Bannister: I do not respond to “frivolous actions”

Bannister: I do not respond to “frivolous actions”
Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister.

Former BPL board members take legal action against minister

 

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Labelling the lawsuits of three former Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) board members against him as “frivolous actions”, Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister said yesterday that he does not intend to respond publicly to the legal action.

Former BPL Executive Chairman Darnell Osborne; Nicola Thompson, a former board of directors; and Roy Nick Dean, a former director and chairman of BPL’s procurement committee; filed separate writs in the Supreme Court last week and are seeking damages for wrongful dismissal, alleged misfeasance and slander.

When asked about the matter, Bannister told Eyewitness News Online, “My only response at this time is that I do not comment on litigation, especially frivolous actions.

Court documents name Bannister as the first defendant and Attorney General Carl Bethel as the second defendant.

Attorney Alfred Sears, QC, represents the former board members.

According to court documents, Osborne, Thompson and Dean are seeking damages and a declaration that Bannister, whose portfolio includes BPL, usurped and interfered with the statutory functions of the boards at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation and BPL at their exclusion as board of directors.

They are also seeking a declaration that the minister’s decision to dismiss them without reasonable cause and without affording them “procedural fairness, is unlawful, ultra vires the Electricity Act 2015 and a breach of the rules of natural justice, procedural fairness and the duty to action reasonably”.

The plaintiffs are further seeking a declaration that Banister deliberately abused and exceeded his statutory power and authority by allegedly unlawfully usurping the functions of the board; intermeddling in its affairs on the board behind the backs of the plaintiffs; issuing specific directions to the board; wrongfully and retaliatory termination “thereby committing misfeasance of public office”.

In their writs, Osborne and Dean are also seeking a declaration that Bannister made retaliatory statements intended to “disparage, embarrass and damage” their personal and professional reputations “thereby committing misfeasance of public office”.

Bannister announced the board was disbanded last August, claiming the former BPL board members locked horns on almost every critical issue at great cost to the company, which ultimately necessitated new leadership. He did not provide specifics on what those conflicts were.

Osborne, Dean and Thompson claimed refuted the claims, calling them “inaccurate and misleading”.

The former board members also said “political interference” and a “continuous disrespect” toward the executive chairpersons were at the root of the board’s dysfunction.

Osborne was appointed BPL chairperson in July 2017 and appointed executive chairperson in January 2018.