Berating a destructive Submission

Shelley Harris gets the rebuke of Montserrat on her submission to the FAC Inquiry

No other British resident has gone this far!

Former DFID Miss Priti Patel

In the October 19, 2018 issue of the TMR newspaper the Editorial caption read, “We cringe at what the FAC submissions must look like”. We had in our possession a copy of one of the submissions, and were seeking to obtain any others that had been made to include Government of Montserrat (GoM).

The submissions could have been made orally or written; (and we believe both if necessary). On November 7, we noted that most written ‘evidence’ submissions were published on the 6th and accessible at: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/foreign-affairs-committee/inquiries1/parliament-2017/inquiry13/publications/

Two were published on Nov 13, while oral evidence was given by our Janice Panton on Nov 12 published 06 Nov 2018 – The future of the UK Overseas Territories – oral evidence | PDF version (247 KB) HC 1464 | (Published 12 Nov 2018) along with Elise Donovan, British Virgin Islands (BVI) Government representative in the UK, and Janice Panton, Montserrat Government representative in the UK.

Janice Panton, Montserrat Government representative in the UK

On Nov 7 having been directed to the above link of the submissions, attention was drawn by a usually reliable source to a submission, by Shelley Harris husband to Nigel Harris of Montserrat Airways Ltd. owners of the airline FlyMontserrat.

The cringe was here and by the next day, the gates opened with the correspondence and the reaction of anyone Montserratian or just a friend of Montserrat.

The written submission was just over three pages long, but the contents became the subject of castigation, on Social media, radio statements, without discussion, except for ‘support’ from Speaker Shirley Osborne and distance statement from her husband Nigel on behalf of FlyMontserrat. That came in for its own criticism as well.

Mrs. Harris in the Statement in which she even denounced The Montserrat Reporter (TMR) and Radio Montserrat. “A free press would help,” she wrote. “Currently the only newspaper (TMR) hardly every(sic) ever comes out and is reduced to just republishing other agency material from off island. The Radio station is frightened to say anything anti-government and much goes unreported unless the speaker can get on air live.”

Attention was drawn to the BBC TV broadcast of the oral evidence being given https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/e2fd46fe-6270-4c04-a122-da37f8e5724a – on Tuesday 6 November 2018 Meeting started at 2.51pm, ended 4.37pm and was now being rebroadcast on the 8th.

Very quickly following the broadcast, it was noticed, former DFID Miss Priti Patel had stated: “We have also had evidence that the Montserrat Government are completely incompetence (sic) incompetent and waste enormous amounts of money, which comes from the British taxpayer!” then asked, “Is that something you think is true?” The answer was a straight “No.”

Soon after, the Committee Chairman asked Panton: “Is Montserrat sustainable as an individual territory anymore?”

Janice Panton: “I think it could be. If you look at what Montserrat as a territory has to offer…”

This one writer’s observation was directly taken from Harris’ submission. Their first reaction we received, to that and the rest, “she should be deported!” A strong feeling of disgust, suggesting, “In case anyone thought that what Shelley Harris said to the UK government could simply be ignored as the rant of an ungrateful guest in our country.  Think again.”

They cited the questions to Panton noting that Harris said in her submission: “2. Montserrat does not have a functioning government. The current one is completely incompetent and wastes enormous amounts of money – most of which comes from the British taxpayer.” The writer referenced the question (137) in the transcript from Patel as above, noting that “Panton was visibly taken aback by the ridiculous assertion and could only manage to respond; “No. That is not something I think…””

“So, there we have it; every negative word uttered by a woman whose salary is paid by Montserrat out of the mismanaged UK aid funds, is being thrown back in our face verbatim by a ranking member of the FAC… Can you imagine what else the Harris’ say to the UK government officials behind our back…” And showing more serious concern, “And who knows what other rubbish the UK officials take on board as factual,” concluding that “the matter was more serious”, than they thought at first.

There are those who suggested that Harris did not expect or realised that her submission would be publicized, believing, rightly that this was not a first that British residents have done previously and for some time.

This writer said: “When Shelly Harris wants to send secret messages to the FCO to talk about poor governance and waste of tax payers’ money, she would do well to remember that Fly Montserrat has never paid a penny in taxes into the Treasury so far in their entire existence on Montserrat, courtesy of the previous MCAP government.”

