ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Government has failed in its bid to prove that former prime minister Lester Bird, Antigua Labour Party MP Robin Yearwood and former ALP MP Hugh Marshall Sr acted inappropriately while in public office as it relates to the purchase of Crown land at “peppercorn” prices.
The judgment, prepared by High Court Justice Jennifer Remy, was delivered yesterday morning.
Hugh Marshall Jr, one of the attorneys who represented the trio, welcomed the decision.
He recalled that some time after the United Progressive Party (UPP) took office in 2004 Attorney General Justin Simon sued the three politicians and Southern Developers Ltd – the company they directed.
They were accused of taking advantage of their positions in Cabinet to execute the purchase of 25 acres of land at Cades Bay in 1985 at $10,000 per acre.
It was argued Southern Developers immediately mortgaged the land for $1,000,000 at the now defunct Swiss American Bank.
An evaluation was done of the property and it was reportedly determined it was valued $10.8 million.
Simon subsequently argued the land was grossly undervalued; the sale was tainted with illegality and he wanted the court to return it to the Crown. He also wanted the judge to find the defendants guilty of misfeasance.
The court, Marshall Jr boasted, has however ruled otherwise and has since ordered government to pay costs to the claimants.
“Simon raised the issue of misfeasance in public office and the court found he did not establish that in the pleadings nor in the evidence. He raised the issue that they purchased the land at an under value and he was not able to establish that and he raised another misconduct which was denied,” Marshall Jr said.
According to him, none of the reliefs sought by the government, were upheld.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)