Jamaica DPP rules that Government minister should not be charged for no-movement day party

MINISTER without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister Floyd Green will not face criminal charges for his alleged participation in a birthday party on a no-movement day last September.

Green, the Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth South Western, walked away from the Cabinet, where he was serving as the minister of agriculture, amidst public outrage after a video surfaced with him at a birthday party, which was reportedly staged for his personal assistant, Gabriel Hylton.

He was returned to the Cabinet by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in a recent shuffle and given the portfolio responsibility for the National Identification System despite the possibility that he could be charged for breaching the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) for his presence at the party on a no-movement day.

But yesterday news came that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) has told the police that it has found no basis to charge Green and others who were allegedly at the party, including councillor for the Mona Division in St Andrew Eastern Andrew Bellamy.

It is understood that the ODPP told the Jamaica Constabulary Force of its decision last Friday.

According to Jamaica Observer sources, the case file submitted to the ODPP by the police included a video purportedly from the party but the island’s chief prosecutor ruled that a viable prosecution would be difficult as there were no statements from the employees of the New Kingston-based hotel.

It is understood that the ODPP also found that Green and Bellamy were exempt from the no-movement day, based on the provisions of the DRMA.

Observer sources say the ODPP has also told the police that they may consider bringing charges against the management of the hotel for hosting the party but made it clear that this would need additional statements for a successful prosecution.

Green, after a video of the Moët Champagne party went public, offered his resignation to the prime minister.

“Today, I have disappointed so many; my family, including my son, my prime minister and most importantly, the people of Jamaica who I have sworn to serve.

“No matter how briefly, and regardless of the circumstances, I should never have participated in any engagement that could indicate a lack of appreciation of the difficult and serious realities that now face the entire country,” said Green, in his resignation letter released to the media.

“My actions have demonstrated a lack of sensitivity for the difficult realities that all of us are facing currently.

“It was wrong. I accept that this was an error in judgement and that it sends the wrong signal, especially in light of the Government’s drive to reduce the spread of COVID-19. For this I am really and truly very sorry,” added Green.

His presence at the party was condemned by the parliamentary Opposition and civil society, but several Jamaicans, included his constituents, called for his return to the Cabinet.

Their wish was granted earlier this month when Prime Minister Holness returned the young lawyer to the Executive in a Cabinet shuffle.

After his return, he said: “I feel grateful because I have been given another opportunity to serve at this level. I think it is a real honour and a humbling experience… to be a part of the discussions that help determine the future of the country and especially at this time, so I am very grateful… I am grateful and humbled by the confidence the prime minister has placed in me to give me another opportunity at this level.”

He constituents were also happy to see him back.

David “Folby” Folb, an Englishman who owns and operates the Lashings Boutique Hotel and Villas in Treasure Beach, said Green’s recall to the Cabinet was a sensible move.

“I’m not surprised; this is an outstanding, hard-working MP. I think Jamaica is a better place for people like him,” he said.

“Jamaica has got a first-class MP and minister. We are extremely lucky in this area to have him,” he added.

Opposition Senator Donna Scott Mottley, however, said she was disappointed with the way Green’s return to the Cabinet was handled by Prime Minister Holness.

“There are several people in the Government who are well liked and admired on both sides, and I don’t take any issue with his return to the Cabinet. I believe that he was doing a very good job in the position he held, but what is concerning to me is how the issue has been handled,” Scott Mottley, the deputy leader of Opposition business in the Senate, told the Upper House.

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