Other public comments, substantiated the writer, citing the waiver of taxes from 2009 – 2019: “S.R.O. 24 of 2014 – Exemption: Fly Montserrat Ltd. Is exempted from the payment of corporation tax for a period of five years commencing on 1st April, 2014 and terminating on 31st March, 2019.

Waiver of outstanding corporation tax: Fly Montserrat Ltd. Is granted a waiver of all outstanding tax owed before and up to 1st April, 2014.

This writer goes on to remind, that the MDC put EC$250,000 into the purchase of their 50-year-old aircraft; and, “it was the Government of Montserrat that bought the Medivac equipment for their aircraft;” and more, “They should tell everyone that they get a monthly hand out from the Access Division, yes a big fat check for EC$18,000. With no questions asked.”

No other company in Montserrat is treated so favourably… the writer states.” “Free Money! Help to buy money spinning Assets! and No Taxes!” 

“Yes, indeed Mrs Harris, what a waste of tax payers’ money.”

These questions flowed: How about the government takes your monthly hand out and uses that money in a manner that helps more people in Montserrat, rather than fund your large do-nothing salary?

 How about the FSC and Inland Revenue have a good look at your company’s accounts, which even your directors and shareholders can only take a peek at 10 minutes before your AGM, with no takeaway copies? What are you hiding? Perhaps a full audit of Fly Montserrat is in order! 

“Or better yet, how about you just leave the country?”

‘The Governor you testified is a wonderful chap. He tries to work in your interest. He calls Airport Management to smooth things.Well let me tell you one thing Mrs Fly Montserrat. You and the Governor don’t run this island. There will be never be UK Direct Rule here. Not in my lifetime.So, Thank You. Now everyone knows where you stand.”

Many questioned whether the Government would sit by without comment on the upsetting submission. It was not long before the Premier issued a statement, published in this issue for the benefit of the public. In the Statement which was also issued on radio, he said:

“While, like most, I was appalled at the tone of her unfounded accusations and ill-advised colonialistic suggestions, I must admit that I am not at all surprised.  Her statements clearly show the sort of attitudes and influences behind the scenes that have harmed and hampered Montserrat’s progress for many years.” 

Hylroy Bramble – Labour Speaks

Premier Donaldson Romeo

Visit to listen: https://montserratradioecho.wordpress.com/2018/11/14/wednesday-november-14-2018-a-statement-by-premier-hon-donaldson-romeo-regarding-shelley-harris-comments/

Also speaking out publicly. David Brandt who filed a written submission to the FAC made a statement on radio very critical of the Shelley Statement, noting that the Government is the biggest investor in the airline, while Nigel did not put in a cent (that depends).

Also, speaking out especially on the statement on labour conditions – Hylroy Bramble on his Labour Speaks program. https://montserratradioecho.wordpress.com/2018/11/14/wednesday-november-14-2018-labour-speaks-with-hylroy-bramble/

 

Visit to listen to these two: https://montserratradioecho.wordpress.com/2018/11/14/wednesday-november-14-2018-a-statement-by-david-s-brandt-regarding-shelley-harris-comments/ 

 

Reaction on Social media was also quick and one controversial but somewhat colourful commentator and observer began: “a Big RAZZAH To The Fly M/Rat Lady. Well Done. Take A Bow. All our local reverences to you.I For One Am Happy. Your written testimony to the UK Parliament Committee was outstanding. Yes I know you thought it would be secret. Or were you trying to be a whistle blower. Madame That ship has sunk like Mundo Boat. What we have here is just another ungrateful Visitor.

Yes Mrs Fly Montserrat. We bent over like gymnasts and had you ram your Chanticleer up our rears. I guess you wanted us to imbibe your bahookies too. So when we couldn’t ingest no more of your Crappola. You defamed us in your testimony to the Select Committee.

I hope at least one person chooses another service provider to get to Antigua.

If we had a Government. They could have run the Ferry seven days a week. If we had a Government they would have told you John A Osborne Airport doesn’t belong to you.

 You’re just a tenant.

