We’ve reported on this newscast the two letters that Senator Michael Peyrefitte wrote to the Prime Minister demanding answers relating to the business relationship Courtenay Coye LLP has with GOB. First, the UDP Chairman asked for the sum of money the Government had paid the firm, whose senior partners and Senator-Ministers Eamon Courtenay and Christopher Coye. He also asked for the permission, which the Governor General signed off on, which allow the firm to do business with Government while the firm’s senior partners sit in the Cabinet. Today, Senator Peyrefitte confirmed that he received the letter just minutes before the UDP press conference started and learned the PM responded through media reports. Peyrefitte today called the contents of the PM’s letter a red herring, open to defamation suits being filed.
Michael Peyrefitte, Chairman, UDP: “I am saying, it reveals things that are far more damaging than they would want revealed and as well the Prime Minister has put himself in a position where he will be subjected to some possible serious defamation suits. Of course, he doesn’t care because it won’t cost him. It will cost you the taxpayers of Belize and probably Courteney Coye & Co. will get hired again to defend those defamation lawsuits. He can’t just say, for example, this is how much they were paid and these are the letters giving these gentlemen permission to throw something in there that is so ridiculous in the hope that those things will grab the attention and not the answers to the questions I have asked him. Now if you believe that they’ve been paid just that then I have seafront property to sell you in Belmopan because we have credible information to tell you that that is not what they have paid.”
A part of the letter by the PM says that when Peyrefitte, the Government hired Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes, a former appellate judge. Peyrefitte called that assertion by the PM absolutely false.
Michael Peyrefitte, Chairman, UDP: “When you look at his letter to me, it is just riddled with falsehoods, just things that are just amazing that indeed this man is a sick puppy. Part of his letter, he claims that while I was Attorney General, I retained the same Douglas Mendes to work for the AG’s ministry on some cases. I mean, I don’t know what this man is smoking. That is just simply not true. When I spoke to the former Prime Minister yesterday and I said, Prime Minister am I mistaken that Mendes was not hired by the AG’s Ministry and the Government to do cases for it while I was Attorney General. Former Prime Minister said Mike I would have had to know. Dah me mi ah have to pay ah as Minister of Finance. That is simply not so. So thinking that maybe me and the Prime Minister kinda forgetful, I checked with members of the litigation team at the AG’s ministry while I was an AG and they said no, not at all. He was never retained to work for the AG’s ministry during your tenure. I mean, just to say something as basic as that that is simply not true is just absolutely amazing. Not that we would have had a difficulty hiring that particular man you know. That man was once a Court of Appeal Judge for Belize. His legal acumen is proven. It’s not an issue. But what we are saying is we would have never hired him and not known about it and forget about it.”
The letter by the PM said that law firms related to the former Prime Minister Dean Barrow and his family suggested that millions of dollars were paid to those firms. PM Barrow told us yesterday in part quote “I therefore reject the Prime Minister’s transparent effort to detract attention from the scandal now that has been exposed by Senator Michael Peyrefitte” End quote.