Timothy Harris, the prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis, sent the following statement to WIC News regarding the Peter Virdee case that has caused ripples through politics in the federation, as well as Antigua and Barbuda.
In it, Harris thanked this news outlet for the “opportunity to set the record straight” on the matter.
The individuals before the court were Peter Virdee and Dieter Trutschler and in paragraph 86, the judges emphasised “that the claimants deny any wrongdoing, and that nothing we say in this judgment is a final adjudication on the precise meaning of the transcripts.” The Judgement also very clearly sets out on page 3 point 4, that Virdee’s and Trutschler’s business interests with regards to St Kitts started in 2014, well over a year before I was elected. The judges could therefore legitimately have been thinking of my predecessor.
In addition page 3 clearly states “There is no evidence before the court that any contract was concluded with St Kitts”
And paragraph 68 iii page 39 which quotes “As to St Kitts, the summary referred to a “planned contract”, which was accurate. None of the judges was told that a contract had actually been executed in relation to St Kitts.”
I can assure you and the people of St Kitts and Nevis that since coming into government, my emphasis has always been on transparency and good governance. We believe in those values so passionately that our government is the only administration to have acted so decisively on these matters. In this regard we have moved to bring legislation to deal with freedom of information and data protection and we have moved to operationalise integrity in public life that lay dormant under the past regime.
The Freedom of Information Bill was passed last month and it enables the maximum disclosure of information in the public interest, to guarantee the right of everyone to access to information, to provide for effective mechanisms to secure that right and for related matters.
This is not something one does lightly. We can see that the law is not something that you pay lip service to. When you break the law it becomes a criminal offence.
I believe it was the right thing for us to do in order to eradicate the bad reputation that the previous administration blighted the country with. We are on a mission to rebuild this country’s reputation and to put in place legislation that creates the right foundation for this to happen.
As a consequence we are already reaping the rewards when external independent organisations rate St Kitts and Nevis as one the best performing countries for good governance.
According to the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2017 to 2018, St Kitts and Nevis is recognised as among the least corrupt countries in the world with the best adherence to the rule of law. St Kitts and Nevis therefore is leading on the good governance and transparency agenda.