Prime Minister Andrew Holness' Referral to Jamaica's Director of Corruption Prosecution Triggered By 18º North's 2016 Exposé
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness is facing potential prosecution for breaches of the anti-corruption law and public procurement rules.
He was referred by the Integrity Commission to its Director of Corruption Prosecution following the Commission’s conclusion that Mr. Holness may have influenced the awarding of government contracts to Westcon Construction Limited, whose principals, Robert Garvin and Donovan Simpson, had been known to him for the past 20 years and had business dealings with him.
The Commission stated in its report released Wednesday that the probe was prompted by the exposé from 18º North almost seven years ago. It was a carryover from the time of the Office of the Contractor General (OCG), which was the foremost anti-corruption government agency in the country before it was disbanded and the Integrity Commission came into being.
The report states:
The specific media report which triggered the OCG’s Investigation was the broadcast of an episode of the television programme ‘18 Degrees North’, which aired on Television Jamaica, on Monday, May 30, 2016 at 8:30 p.m. The broadcast, which was hosted by Ms. Zahra Burton, made allegations concerning (a) the award of contracts to the entity Weston Construction and (b) the connection and relationship between the proprietors of the named entity and the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica and then Minister of Education Youth and Information.
The news is a vindication of sorts for 18º North, which has had to fend off multiple legal challenges from both Mr. Holness and Robert Garvin - first an injunction to stop the rebroadcast of the program then a lawsuit claiming defamation from each of the men against both us and broadcaster Television Jamaica.
The lawsuit with Mr. Holness was resolved confidentially in 2017, and we maintain the right to rebroadcast after successfully making a case that the court should overturn the injunction. The case with Mr. Garvin is still pending and is set for trial in 2024.
Though Mr. Holness has said he strongly disagrees with some of the findings of the report, and we don’t know what the Director of Corruption Prosecution will do, this moment is a reminder of the importance of journalism. Simply put, journalism is essential to rattling the right cages and holding the powerful to account!!
This isn’t the first time that 18º North has factored into an investigation. Just last year, one law enforcement agency took out a subscription to 18º North to help with some of its ongoing probes.
For only US$10.00 a month or US $100 a year, you can see what law enforcement sees by becoming a paid subscriber. Help us do more…We want to hold more powerful people to account!