Wednesday 12 August, 2020

Hanna lashes media over claims she supported negligence, cronyism

South East St Ann Member of Parliament (MP), Lisa Hanna, has described as "misleading" and "desperate journalism", media reports which have suggested that she supported a culture of negligence and cronyism in her recommendation of Government contracts in the constituency.

Hanna, through a Facebook post on Friday, asserted that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Paula Llewellyn, did not find her guilty of breaching any established procurement procedure or wilful misconduct in relation to the recommendations.

Hanna elaborated that "It's time to stop misleading and desperate journalism. The DPP ruled in July 2019: 'There was no allegation or evidence that Hanna departed from established procurement procedure, and that a prosecutor could not prove either willful misconduct or abuse of public trust."

Further, "It cannot be said that as a matter of law, the articulated justification is patently irrational," the Facebook post said, adding that breaches of procurement laws or policies were administrative ones, and therefore, outside of the DPP's remit..."

The parliamentarian was responding to a newspaper article that reported that while the DPP cleared her of any criminal charge, the island's top prosecutor chided Hanna for her support of a culture of negligence and cronyism.

The DPP's view came in response to a submission by then Contractor General, Dirk Harrison, who asked Llewelyn to determine whether Hanna should be criminally charged for her involvement in the award of a number of contracts by the then People's National Party (PNP) led St Ann Municipal  Corporation between 2011 and 2015.

The contracts were given to what the DPP reportedly labelled as PNP "cronies" in Hanna's South East St Ann constituency.

The DPP indicated that the contractor general's findings revealed “a culture of negligence and unethical management in the award of contracts developed in the St Ann Municipal Corporation, acting under the aegis of Miss Hanna.”

The DPP’s report also suggested that an impartial and fair-minded observer could legitimately form the view that the then PNP-led St Ann Municipal Corporation was being used as a vehicle through which PNP cronies were awarded CDF funds and contracts.

The execution of the awards was inadequately supervised, which potentially amounted to egregious breaches of policy guidelines, the DPP further reported.

Hanna made no mention of those aspects of the DPP's recommendations in her Facebook post.

The parliamentarian too made no mention that the DPP indicated that Joan McDonald, a former executive of Hanna's constituency office, faces the possibility of being criminally charged for making a false statement to the contractor general.

McDonald reportedly said a male member of the constituency executive told her to give a false statement to the contractor general. This was later proven to be a false statement.

The DPP, however, advised that if the police got a statement from McDonald in which she maintained her claim, then the male could be charged.

The DPP's ruling on the matter was submitted to the Integrity Commission in July 2019 but was never made public.


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