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:
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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.