After a wait of nearly four weeks, Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Shannon Jones-Gittens has replied to the United Progressive Party’s request for an investigation into boasts made by Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
In a letter dated May 24, 2023, but received on Wednesday, May 31, Jones-Gittens blurs the issue by referring to Browne’s declarations – made before a viewing and listening radio audience – as “allegedly made” and “purported statements.”
Jones-Gittens consigns Browne’s statements to the realm of fabrication although the Party’s letter included a transcription of the prime minister’s actual words.
Further, the Party offered to submit to her the audio recording of Browne’s statements, made on April 15, 2023, during the Browne & Browne Show.
“I didn’t transfer people into my constituency, you know. We transfer (sic) out to help other candidates, or left others who were registered outside of my area; left them in those areas rather than transfer them in, to give others a better chance.”
Those are the words of Prime Minister Browne.
“Given the seriousness of his statements, we strongly and respectfully urge that your office investigate this matter,” the Party wrote to the Acting DPP, citing the section of the Representation of the People Act that allows her to do so.
Section 82 (1) of the legislation provides that:
“Where information is given to the Director of Public Prosecutions that any corrupt or illegal practice has occurred in reference to any election, it shall be his duty to make such inquiries or cause to be made inquiries therein and institute such prosecutions as the circumstances of the case appear to him to require.”
Nevertheless, Jones-Gittens claims that “without more” than the remarks the Party brough to her attention, she “cannot properly ground a request for a criminal investigation.”
She then invites the Party to submit “any other substantial and credible information to properly found an allegation.”
Earlier requests and appeals for an investigation into Prime Minister Browne’s statements have been similarly snubbed by outgoing Supervisor of Elections Dame Lorna Simon, while the Electoral Commission has virtually ignored the matter.
‘There appears to be a conspiracy – and a dereliction of duty – among the agencies that are to provide the checks and balances in this democracy,” the Party Leadership says, “and the UPP will be taking its cues accordingly.”