Charges re-filed against former MPs in bus probe

Harold Lovell and Wilmoth Daniel

Political Leader Harold Lovell has confirmed that police have re-filed charges against him and two other former United Progressive Party (UPP) Cabinet ministers — Wilmoth Daniel and Dr Jacqui Quinn — in relation to buses that were donated to the Government of Antigua during their tenure under the UPP administration.

The decision comes more than two years after Magistrate Conliffe Clarke dismissed the case against the trio, saying that, “the evidence was scant to say the least”.

The former MPs are facing criminal charges of corruption, fraud, larceny and embezzlement in relation to three Daewoo buses worth more than $600,000 that had been donated to the former UPP administration by the government of South Korea.

It is alleged that the trio converted the buses for their personal use and had them registered at the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board in their names while they were in public office.

However, the accused have always maintained their innocence.

A month after the case had been dismissed in the St. John’s Magistrate’s Court in 2017, an appeal was filed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Anthony Armstrong and made public in a statement from the Ministry of Legal Affairs.

And in June of 2019, the DPP won the appeal and as such the Court of Appeal sent back the criminal matter for committal proceedings before a magistrate.

The Justices of Appeal who heard the matter at the time agreed with the DPP that the magistrate did not apply the correct test to determine whether there was a case to answer.

The judges noted that Magistrate Clarke applied the “Galbraith test” instead of the test set out in the Magistrates’ Code of Procedure Act, which speaks to whether the evidence establishes or likely establishes the charge.

The judges said the test which the magistrate used was not applicable at the level of committal to send a case to the High Court for trial.