This evening, our Daniel Ortiz got a chance to ask Barrow about these astronomical awards of damages that both he and Patt are claiming against the Government - and by extension you, the taxpayers. Here's his explanation for Patt's claim:

Dean Barrow - Attorney For Hugo Patt
"If you can establish your entitlement, you are then able to attract an award for both limbs, for compensation for the injury to your feelings, the damage to your reputation and as well, vindicatory - two reasons. If the manner in which your reputation was savaged is particularly brutal, is particularly egregious, and is particularly outrageous, then you can ask for an additional award, over and above what you get for compensation. And also, if the position is that the Commission did treat you in such a clear, patently, flagrantly unfair manner, you can ask for that additional award by way of vindicatory or damages to deter future commissions from ever making that kind of mistake or error again. [It's] common knowledge. It's there in the report. It's all going to be struck [out] now, though. But it's there, basically that he was a money launderer, secondly, that he was running a corrupt scheme at the lands department when he was minister, by virtue of which he was giving people national lands for an undervalue in return for kickbacks -outrageous. More than that, though, the commission not only didn't give him an opportunity to address those sorts of allegations. The commission used extraneous material."

We also asked him about his claim for 450 thousand dollars:

Daniel Ortiz
"You and her - as Claimant and she as your representative, your attorney are claiming $450,000. That's a hefty pound of flesh you're extracting, sir."

Dean Barrow - Former Prime Minister/Claimant
"[Laughs] Well, well, well... I am in the hands of my attorney, and my attorney assessed the entire case, and she felt that was the appropriate amount for which to ask. I don't think I can take it beyond that."

Daniel Ortiz
"The general public, the Belizeans, is losing three times. First, there is this suggestion that the vehicle fleet for the government wasn't properly managed, and it may have been the subject of political graft. Then, we paid for the Commission and all its expenses. And then, now, we're at risk of paying damages because of the actions of the Commission."

Dean Barrow
"I agree. I agree. Take the last two. The amount spent on that commission is a bill that has already come due and been paid by the people of this country. It was always clear that with the Commission of Inquiry, there will be expenses. Should that not have on the line to the Prime Minister the need for him to proceed with absolute care so that he could get the appointment and the terms and conditions of the Commission absolutely correct? Should that not have warned Mr. Marshalleck who was a senior lawyer - one-time president of the Bar, he may be president again, for all I know - that there was a need to proceed with exquisite care? They both failed. So, it is costing the Belizean people. But that cost is a consequence of their being so terribly wrong. With respect to having to pay damages, whatever the quantum is, again, entirely their fault in terms of whether there was mismanagement with regard to the vehicle fleet, if charges are being leveled at the vehicle care unit, I'm not going to accept that those charges are valid. I am not saying that everything there was perfect. But again, then if a proper commission had been appointed and had conducted its inquiry fairly, that would have come out without the chance of anybody being able to gainsay it. It was all sent to Hades as a consequence of the seminal error in judgment on the part of the Prime Minister, who should have been better advised. And, as a result of the manifold ways in which Marshalleck, as chairman, and the other two members of the Commission all went so horribly wrong. They are the ones that the taxpayers will have to blame for this huge bill with which they clearly are being saddled."

Former PM Barrow Asks For Almost Half A Million In Damages From Marshalleck Commission

Last night, we told you about the opening arguments in the lawsuits that the UDP's Hugo Patt and Former Prime Minister Dean Barrow have brought against the Briceno Government and the Commission of Inquiry.

Both Patt and Barrow have gone to the Supreme Court to complain against the Commission. They point to what they believe were fatal missteps in the procedure, which have resulted in the violation of their rights to natural justice.

Yesterday was all about Patt and Barrow making their case to Justice Lisa Shoman about how the Commission went about making adverse findings against them and published a final report without allowing them to defend their reputation and integrity.

Justice Shoman has already granted certain declarations and orders that are favorable to Hugo Patt's case. All parties accept that the Commission didn't send him what is known as a "Salmon Letter". That letter would have disclosed certain documents, and it would have allowed him the opportunity to respond to their findings against him. She also granted an order which quashed those parts of the Report from the Commission that injured Patt's reputation and integrity. Those sections will now be redacted.

Today's continuation of the trial was focused on the how much the former Prime Minister and former Deputy Prime Minister should receive in damages.

On Patt's behalf, Dean Barrow submitted that his compensatory award for damages ought to be in the region of $100,000 dollars.

He also asked the judge to grant an additional award for vindicatory damages to Patt, which could go as high as $200,000. Barrow argued that the misconduct of the Commission of Inquiry resulted in conclusions that represented accusations - if not charges - of money laundering and corruption in public life in the sale of lands. He urged the judge that an additional award is required to vindicate Patt's rights.

Naima Barrow was then allowed to make submissions on Dean Barrow's behalf that his award of damages against the Government of Belize should be as high as $450 thousand dollars! Ms Barrow told the court that the Commission's indictment of Former PM Barrow was far more extensive and that the court must be mindful of the public reputation he had prior to the publishing of the Commission's report.

Senior Counsel Douglas Mendez responded to these claims for damages on behalf of the Government of Belize. He stressed that the court should take a far more measured approach.

Additionally, Mendez urged the judge that additional vindicatory damages are not automatic and that the court should focus on the distress and inconvenience caused, and not whether or not what was said was true.

Mendez also submitted that the claimants could have strengthened their case for a bigger sum of damages if they provided evidence that the Commission of Inquiry's accusations were false, but in this case, they did not.

The case has been argued to completion, and Justice Lisa Shoman has indicated to the litigants that she intends to deliver very soon after the Easter break.

Channel 7