The Governor you testified is a wonderful chap. He tries to work in your interest. He calls Airport Management to smooth things.

Well let me tell you one thing Mrs Fly Montserrat. You and the Governor don’t run this island. There’ll will be never be UK Direct Rule here. Not in my lifetime.

So Thank You. Now everyone knows where you stand.

But, while more outpouring of anger and disgust at Harris’ submission kept surfacing, her husband as a director on behalf of the FlyMontserrat company issued this: “Flymontserrat would like to make it clear that Statements recently made by Shelley Harris are made by her on an individual basis and not made on behalf of the company.”

This he undid or exposed the real truth and the reason why so many connected her to the company, and not believing anything he or she said afterwards: “The views made by Shelley Harris do not necessarily reflect the views of Flymontserrat.”

The situation is that her husband has expressed publicly and privately, many of the same sentiments and discontent and disagreements towards Montserrat, behaving often in a dishonest and destructive way, always in favour of the progress of his airline.

Meanwhile, Shelley issued a ‘comeback’ statement which she circulated, omitting TMR whom she had misrepresented directly in her destructive submission. That single act of exclusion on her part tells a picture that over time the public will know about. This writer and editor of TMR here takes responsibility for being in the forefront (not in that official capacity) of establishing the very name FlyMontserrat and lots more for an airline that turned out, not to be what had been envisioned and agreed before he was cast aside as one of three directors, the other having walked away from the company very soon after the ugliness exhibited in this saga of FlyMontserrat and its owners soon emerged.

ZJB radio carried a report on Shelley follow-up statement, as they may have received a copy thereof.  The report reflected some of the issues raised and explained from her submission. “The submission to the U.K. parliament to a FAC continues to attract the ire of some people both on Montserrat and in the diaspora. Shelley Harris has issued a statement in her defense.

In her submission to the FAC Mrs Harris launched what some perceived to be an attack on the people of Montserrat, its institutions (media included) and government. Among the statements thought to be provocative is a suggestion that the U.K. government should reduce the ferry service to 10 days of operation a year, productivity in the public service and the inability of the island to govern itself.

“As far as the access issue is concerned, Managing Director of Montserrat Nigel Harris distanced himself from the statement. made by his partner saying in a subsequent statement that the View made by Mrs. Harris did not necessarily reflect the views of the company.”

The report on the matter continued: Editor James White said: “Mrs. Harris in a statement on Tuesday, reveals that a submission to the F.A.C. in her own right was done without the knowledge of anyone in fly Montserrat until after the submission was made… She said she did it publicly because she believed in putting her name to her submission and not hiding behind anonymity Mrs. Harris highlights that being part of our democracy also have duties stressing that the freedom which the forefathers of Monserrat and the U.K. fought for.

(See abstracts of her statement highlighted elsewhere in this issue)

Yet, not every Montserratian agreed that the Shelley was more than offensive, as Shirley Osborne, the Hon Speaker of Montserrat’s Assembly, sprang up in her defence, or FlyMontserrat’s, exposing a natural but in our opinion, unprofessional bias.

Here is more social media reaction, some excerpts, this time to Shirley’s self-expose.

“Low and behold who was the appointed one. A black eye for St Peter’s Village. Bassie would say “a wa happun to mi pickney. A Drum Jam a real Jumbie Dance is needed To get di hex off SHIRLEY OSBORNE. It must be OBEAH not Filthy Lucre to meek shurli tun sell out.  Now me kno how dem brave boys felt on St Patrick’s Day so long ago.

Now Madame Speaker the outspoken defender of all things Montserratian. She is the one (they) chose.

Ms Osborne you claim we should be: Sensible, Strategic, Sophisticated and Objective. Is she throwing big words to fool some of us. Well The Conscience don’t have to look in no Dictionary to find out the meanings.

Let’s be SENSIBLE. Question. Is Fly M/Rat of any benefit to us? Let’s be STRATEGIC. Can we do better elsewhere? Let’s be SOPHISTICATED. We’re not backward ppl as Shelly and Shirley seem to think we are. Let’s be OBJECTIVE. How can we be. A Redneck is calling us Dumb, Corrupt, Lazy and Incapable Of Governing ourselves. And we should keep personal feelings out of it. HELL NO.”

