by STAFF WRITER
February 1, 2022
CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Feb 1, CMC – The main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) Tuesday criticised Prime Minister Phillip J Pierre for calling on the country to move on from the so-called “Rovergate” controversy and saying “we have so many important things to do”.
In a statement, the UWP said that it is nothing short of inappropriate for Prime Minister Pierre to insist that the people of St. Lucia to “ignore the serious implications which the actions in Rovergate have for our country.
“This case has not been resolved in the courts as Pierre wants the people to believe; rather it has been withdrawn,” the party said.
The UWP has in the past criticised the decision of the authorities to withdraw a case against the Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Ernest Hilarire, arising out of the purchase of a vehicle while he served as the island’s High Commissioner to Britain.
On November 12, 2020, acting on directives from then Comptroller of Customs, Peter Chiquot, and armed with a warrant, Customs officers went to Hilaire’s residence in the north of the island and took away the Land Rover Sport SUV, on the basis that there were several irregularities with the importation of the vehicle.
But in December last year, it was disclosed that following mediation with Customs, it was agreed that all charges against the Castries South legislator would be dropped.
Pierre told reporters it is time now for “Rovergate” to become an issue of the past.
“We have so many important things to do. We are in the process of preparing the budget – we are just getting the budget together. We are dealing with certain issues. We are dealing with what was left behind by the opposition leader when he was minister of finance, the high debt etc.,” said Pierre.
“So I don’t really have any time to listen to what he says particularly when I know what is being said has no truth and it is just coming from people who have not understood that the democratic process is over,” he added.
Pierre called on all St. Lucians to work together to benefit the country, saying “the matter relating to Ernest Hilaire has been dealt with by the courts.
“It started at the courts. It went to mediation. Mediation sent it back to the courts and as far as I am concerned in spite of all the misconceptions and what’s going on about my involvement – in fact, I never went to court for the hearing. That wasn’t true. I went after, but that doesn’t matter.
“What I am saying is I think it is time for us to move on. The matter has been decided. We have some very serious issues to deal with. We are talking about going to the CCJ (Caribbean Court of Justice) where these issues have to be spoken about. So I don’t want to get involved in this back and forth, in these dealings by a set of men and women who have not understood that democracy has taken place,” Pierre said.
But in its statement, the UWP said it wanted Prime Minister Pierre to answer two very pertinent
Questions, namely who authorized the Range Rover to be registered in the name of St. Lucia and who authorized, and by what mechanism, was the Range Rover transferred out of the name of the State to Ernest Hilaire?
The party said that the presence of Prime Minister Pierre and the Lucia and Speaker of the
House of Parliament, Claudius Francis, in the courthouse during the case “are of grave concern.
“It is actions like this which undermine the confidence of the People and cause them to fear political interference in having the CCJ as our final court of appeal,” the Opposition party added.