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ZJB asked to apologise over aired Statement

Brandt stands ready to support Freedom of Expression

by Bennette Roach

The fallout from a Statement by Former Chief Minister and legislator from 1983 – 2001 and again from 2006 – 2009, Attorney at Law David Brandt, has created much ado, reactions and a call for apologies from the Government radio station ZJB’s manager.

Lawyer Brandt, often referred to as the “people’s man’ issued a Statement which he voiced on ZJB radio on October 26, 2010. He began the statement by reminding: “when I did not run for the last election I said that I would not comment publicly on any matter of public concern but something has been brought to my attention and as a Montserra

Attorney General James Wood and Attorney David Brandt

tian I believe it is my duty to comment on it.”

He revealed that following the visit of a police advisor, “Mr. Steve Foster (Commissioner of Police) will be removed as Commissioner and that Mr. Paul Morris (Deputy Commissioner of Police) will take his place.”

He noted in his statement, “Mr. Paul Morris came from England I am told, at the rank of sergeant and as an advisor for community policing. He quickly rose to the rank of Deputy Commissioner, passing all the inspectors and all the other officers in the rank.”

He noted that the Governor is “responsible for the police force. “The question arises,” he continued, “in this day and age should we have a white governor, a white attorney general and a white commissioner of police after 44 years!”

He contended, “if Mr. Foster is not performing then advertise the post and if we cannot get a local to fill the post get a person from the region that understands us.”
He went on to refer to the Attorney General’s position in relation to other members on his staff who are Montserratians and their roles, none of whom are allowed to act in his absence, or promoted to positions available above that they hold.

Governor Waterworth and Deputy Governor Sarita Francis

It is reported that complaints, which have not been publicised, but have come to the attention of TMR that HE Governor Waterworth has sought an apology from the ZJB Manager,  following letters written to the Chief Minister by the Hon. Attorney General James Wood where commented on the procedure dealing with paid statements aired on ZJB. “If the manager is of the view that it could contain something that would have a legal effect, the statement is to be referred to the Legal Department for advice,” he wrote. He had earlier with reference to the seemingly offending statement wrote: “Whilst the Government has a positive duty to ensure that statements made on radio are based on factual assertions, I can find no law that allows the transmission of such a statement to be stopped.” That was on October 26.

But in his letter of November 11, 2010, he recommended to the Chief Minister, “Until such time as this structure (a proper regulatory process) is in place, I would advise that no further ‘paid statements’ are accepted. In fact, it matters not whether ‘payment’ is requested, or made. The restriction should be put on members of the public independently preparing a statement with a view to it being transmitted. Again, I am not of the view that this interferes with a constitutional freedom of expression. ZJB offers this service as a way in which accurate information and views can be supplied to the general public. It is clear that this service is now becoming abused.

I would suggest further, that ZJB announces the fact that a new regulatory structure is being developed and that until it is in place, it will not be able to accept any independent statements for broadcast. “

In the meantime sources have confirmed that the Manager had been asked to apologise for allowing what is considered to be slanderous and racist statements to be aired on the radio station. These are supposed to have been references as, “a number of factual errors and unpleasant, derogatory comments,” in Mr. Brandt’s statement, as the Attorney General has referred to.

Mr. Brandt reacted to this news by submitting a brief statement which said in part: “This means, no death announcements, no advertisements whatsoever and no publications of any opinions whatsoever.  This is a serious breach of freedom of expression and it undermines the principles of good governance and transparency.

I do not believe that the Chief Minister, under whom Radio Montserrat falls, could have countenanced this egregious action. If it is allowed to be enforced I will have no alternative but to hold mass rallies all over the island, inviting Montserratians at home and abroad to participate.”

Amidst all this the Chief Minister who is presently away at meetings with HMG in the UK has expressed hesitancy on preventing Statements to be aired on the radio station he has direct responsibility for. “…he has been instructed to seek legal advice prior to paid statements going on air. However, I will not at this time refuse all paid statements on ZJB,” the CM has told his advisors.

However, since his statement has not been aired, Brandt further wrote to the Permanent Secretary in the Chief Minister’s Office protesting the action of the Governor and the Attorney General. He said, “Radio Montserrat falls under the portfolio of the Hon. Chief Minister and neither the Governor nor the Attorney General by themselves could prevent any publication being made on Radio Montserrat unless it offends the provision in the Constitution which deals with freedom of expression.  The publication which I delivered to Radio Montserrat on Monday is not repugnant to that provision.”

This letter is copied to all Ministers, the Governor, Attorney General and the Montserrat Desk at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It is Brandt also seeks answers in that most recent letter “Whether you have knowledge of the fact that the Attorney General wrote to order or otherwise, to stop all paid publications on Radio Montserrat? Did the Attorney General write at all concerning the subject of paid publications and if so what did he write? And, an explanation, “ why my publication has not been made and when will it be made.” He concluded, “As always I stand ready to pay for it.”

Since that October 26 Statement by Brandt, sources have also stated Commissioner Steve Foster remains in his position and no changes have been effected. However, the situation is still being reviewed and actions which might see the Commissioner promoted to a new position in due course.