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Shelley Harris gets the rebuke of Montserrat on her submission to the FAC Inquiry

No other British resident has gone this far!

Former DFID Miss Priti Patel

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In the October 19, 2018 issue of the TMR newspaper the Editorial caption read, “We cringe at what the FAC submissions must look like”. We had in our possession a copy of one of the submissions, and were seeking to obtain any others that had been made to include Government of Montserrat (GoM).

The submissions could have been made orally or written; (and we believe both if necessary). On November 7, we noted that most written ‘evidence’ submissions were published on the 6th and accessible at: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/foreign-affairs-committee/inquiries1/parliament-2017/inquiry13/publications/

Two were published on Nov 13, while oral evidence was given by our Janice Panton on Nov 12 published 06 Nov 2018 – The future of the UK Overseas Territories – oral evidence | PDF version (247 KB) HC 1464 | (Published 12 Nov 2018) along with Elise Donovan, British Virgin Islands (BVI) Government representative in the UK, and Janice Panton, Montserrat Government representative in the UK.

Janice Panton, Montserrat Government representative in the UK

On Nov 7 having been directed to the above link of the submissions, attention was drawn by a usually reliable source to a submission, by Shelley Harris husband to Nigel Harris of Montserrat Airways Ltd. owners of the airline FlyMontserrat.

The cringe was here and by the next day, the gates opened with the correspondence and the reaction of anyone Montserratian or just a friend of Montserrat.

The written submission was just over three pages long, but the contents became the subject of castigation, on Social media, radio statements, without discussion, except for ‘support’ from Speaker Shirley Osborne and distance statement from her husband Nigel on behalf of FlyMontserrat. That came in for its own criticism as well.

Mrs. Harris in the Statement in which she even denounced The Montserrat Reporter (TMR) and Radio Montserrat. “A free press would help,” she wrote. “Currently the only newspaper (TMR) hardly every(sic) ever comes out and is reduced to just republishing other agency material from off island. The Radio station is frightened to say anything anti-government and much goes unreported unless the speaker can get on air live.”

Attention was drawn to the BBC TV broadcast of the oral evidence being given https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/e2fd46fe-6270-4c04-a122-da37f8e5724a – on Tuesday 6 November 2018 Meeting started at 2.51pm, ended 4.37pm and was now being rebroadcast on the 8th.

Very quickly following the broadcast, it was noticed, former DFID Miss Priti Patel had stated: “We have also had evidence that the Montserrat Government are completely incompetence (sic) incompetent and waste enormous amounts of money, which comes from the British taxpayer!” then asked, “Is that something you think is true?” The answer was a straight “No.”

Soon after, the Committee Chairman asked Panton: “Is Montserrat sustainable as an individual territory anymore?”

Janice Panton: “I think it could be. If you look at what Montserrat as a territory has to offer…”

This one writer’s observation was directly taken from Harris’ submission. Their first reaction we received, to that and the rest, “she should be deported!” A strong feeling of disgust, suggesting, “In case anyone thought that what Shelley Harris said to the UK government could simply be ignored as the rant of an ungrateful guest in our country.  Think again.”

They cited the questions to Panton noting that Harris said in her submission: “2. Montserrat does not have a functioning government. The current one is completely incompetent and wastes enormous amounts of money – most of which comes from the British taxpayer.” The writer referenced the question (137) in the transcript from Patel as above, noting that “Panton was visibly taken aback by the ridiculous assertion and could only manage to respond; “No. That is not something I think…””

“So, there we have it; every negative word uttered by a woman whose salary is paid by Montserrat out of the mismanaged UK aid funds, is being thrown back in our face verbatim by a ranking member of the FAC… Can you imagine what else the Harris’ say to the UK government officials behind our back…” And showing more serious concern, “And who knows what other rubbish the UK officials take on board as factual,” concluding that “the matter was more serious”, than they thought at first.

There are those who suggested that Harris did not expect or realised that her submission would be publicized, believing, rightly that this was not a first that British residents have done previously and for some time.

This writer said: “When Shelly Harris wants to send secret messages to the FCO to talk about poor governance and waste of tax payers’ money, she would do well to remember that Fly Montserrat has never paid a penny in taxes into the Treasury so far in their entire existence on Montserrat, courtesy of the previous MCAP government.”

