Statement by Senator Fred Mitchell
Nassau, The Bahamas
Raising A Matter of Privilege
I have received a number of inquiries from my family and from the Leader of the Opposition about a campaign of full page ads that is being run in The Tribune by a nameless, faceless group calling itself Committee Against Mitchell or Bahamians Against Mitchell. These ads have been running continuously on the back pages of The Tribune as full pages for a number of weeks since the general election. They are defamatory.
I wish to say that our investigators have determined who the author of these ads is and they are satisfied that there is no such Committee but that this is another disguise which is used by a well-known attorney to attack his political opponents.
I will formally lay over a complaint of breach of privilege in due course pursuant to the rules of the Senate and in due time.
I am satisfied that the ads are designed to injure me in my office and in my character and ultimately to silence me in my office by the use of money which cannot be matched by my private or party resources and therefore disclose a prima facie breach of privilege. I will look to the Parliament of this country for its protection. The ads have certainly caused a great deal of consternation and distress to my family and to my political colleagues.
In due course also I plan to ask a series of Parliamentary questions about an organization called Save The Bays and whether it has complied with a request by the Registrar General issued on 19 April pursuant to the Companies (Non-Profit Organizations) Regulations 2014 to disclose pursuant to Regulation 12 documents including those that detail the organization’s purpose, objective, and activities. It also requests identification of persons who control or direct the activities of the organization and any financial records that show the source of the gross annual income of the organization, explain the transactions within and outside The Bahamas and that show that the funds of the organization have been used in a manner consistent with its objective and activities.
I raise that because the ads which have appeared from this faceless Bahamians Against Mitchell committee are designed and placed in a broadly similar manner to ads which have appeared in the same newspaper tied to a number of similar organizations that ran ads during the 2017 campaign, all tied to the lawyer who is connected to Save The Bays.
It is important in my view to determine where the money trail leads and who is behind this. Indeed if I am to receive recompense it is absolutely crucial to know where the sourcing of the money is and the identity of the individuals who are seeking to defame me and injure me in my public office.
As you are aware, it is already in the public domain an allegation that significant millions of dollars were sent through the account of Callenders and Co to Fund Save The Bays and the arguments that have ensued about whether their funding has been used in manner consistent with their stated objectives.
This side insists that this is a matter of continuing public interest.
I wish also to say that in the course of a statement made to the press on 14 June Fred Smith QC told The Tribune the following with regard to the withdrawal of some litigation brought by Save The Bays in our courts:
“Fitzgerald and Mitchell were pursuing a personal vendetta against save the Bays on behalf of Nygard
And they tried to use parliamentary privilege as members of the government to abuse Save The Bays.”
That statement is a falsehood. It is also defamatory and the appropriate action will be taken with regard to it.