Burt dismisses furore over planned NYC trip

  • Opposition leader David Burt (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

David Burt has remained tight-lipped over documents that provide details of a planned trip he was going to take with Zane DeSilva, Mark Pettingill and Shawn Crockwell to New York the day after Mr Crockwell was found dead.

Documents purporting to show confirmation of the quartet’s booking at the Four Seasons Hotel on June 11 this year have been widely spread online and on social media.

Asked on Tuesday afternoon why the four had booked into the same hotel on the same day, the Leader of the Opposition told The Royal Gazette: “Here’s the only thing I will state — people should be concerned, people should be very concerned, if items that are in police custody are given to the members of political campaigns.”

This newspaper asked Mr Burt a series of questions about the purpose of the trip and whether he had any business arrangements with the other three politicians, involving offshore entities.

He responded: “To address the questions about my business dealings and associates, I believe they can all be answered by a quick look at my [parliamentary] financial interests filings.

“This form was updated just last year and, as I attested when I signed it, it represents my financial interests in their entirety. There has been no change to the interests listed here.”

He provided The Royal Gazette with a copy of his entry on the Register of Members’ Interests, dated January 13, 2016.

Copies of e-mails being shared around the island via WhatsApp, Facebook and other forums include one that appears to show that the Opposition leader was due to stay at the Four Seasons on June 11.

The e-mail, addressed to independent MP Mr Crockwell, appears to be confirmation from the hotel of room bookings for four people: Mr Crockwell, Mr Burt, PLP MP Mr DeSilva and independent MP Mr Pettingill.

It lists “Mr Edward David Burt” as having a room reserved for one night, arriving on June 11, and the other three men as arriving the same day but being booked in for a two-night stay, until June 13.

An excerpt from another e-mail has also been shared on social media. It appears to have been sent from Mr DeSilva to Mr Crockwell and Mr Pettingill on June 4, with the subject: “FW: Itinerary for Zane DeSilva, Sunday, 11 June 2017.”

It said: “Guys, you OK with this or we stay and DB comes back?”

The trip to New York would have taken place two days after a motion of no confidence in the Government, brought by Mr Burt, was set to take place in Parliament.

Law firm partners Mr Crockwell and Mr Pettingill, both former One Bermuda Alliance Cabinet ministers who separately quit the party, were likely to be key to the outcome of the vote.

Mr Crockwell had stated he would vote in favour of Mr Burt’s motion, while Mr Pettingill had not revealed how he would vote.

The motion was pre-empted by Michael Dunkley, the Premier, who called a General Election before it could take place.

Mr Crockwell was found in an unresponsive state at his Hamilton Parish home on June 10, before being declared dead.

Police said there were no suspicious circumstances and his family later revealed he left a note saying his death was for health reasons.

The Royal Gazette asked Mr Pettingill and Mr DeSilva for comment but both declined.

The Bermuda Police Service responded to inquiries about the origin of the online posts by saying that “there is no evidence to suggest that they are from Mr Crockwell’s phone at this time”.

A spokesman said: “The Bermuda Police Service is aware of the images that are circulating on social media that are speculated to be pictures of messages on a phone owned by the late Shawn Crockwell MP. These images, which appear to be pictures of pictures, cannot be verified at this time.

“The origin of the images is currently being looked into by the BPS, but there is no evidence to suggest that they are actually from Mr Crockwell’s phone at this time.

“The public are encouraged to contact the Bermuda Police Service on 295-0011 or the independent and confidential Crime Stoppers hotline 800-8477 with any information they may have regarding this matter.”

When contacted by The Royal Gazette, the OBA resisted any suggestion from Mr Burt that it played a role in the dissemination of content that has made the rounds.

“This is clearly a matter for Opposition leader Burt and his colleagues to answer,” party chairwoman Lynne Woolridge said. “Our team is focused on talking with voters on the doorstep about our mission to move Bermuda forward together.”

David Burt’s entry on the Register of Members’ Interests can be found in the PDF link under “Related Media”

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