One year after he challenged police to “put up or shut up” by either charging him or ending their multi-million dollar investigation, former Premier Dr Ewart Brown has called for a Commission of Inquiry to look into the conduct of both the police and the Attorney General’s Chambers.
Terming it an “endless investigation” Queens Counsel Jerome Lynch met with the media yesterday while a letter was being sent to Government House, calling on Governor John Rankin to “instigate a Commission of Inquiry”.
“It seems to us the only way to discover the answers to those questions is to invite Your Excellency to instigate a Commission of Inquiry under the powers granted to you by Section 1 of the Commission of Inquiry Act 1935 to looking into the conduct of the Bermuda Police Service and the Attorney-General’s Department for the benefit of the
public act,” said Mr Lynch.
He questioned whether the six-year investigation that has cost taxpayers millions of dollars was a “persecution rather than a prosecution” against Dr Brown and his businesses. And he questioned just how long it will continue.
In a five-page open letter to the Governor, Mr Lynch said: “No citizen of this country, especially a Bermudian who has served his country, should be subject to a protracted and relentless investigation that now exceeds six years.”
He noted that “at no time in the ensuing six years have the police arrested Dr Brown”. “They have not asked him a single question or sought his cooperation (though willingly offered), they have not asked him to produce any material, for them to consider from either his tenure as premier or his business practices since,” he added.
“What they have done instead, is to systematically harass Dr Brown’s colleagues and friends, spending millions of taxpayer funds to search for evidence of some crime that they have failed in six years to find but that they are certain must exist.
“In this latest stage, the police seek to rely on a series of witnesses who are former disgruntled employees, having been dismissed from Bermuda Healthcare Services for their own failings and who appear to have been disbelieved by all other agencies to who they have complained.”
He also cited the case of Dr Reddy, the Commission of Inquiry, the police raids at Dr Brown’s clinics, the lawsuit filed by the Attorney General against Lahey Clinic and the “unilateral slashing of diagnostic imaging fees by the Bermuda Health Council”.
On that note, Mr Lynch said: “What is disturbing is that this appears to be deliberately targeted on the businesses which Dr Brown operates. Is it yet another attempt to drive him out of business? ‘If we can’t get him one way, we will get him another’ seems to be the approach that the state is taking.”
He noted that “police confirmed following a PATI request that between 2013 and 2016 they had spent $2.2 million dollars investigating the allegation utilizing a dedicated police team”.
“This takes no account of the costs between 2011 and 2013, or the costs since June of 2016 to date, nor does it take into account the costs of a COI, defending the proceedings arising from the unlawful arrest of Dr Reddy and the searches of the clinics, the proceedings in the US against Lahey Clinic and the associated Liberty Square, or the misguided attempt to reduce the fees payable for diagnostic imaging,” Mr Lynch said.
“There can be no doubt that the Bermudian state has now spent millions of dollars investigating everything that Dr Brown has done over the past 20 years and come up with nothing after six years.
“The time has come to find out if this investigation is, in fact, a persecution rather than a prosecution, whether it is borne of personal animus rather than a genuine inquiry into suspected criminal conduct, whether this is politically driven rather than independently investigated.”
Mr Lynch concluded: “It is our view that the endless ‘investigation’ into Dr Brown is an abuse of executive power subjecting him to intolerable strain and inflicting a degree of suffering that no citizen in a civilized country should have to endure.”
The “only way to discover the answers to those questions” he said, “is to invite” the Governor “to instigate a Commission of Inquiry into the conduct of the Bermuda Police Service,…and the Attorney General’s Department, for the benefit of the public welfare”.