Other public comments, substantiated the writer, citing the waiver of taxes from 2009 – 2019: “S.R.O. 24 of 2014 – Exemption: Fly Montserrat Ltd. Is exempted from the payment of corporation tax for a period of five years commencing on 1st April, 2014 and terminating on 31st March, 2019.

Waiver of outstanding corporation tax: Fly Montserrat Ltd. Is granted a waiver of all outstanding tax owed before and up to 1st April, 2014.

This writer goes on to remind, that the MDC put EC$250,000 into the purchase of their 50-year-old aircraft; and, “it was the Government of Montserrat that bought the Medivac equipment for their aircraft;” and more, “They should tell everyone that they get a monthly hand out from the Access Division, yes a big fat check for EC$18,000. With no questions asked.”

No other company in Montserrat is treated so favourably… the writer states.” “Free Money! Help to buy money spinning Assets! and No Taxes!” 

“Yes, indeed Mrs Harris, what a waste of tax payers’ money.”

These questions flowed: How about the government takes your monthly hand out and uses that money in a manner that helps more people in Montserrat, rather than fund your large do-nothing salary?

 How about the FSC and Inland Revenue have a good look at your company’s accounts, which even your directors and shareholders can only take a peek at 10 minutes before your AGM, with no takeaway copies? What are you hiding? Perhaps a full audit of Fly Montserrat is in order! 

“Or better yet, how about you just leave the country?”

‘The Governor you testified is a wonderful chap. He tries to work in your interest. He calls Airport Management to smooth things.Well let me tell you one thing Mrs Fly Montserrat. You and the Governor don’t run this island. There will be never be UK Direct Rule here. Not in my lifetime.So, Thank You. Now everyone knows where you stand.”

Many questioned whether the Government would sit by without comment on the upsetting submission. It was not long before the Premier issued a statement, published in this issue for the benefit of the public. In the Statement which was also issued on radio, he said:

“While, like most, I was appalled at the tone of her unfounded accusations and ill-advised colonialistic suggestions, I must admit that I am not at all surprised.  Her statements clearly show the sort of attitudes and influences behind the scenes that have harmed and hampered Montserrat’s progress for many years.” 

Hylroy Bramble – Labour Speaks

Premier Donaldson Romeo

Visit to listen: https://montserratradioecho.wordpress.com/2018/11/14/wednesday-november-14-2018-a-statement-by-premier-hon-donaldson-romeo-regarding-shelley-harris-comments/

Also speaking out publicly. David Brandt who filed a written submission to the FAC made a statement on radio very critical of the Shelley Statement, noting that the Government is the biggest investor in the airline, while Nigel did not put in a cent (that depends).

Also, speaking out especially on the statement on labour conditions – Hylroy Bramble on his Labour Speaks program. https://montserratradioecho.wordpress.com/2018/11/14/wednesday-november-14-2018-labour-speaks-with-hylroy-bramble/

 

Visit to listen to these two: https://montserratradioecho.wordpress.com/2018/11/14/wednesday-november-14-2018-a-statement-by-david-s-brandt-regarding-shelley-harris-comments/ 

 

Reaction on Social media was also quick and one controversial but somewhat colourful commentator and observer began: “a Big RAZZAH To The Fly M/Rat Lady. Well Done. Take A Bow. All our local reverences to you.I For One Am Happy. Your written testimony to the UK Parliament Committee was outstanding. Yes I know you thought it would be secret. Or were you trying to be a whistle blower. Madame That ship has sunk like Mundo Boat. What we have here is just another ungrateful Visitor.

Yes Mrs Fly Montserrat. We bent over like gymnasts and had you ram your Chanticleer up our rears. I guess you wanted us to imbibe your bahookies too. So when we couldn’t ingest no more of your Crappola. You defamed us in your testimony to the Select Committee.

I hope at least one person chooses another service provider to get to Antigua.

If we had a Government. They could have run the Ferry seven days a week. If we had a Government they would have told you John A Osborne Airport doesn’t belong to you.

 You’re just a tenant.

The Governor you testified is a wonderful chap. He tries to work in your interest. He calls Airport Management to smooth things.

