Turks and Caicos media plot thickens

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Share Share Tweetcenter_img NewsRegional Turks and Caicos media plot thickens by: – September 15, 2011 Douglas Parnell, leader of the Peoples Democratic Movement, Former Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Education, Lillian Boyce and Hayden Boyce, publisher and editor in chief of the Turks and Caicos Sun.PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands – A dispute in the Turks and Caicos Islands over the accuracy of two articles that appeared in a recent edition of the Turks and Caicos Sun newspaper may well escalate, based upon investigations by Caribbean News Now.Douglas Parnell, the leader of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), has rejected as untrue statements made by the Sun in two recent articles and threatened to take legal action for defamation.The articles in question claim that Parnell pleaded guilty to and was therefore convicted of serious charges of fraud in the United States some years ago.Following the initial publication of the articles in the Sun some three weeks ago, Parnell appeared on local television and vigorously challenged the accuracy of the Sun’s reports.“Articles in the Turks and Caicos Sun unlawfully and wrongfully state that I pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the United States and that I have been convicted of one or more criminal offences in that country. This is a complete and utter lie!” Parnell said at the time.“These statements published by the Sun are completely false and in fact I informed its editor in chief of this prior to the publication of the articles in question. He nevertheless decided to go ahead and publish the articles in reckless disregard of the truth and the tenets of responsible journalism,” he added.The Sun subsequently published a number of court documents that it claimed were evidence of the truth of its earlier reports. Caribbean News Now has since independently accessed the court records in question through the US government’s PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) website and it would seem that there is some substance to Parnell’s claim that the Sun newspaper deliberately withheld publication of documents that in fact disprove its earlier allegations.In particular, a court document dated April 3, 2008 (click here), clearly states that Parnell appeared with his counsel, and entered a not guilty plea, thus contradicting the Sun’s claim that he pleaded guilty. Given that the newspaper also has access to the full court record, it is not known why it chose to ignore this apparently critical document.A later document dated March 5, 2010 (click here), is an order of the court dismissing the charges against Parnell “with prejudice” upon the motion of the United States Attorney. The term “with prejudice” means that the charges can never be refiled by the government.Again, given that the Sun must have had access to this document contradicting its earlier claims that Parnell was convicted of the offences in question, it is not known why the newspaper chose to ignore its existence in its subsequent publication.The Sun did, however, elect to publish a list of persons to whom restitution was paid, notwithstanding an order by the US District Court in New York that the list be sealed. No response has yet been received to an email sent by Caribbean News Now to the court asking for its comments on the implications of this.The after-hours number given on the Sun’s website is apparently out of service. Any response to a subsequent emailed request for comment will be published in a later story.Parnell’s attorney, Wendal Swann, confirmed that Parnell is considering starting legal action against the publishers of the Sun. Swann says he sent a letter to the publishers pointing out the libellous nature of certain of the statements made in the articles appearing in the newspaper. Publisher and editor in chief of the newspaper, Hayden Boyce, acknowledged receipt of Swann’s letter in the subsequent publication, and described him as “a rookie lawyer” but, according to Swann, provided no reply. “Readers must question the motive behind the publication of only a selection of the court documents, when they had access to the documents proving the statements about ‘crime’ and ‘conviction’ were simply not true,” Swann said.According to some local observers, the articles about Parnell, which now turn out to be of questionable accuracy, may be politically motivated in that Boyce is the husband of former Progressive National Party (PNP) cabinet minister and deputy premier Lillian Boyce who, according to corporate records obtained by Caribbean News Now, is also a 50 percent shareholder of the company that purportedly publishes the Sun.The final report of the 2009 Commission of Inquiry into possible corruption, or other serious dishonesty in relation to past and present elected members of the TCI legislature recommended a criminal investigation in relation to Lillian Boyce of possible corruption and/or other serious dishonesty including misfeasance in public office in relation to the following matters:— Boyce participated in a possibly corrupt transaction in relation to the sale (flipping) of Crown Land by: 1) accepting the proceeds of profits made by her brother, Earlson Robinson, from the sale of a share in the interest of a company, which had involved the disposal of Crown Land for large profits to an overseas developer, David Wex; 2) loaning or giving part of those profits to Misick, or assisting her brother in doing so; and 3) failing to declare those profits to the Registrar of Interests or to disclose them Commission, and failing to declare her brother’s connection to the transaction in Cabinet discussions concerning the transaction.Other findings by the Commission in relation to Boyce in respect of which no recommendations were made are as follows:— Boyce failed to declare to the Registrar of Interests, or initially to the Commission, her receipt of payments of Candidates’ Stipend, totalling $72,000.— Boyce abused her ministerial position by: 1) assisting or permitting her fellow Cabinet Ministers, specifically Michael Misick and Floyd Hall, to interfere in and override the Scholarships Policy for nominating according to set criteria, in particular merit, candidates for overseas scholarships, thereby by-passing the control of the Scholarships Committee; and 2) granting a scholarship to her own daughter without referring her candidature to the Scholarships Committee for scrutiny.The Sun’s attack on Parnell is widely perceived to be an attempt to deflect attention from the criminal investigations of Lillian Boyce and other former Cabinet ministers.Caribbean News Now 112 Views   no discussionslast_img

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