, then any judge or any court that tells a parliamentarian what they cannot say, in essence the next step will be to tell parliamentarians what they should say if it becomes a line of demarcation of comity between the Parliament and the courts, where the courts ought to mind its own business and I say that respectfully.”

In March, Mr Fitzgerald accused Save The Bays of being a political organisation seeking to “overthrow” the Progressive Liberal Party government under the guise of being an environmental group. In the House of Assembly, Mr Fitzgerald read private emails from Save The Bays members and others, which he said bolstered his claims.

Speaking outside Parliament, Mr Fitzgerald later warned members of the environmental group to “batten down” because a “category five” hurricane was on its way, as he threatened to table “every single” email and bank statement in his possession if needed to protect his integrity and parliamentary privilege.

After he was ordered to pay $150,000 in damages, Mr Fitzgerald said only Dr Major could stop him from speaking in Parliament.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years, 6 months ago

Major has now all but said outright that the Judge ruled correctly in this matter; i.e. no parliamentarian is above the laws of our land simply because he or she is a parliamentarian. Parliament has a duty to not allow itself to be used to provide cover or protection for any parliamentarian who has engaged in illegal or wrongful acts. It seems Major has only just woken up to this simple fact, albeit somewhat reluctantly. If Toxic Fumes Fitz and the Attorney General persist with the frivolous appeal of this matter, the Court of Appeals should caution them that it might be minded to award costs against Allyson Maynard-Gibson aka the Wicked Witch of the West and Toxic Fumes Fitz personally. We the taxpayers should not have to bear the costs of an appeal frivolously brought by the Wicked Witch and Toxic Fumes Fitz. There is ample case precedent that the Judge ruled correctly and more than fairly in this matter. Christie should simply have Baltron "Bag Man" Bethel cut a $150,000 cheque to the Save the Bays organization. End of story.

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Publius 3 years, 6 months ago

The Bahamas is a monumental disgrace among Parliamentary democracies. What many do not appreciate is that electing a novice to the post of House Speaker is an absolute affront to the system and in mature democracies it is not done. But that is exactly what our governments here do in order to completely pervert and irreparably damage the system to their ultimate benefit. And since the overwhelming majority of people who lust for parliament seats today know next to nothing about the system they are lusting for, it does not matter to them that all we are doing at this point is going through the motions of a process that we have long since twisted beyond right-recognition.

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 6 months ago

Hindsight is 20/20 .............. Doc Major is right ......... he let the cat out of the bag on that one ...... and the Judge was right to censure an irresponsible MP who was trying to sling S@*T at the Save The Bays to prevent them from bringing out anymore of the PLP dirt with Nygard

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Alex_Charles 3 years, 6 months ago

Imagine if a Bahamian Judge made the call? I have serious doubt about our legal system, that intentionally went to Indra Charles for a reason.

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 6 months ago

The Judge acted on the LAW ........... has nothing to do with her race, creed, origin or sex ........... do not be shallow on this issue

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birdiestrachan 3 years, 6 months ago

Dr; Major is a very good speaker. unlike Alvin Smith. In my view he stifles members to much .if the judge is allowed to tell members of parliament what they can say and not say. Maybe it should go bothways. Worse has been said on the house floor. the problems arise when they * speak outside of the house. Quite a few of the Out spoken QC cases are before the same judge, Should the same apply when Newspapers obtain documents and print them? They should not lie on people but no one should be afraid of the truth . What is the QC afraid of.? The truth will come out some day.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years, 6 months ago

You really are a narrow minded idiot blinded by your own very small world. Newspapers usually do get sued whenever they wrongfully publish something they know was illegally obtained that results in damages being incurred by someone else. Parliamentarians should be treated no differently than the newspapers in the same set of circumstances; i.e. neither is above the law and both are therefore accountable to the damaged party(ies) under the law.

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licks2 3 years, 6 months ago

You are not being truthful here. . . Mr. Speaker is wimpish, obstinate, biased, ignorant of house precedent laws and I can go on. . .this man is a rather poor speaker. . . HE HAS CAUSED A CRISIS THAT WILL GO A LONG WAY TO HINDER WHAT INFORMATION CAN BE EXPOSED IN HE HOA. That will not be overturned . . .even if by our "buddy court" system. . .THE PRIVY COUNCIL WILL UP-HOLD THE RULING. YOU SHOULD READ THE GUARDIAN EDITORIAL FOR TODAY. . .THAT CASE IS A GIVEN. . .SPEAKER MAJOR "PUNKED OUT" ONE TIME TOO MANY WITH HIS PLP BUDDIES IN THE HOA. . .THIS TIME HE STEPPED INTO A BIG PILE OF DOG "PATTIE". . .

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birdiestrachan 3 years, 6 months ago

The judge in New York had the good sense not to try the frivolous case in her court. Will the out spoken QC bring the case to the Bahamas?

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DillyTree 3 years, 6 months ago

"Respectfully", Dr Major, if you had done your business, there would have been no need for the court to do so. You failed to do your duty in the House of Assembly, which is the only reason it ever became a matter for the court.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years, 6 months ago

Spot on my friend! It is a very incompetent Dr. Major who should be paying all of the legal bills for both sides in this matter. Major's incompetence will cost us taxpayers dearly to the extent we the people must bear any of the legal costs associated with the efforts of parliamentarians (like Toxic Fumes Fitz and Fweddy Boy Mitchell) to have themselves declared above the law.

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Greentea 3 years, 6 months ago

Why do we have to pay? Toxic Fumes Fitz was the one who was ruled against. Let him pay- Oops- no money- does that mean jail? Please say yes.

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Honestman 3 years, 6 months ago

Major has been out of his depth as House Speaker from day one. I guess that's why the feckless PLP selected him.

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asiseeit 3 years, 6 months ago

This was the sweeping under the rug in action. Criminals, they run the show!

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