The ZJB manager has not yet apologised to the best of our knowledge, and neither the Chief Minister nor those acting in his stead are insisting on any such action.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Brandt stands ready to support Freedom of Expression

by Bennette Roach

The fallout from a Statement by Former Chief Minister and legislator from 1983 – 2001 and again from 2006 – 2009, Attorney at Law David Brandt, has created much ado, reactions and a call for apologies from the Government radio station ZJB’s manager.

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Lawyer Brandt, often referred to as the “people’s man’ issued a Statement which he voiced on ZJB radio on October 26, 2010. He began the statement by reminding: “when I did not run for the last election I said that I would not comment publicly on any matter of public concern but something has been brought to my attention and as a Montserra

Attorney General James Wood and Attorney David Brandt

tian I believe it is my duty to comment on it.”

He revealed that following the visit of a police advisor, “Mr. Steve Foster (Commissioner of Police) will be removed as Commissioner and that Mr. Paul Morris (Deputy Commissioner of Police) will take his place.”

He noted in his statement, “Mr. Paul Morris came from England I am told, at the rank of sergeant and as an advisor for community policing. He quickly rose to the rank of Deputy Commissioner, passing all the inspectors and all the other officers in the rank.”

He noted that the Governor is “responsible for the police force. “The question arises,” he continued, “in this day and age should we have a white governor, a white attorney general and a white commissioner of police after 44 years!”

He contended, “if Mr. Foster is not performing then advertise the post and if we cannot get a local to fill the post get a person from the region that understands us.”
He went on to refer to the Attorney General’s position in relation to other members on his staff who are Montserratians and their roles, none of whom are allowed to act in his absence, or promoted to positions available above that they hold.

Governor Waterworth and Deputy Governor Sarita Francis

It is reported that complaints, which have not been publicised, but have come to the attention of TMR that HE Governor Waterworth has sought an apology from the ZJB Manager,  following letters written to the Chief Minister by the Hon. Attorney General James Wood where commented on the procedure dealing with paid statements aired on ZJB. “If the manager is of the view that it could contain something that would have a legal effect, the statement is to be referred to the Legal Department for advice,” he wrote. He had earlier with reference to the seemingly offending statement wrote: “Whilst the Government has a positive duty to ensure that statements made on radio are based on factual assertions, I can find no law that allows the transmission of such a statement to be stopped.” That was on October 26.

But in his letter of November 11, 2010, he recommended to the Chief Minister, “Until such time as this structure (a proper regulatory process) is in place, I would advise that no further ‘paid statements’ are accepted. In fact, it matters not whether ‘payment’ is requested, or made. The restriction should be put on members of the public independently preparing a statement with a view to it being transmitted. Again, I am not of the view that this interferes with a constitutional freedom of expression. ZJB offers this service as a way in which accurate information and views can be supplied to the general public. It is clear that this service is now becoming abused.

I would suggest further, that ZJB announces the fact that a new regulatory structure is being developed and that until it is in place, it will not be able to accept any independent statements for broadcast. “

In the meantime sources have confirmed that the Manager had been asked to apologise for allowing what is considered to be slanderous and racist statements to be aired on the radio station. These are supposed to have been references as, “a number of factual errors and unpleasant, derogatory comments,” in Mr. Brandt’s statement, as the Attorney General has referred to.

Mr. Brandt reacted to this news by submitting a brief statement which said in part: “This means, no death announcements, no advertisements whatsoever and no publications of any opinions whatsoever.  This is a serious breach of freedom of expression and it undermines the principles of good governance and transparency.

I do not believe that the Chief Minister, under whom Radio Montserrat falls, could have countenanced this egregious action. If it is allowed to be enforced I will have no alternative but to hold mass rallies all over the island, inviting Montserratians at home and abroad to participate.”

Amidst all this the Chief Minister who is presently away at meetings with HMG in the UK has expressed hesitancy on preventing Statements to be aired on the radio station he has direct responsibility for. “…he has been instructed to seek legal advice prior to paid statements going on air. However, I will not at this time refuse all paid statements on ZJB,” the CM has told his advisors.

However, since his statement has not been aired, Brandt further wrote to the Permanent Secretary in the Chief Minister’s Office protesting the action of the Governor and the Attorney General. He said, “Radio Montserrat falls under the portfolio of the Hon. Chief Minister and neither the Governor nor the Attorney General by themselves could prevent any publication being made on Radio Montserrat unless it offends the provision in the Constitution which deals with freedom of expression.  The publication which I delivered to Radio Montserrat on Monday is not repugnant to that provision.”

This letter is copied to all Ministers, the Governor, Attorney General and the Montserrat Desk at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It is Brandt also seeks answers in that most recent letter “Whether you have knowledge of the fact that the Attorney General wrote to order or otherwise, to stop all paid publications on Radio Montserrat? Did the Attorney General write at all concerning the subject of paid publications and if so what did he write? And, an explanation, “ why my publication has not been made and when will it be made.” He concluded, “As always I stand ready to pay for it.”

Since that October 26 Statement by Brandt, sources have also stated Commissioner Steve Foster remains in his position and no changes have been effected. However, the situation is still being reviewed and actions which might see the Commissioner promoted to a new position in due course.

The ZJB manager has not yet apologised to the best of our knowledge, and neither the Chief Minister nor those acting in his stead are insisting on any such action.