Well let me tell you one thing Mrs Fly Montserrat. You and the Governor don’t run this island. There’ll will be never be UK Direct Rule here. Not in my lifetime.

So Thank You. Now everyone knows where you stand.

But, while more outpouring of anger and disgust at Harris’ submission kept surfacing, her husband as a director on behalf of the FlyMontserrat company issued this: “Flymontserrat would like to make it clear that Statements recently made by Shelley Harris are made by her on an individual basis and not made on behalf of the company.”

This he undid or exposed the real truth and the reason why so many connected her to the company, and not believing anything he or she said afterwards: “The views made by Shelley Harris do not necessarily reflect the views of Flymontserrat.”

The situation is that her husband has expressed publicly and privately, many of the same sentiments and discontent and disagreements towards Montserrat, behaving often in a dishonest and destructive way, always in favour of the progress of his airline.

Meanwhile, Shelley issued a ‘comeback’ statement which she circulated, omitting TMR whom she had misrepresented directly in her destructive submission. That single act of exclusion on her part tells a picture that over time the public will know about. This writer and editor of TMR here takes responsibility for being in the forefront (not in that official capacity) of establishing the very name FlyMontserrat and lots more for an airline that turned out, not to be what had been envisioned and agreed before he was cast aside as one of three directors, the other having walked away from the company very soon after the ugliness exhibited in this saga of FlyMontserrat and its owners soon emerged.

ZJB radio carried a report on Shelley follow-up statement, as they may have received a copy thereof.  The report reflected some of the issues raised and explained from her submission. “The submission to the U.K. parliament to a FAC continues to attract the ire of some people both on Montserrat and in the diaspora. Shelley Harris has issued a statement in her defense.

In her submission to the FAC Mrs Harris launched what some perceived to be an attack on the people of Montserrat, its institutions (media included) and government. Among the statements thought to be provocative is a suggestion that the U.K. government should reduce the ferry service to 10 days of operation a year, productivity in the public service and the inability of the island to govern itself.

“As far as the access issue is concerned, Managing Director of Montserrat Nigel Harris distanced himself from the statement. made by his partner saying in a subsequent statement that the View made by Mrs. Harris did not necessarily reflect the views of the company.”

The report on the matter continued: Editor James White said: “Mrs. Harris in a statement on Tuesday, reveals that a submission to the F.A.C. in her own right was done without the knowledge of anyone in fly Montserrat until after the submission was made… She said she did it publicly because she believed in putting her name to her submission and not hiding behind anonymity Mrs. Harris highlights that being part of our democracy also have duties stressing that the freedom which the forefathers of Monserrat and the U.K. fought for.

(See abstracts of her statement highlighted elsewhere in this issue)

Yet, not every Montserratian agreed that the Shelley was more than offensive, as Shirley Osborne, the Hon Speaker of Montserrat’s Assembly, sprang up in her defence, or FlyMontserrat’s, exposing a natural but in our opinion, unprofessional bias.

Here is more social media reaction, some excerpts, this time to Shirley’s self-expose.

“Low and behold who was the appointed one. A black eye for St Peter’s Village. Bassie would say “a wa happun to mi pickney. A Drum Jam a real Jumbie Dance is needed To get di hex off SHIRLEY OSBORNE. It must be OBEAH not Filthy Lucre to meek shurli tun sell out.  Now me kno how dem brave boys felt on St Patrick’s Day so long ago.

Now Madame Speaker the outspoken defender of all things Montserratian. She is the one (they) chose.

Ms Osborne you claim we should be: Sensible, Strategic, Sophisticated and Objective. Is she throwing big words to fool some of us. Well The Conscience don’t have to look in no Dictionary to find out the meanings.

Let’s be SENSIBLE. Question. Is Fly M/Rat of any benefit to us? Let’s be STRATEGIC. Can we do better elsewhere? Let’s be SOPHISTICATED. We’re not backward ppl as Shelly and Shirley seem to think we are. Let’s be OBJECTIVE. How can we be. A Redneck is calling us Dumb, Corrupt, Lazy and Incapable Of Governing ourselves. And we should keep personal feelings out of it. HELL NO.”