Former Gros Islet MP Lenard ‘Spider’ Montoute has expressed concern over ‘witch hunts’ while calling out Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre over Sunday’s announcement that the Robert Linquist probe into a 2009 Hewanorra International Airport (HIA) contract will resume.
In his New Year address on Sunday, Pierre disclosed that the move was consistent with the pledge to pursue good governance and anti-corruption policies.
But at a news conference on Thursday, Lenard Montoute urged the Prime Minister to practice what he preaches and ‘live the message’.
He recalled that in his New Year address, Pierre indicated that crime included peddling untruths and condemned deliberate lying by public officials.
Nevertheless, Montoute asserted that the Prime Minister proceeded to be dishonest in the same national address.
Pierre told the nation that Robert Lindquist was first retained in 2012 by the Government of Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony to conduct the HIA redevelopment contract probe.
‘The investigation was stopped in 2016, as the UWP administration which came into office that year, did not authorise its continuation,” Pierre stated.
However, Lenard Montoute disclosed that, on the contrary, Robert Linquist, in his December 7, 2020, letter stated the reason for the stoppage.
The former MP asserted that Pierre has access to the letter and can refer to it if he desires.
“Mr. Linquist in that letter indicated – and I quote: ‘ Please note that whilst in the midst of this investigation, the former Prime Minister (referring to former Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony) announced the 2016 elections of which I had no advance knowledge, which resulted in a halt in my work’,” Montoute told Thursday’s news conference.
The former Gros Islet MP recalled that the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) government, under the leadership of then Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony commissioned the Linquist investigation in 2012.
“That gave them more than four years before the 2016 elections,” Montoute explained.
He noted that when the UWP assumed office in 2016, it had no clue regarding the probe.
“No one informed us officially that this was in progress and the Prime Minister and the cabinet of the United Workers Party became aware when there was a payment that was made to Mr. Robert Linquist,” Montoute told reporters.
“The Prime Minister as you would appreciate who also holds the portfolio of finance was not made aware of those procedings and when he inquired, he was told that he was not informed because he was one of the subjects of the investigation,” the former Gros Islet MP revealed.
He said other subjects of the investigation were former Prime Minister Stephenson King and current Castries Central MP Richard Frederick, both of whom are in the SLP cabinet, in addition to former Ministers Rufus Bousquet, Guy Joseph and current opposition leader Allen Chastanet.
Montoute said in a December 7, 2020 letter Linquist indicated that he would deliver to the government the information he had accumulated, but he had not prepared any report.
“That was done and I am pleased to inform you under the instruction of the former Attorney General, that all of that information is sitting at the Attorney General’s office,” he told reporters.
Montoute declared that Prime Minister Pierre had access to the truth and could have referenced the letter.
And the former Minister expressed the UWP’s concern and one he believed the wider society shared regarding many investigations, which he considered to be witch hunts under the guise of investigating people who have done wrong.
“To date, there are very few, if any, results that we can point to that has justified the kind of expenditure that governments have undertaken in the name of the people of Saint Lucia,” Montoute stated.
He said he was not pointing fingers at any specific administration.