No charges in judicial interference case, says Bahamas AG
Nassau, Bahamas — Bahamas Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson on Friday announced that no one will face criminal charges over Agriculture Minister Alfred Gray’s alleged interference in a judicial matter due to what she called the “conflicting nature of the evidence”.
“Upon a careful and complete review of the file and after consultation with senior prosecutors and other senior legal officials within the Office of the Attorney General, it was determined that in the circumstances of the conflicting nature of the evidence, it is not desirable to institute criminal proceedings against any person before any court in respect of any offence against the law of The Bahamas,” said Maynard-Gibson in a statement.
“While it may be tempting to draw conclusions from allegations reported (second hand) in the media, it is important at all times that evidence guides the decision making process.
“This is especially important to preserve fairness and the integrity of all trial proceedings.”
In order to “reduce the opportunity for such allegations in the future and protect the integrity of the system”, the attorney general has recommended to Chief Justice Hartman Longley that stipendiary and circuit magistrates increase their circuit work.
Gray has been under the spotlight since it was alleged he interfered after Mayaguana Administrator Zephaniah Newbold, acting in his capacity as a local magistrate, convicted Jaquan Charlton, 19, on March 19 of assault and resisting arrest, and sentenced him on the spot to three months in prison.
Following a recent police probe at the request of the attorney general, Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade forwarded the findings to the attorney general on April 20.
Maynard-Gibson said the investigation was “comprehensive, full, fair and impartial”
On March 25, Prime Minister Perry Christie said Gray had invited him to relieve him on his local government portfolio.
It remains to be seen whether local government will be added back to his portfolio.
The opposition Free National Movement has repeatedly called on Gray to resign or be fired from Cabinet.
In a letter to Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt addressed March 19, the same day Charlton was convicted, Newbold said he released Charlton out of “fear and trepidation” after being threatened by Gray.
But in an affidavit obtained by The Nassau Guardian, Gray denied this and said he sought to “assist” in the matter “from a purely humanitarian perspective”.
Gray said he was only seeking to prevent any permanent damage to the arm of Charlton, who is one of his constituents.
While he said in an interview with The Guardian on March 20 – a day after the court matter – that he did not remember who initiated the call, Gray acknowledged in his affidavit that he called the administrator twice.
Last month, Gray said, “I’m going to wait and I’ll have the last say on the matter.”