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Supreme Court hands down large award for former PM after GOB’s Commission of Inquiry

One hundred and eighty-five thousand dollars: that’s the quantum of damages awarded to former Prime Minister Dean Barrow. Supreme Court Justice Lisa Shoman handed down the ruling this morning after Barrow’s attorney, Naima Barrow successfully argued that the findings of the Andrew Marshalleck-led Commission of Inquiry denied the former Finance Minister’s right to natural justice. He was awarded 125 thousand dollars for compensatory damages plus another 60 thousand for vindicatory damages. The Commission was empanelled by the Briceno administration to investigate what has been described as a fire sale of Government assets during the Barrow administration. Love News spoke to the former PM, who expressed satisfaction with the ruling. 

Dean Barrow, Former Prime Minister of Belize: “I’m very pleased. I’m happy with the award. I am grateful to my niece, Naima Barrow, who was my Counsel and who went up against two top tier Senior Counsel, Godfrey Smith and Douglas Mendez, and did very well indeed. So, altogether I am really pleased. They were so egregious because the fact is the Commission was chaired by Mr. Marshalleck who is a senior attorney, somebody of long standing, currently the President of the Bar, a position he has held before now and so because of his chairmanship, because, as well, the Commission would have been able to draw on additional legal sources for advice, it is hard to understand how the Commission could have gone so terribly wrong and I said to your colleague when he spoke to me the other day that I believe that it’s a mixture of incompetence and malice and I suspect that the malice is even more prominent than the incompetence but it was a case of my feeling personally wronged but, also, as a lawyer, as an ex public official, it struck me that this is the sort of thing that cannot be countenanced.”

Barrow went on to explain that in principle, he has no problem with an inquiry into government activities or programs, but the former PM says that the fact-finding mission must be without malice and ill intent. 

Dean Barrow, Former Prime Minister of Belize: “There’s nothing wrong with the Government appointing a Commission of Inquiry but, my God man, you must do so in the interests of the public because you want to get at the truth, you want to shine a light on anything that might have gone wrong in the administration of the country by the then Executive and those are all absolutely noble objectives. You can’t set up a Commission of Inquiry though because you have as an ulterior motive, or perhaps as your predominant motive, the need, the requirement to find fault and to say the most wounding, damaging things about your former and current political opponents. That sort of motivation taints the thing terribly. It puts an ineradicable stain on the Commission. You can’t, you can’t erase that at all and the circumstances of the manner in which this Commission proceeded, and the findings that they made, and the way they expressed those findings all came together to make clear that in effect it operated as little better than a kangaroo court. That absolutely will not do.”