The Range Rover saga involving Castries South MP Dr. Ernest Hilaire has taken a new twist, with charges against the former Saint Lucia High Commissioner in the UK being dropped.
In 2020, Customs Officers armed with a warrant detained Hilaire’s Range Rover Sport amid claims that there were irregularities in the importation of the vehicle.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday morning, Hilaire explained that the parties had begun mediation on the matter. And he said the Magistrate involved could not understand how such an issue was before the courts.
“We started mediation before the elections, of course there was a break for the elections because of me being a candidate. We had mediation yesterday and of course the mediation process resolved the matter and we came to court today to inform the court and basically the Comptroller of Customs withdrew the charges and having withdrawn the charges agreed that my vehicle should be returned to me and be released by tomorrow,” he disclosed.
“I think the Customs have agreed that they will have to settle the compensation that’s involved for loss of use and of course the lawyers will meet with Customs and deal with those matters,” the Minister for Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information explained.
“It may be that mediation is the route that we go but I did file a suit against Peter Chiquot in his personal capacity for malfeasance in public office and sued for damages. I think it has to go ahead.”
“It was an assessment done by two previous Comptrollers that there was really no basis for the claims that were made by the then Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and his party and of course, they really took the action because I dared them to come for the vehicle,” Hilaire asserted.
He said he knew his rights and had done nothing wrong.
“But they wanted to prove a point that even if I had done nothing wrong they were going to make me pay and even if it means that the state now has to pay significant amounts of money.”
“They were going to hurt me because I dared Allen Chastanet and Guy Joseph by waving my key saying ‘I have done nothing wrong. Come for the keys if you-all want’.”
Hilaire said he was fortunate that he had friends who stood up for him.
“Bu the average Saint Lucian who doesn’t have the kind of support I had, what do they go through?”
Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre attended the court session on Thursday as ‘ a friend and colleague’ of Hilaire.
“We believe that justice must be had for everybody in the country. So Dr. Hilaire made himself present at court so the system can work. We believe that no man is above the law and every man has to be treated equally when it comes to the law,” he told reporters.
“We are very satisfied that the system has worked,” Pierre declared.