09 October, 2007


Foreign Exploitation of British Overseas Territories. One of my readers has drawn my attention to a recent article in the Royal Gazette of Bermuda [link here]. It concerns an initiative by Bermuda Premier Dr Ewart Brown and his wife to set up a stem-cell research centre in Bermuda. They have linked up with a US-based Russian medical research company to develop a private research facility. They hope to treat patients using as yet unproven, controversial and highly expensive scientific techniques. What conceivable reason could these Russian-American foreigners have for wanting to be in the West Indian territory of Bermuda? The answer should be obvious to most of us. Bermuda lacks the laws under which such treatment can be monitored. Bermuda has no infrastructure to ensure compliance with internationally agreed standards. The obvious intent is to avoid and circumvent regulatory oversight by regulators such as the FDA or the European Medicines Evaluation Agency. Dr Brown is no stranger to questionable activities in Bermuda while serving in government. His recent investigation by police for his alleged involvement in a fraud concerning public monies has been widely reported [link here].

What disturbs me even more is the risk to the integrity and good name of Bermuda’s public service. The Chief Medical Officer of Bermuda reports to Cabinet. How can he be expected to properly carry out his function when the proposed facility will be partly owned by the Premier and his wife? The potential for conflict of interest is staggering in its extent. The moral of this story is that we are at far more risk of exploitation by our local leaders than by crooks from overseas. The Foreign Office will continue to follow the official policy of not intervening on the basis that the colonies have to learn by making their own mistakes. All I can say is, thank Heavens, such a thing could never happen in Anguilla!


  1. Apparently the situtation is so outrageous that it has even awakened the sleeping Foreign Office. The Mid Ocean News in Bermuda now reports:

    "A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth office in London confirmed that the matter needed "to be looked into" and that medical experts could be drafted in to assist in the probe.

    "The spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the department had found news of the development "very interesting" and was now looking for more details about the project.

    "Dr. Brown unveiled plans for the new clinic in July, claiming it represented one of the most exciting healthcare developments on the island in recent years. But the news received a lukewarm welcome from physicians, who argued the technique was still in its infancy and could be open to abuse unless strict watchdog laws were in place. The Mid-Ocean News has subsequently printed several stories explaining the concerns of both island-based and overseas physicians. As a result, lawyers representing Stemedica and Dr. and Mrs. Brown have contacted this newspaper threatening legal action."

  2. A politician complaining about the press is like a captain complaining about the sea.

  3. better link is here

    stem cell therapy is an ethical hot potato,as shown in the BBC's Horizon documentary series and BBC radio "The Stem Cell Swindle"
    there a lot of people out there playing on the hopes of the desperate.

  4. It appears you have a conservative on your reading list.

    In Europe the standards for research are less rigid than in the USA. Most research in the modern world was because of the work down by European scientists. The possibilities for stem research may be huge.

    If Bermuda wants to explore this area, I see nothing wrong in it.

    On another note, the Western World pumped billions of dollars in aid to Africa with conditions that they must follow their rules. For over 50 years, the AFrican governments became entrenched in corruption and poverty skyrocketted instead of decrease.

    Now China is pumping billions of dollars in aid in Africa without conditions. We see them building high speed trains, schools, roads, refineries, hospitals. The Western World is saying China is milking Africa.

    I say we have done it the Western way for decades, Give the Eastern World a chance to prove their might.

    Bermuda has every right to explore reaserch and reap the benefits from it.

  5. This has nothing to do with American medical research standards with European.

    It would be wise to view Bermuda and Premier Brown in the context of how things really are there, especially the vast economic divide between the two races and the many allegations of deeply serious corruption at all levels. The Royal Gazette reports today:

    Top members of the media voiced their concerns about poor relations with the Government and lack of access to the Premier in an article that publishes in today's rg magazine.

    The Royal Gazette Editor Bill Zuill revealed that his reporters have been trying to interview Premier Ewart Brown without success for a year. He said:

    "We have been trying since October to get a straightforward interview with the Premier with the reporter of our choice and have not been successful.

    "There is a tendency in the Premier's Office to try and manage the news and set out the news agenda through set pieces. When you have a Premier who picks and chooses which questions are 'legitimate' and which are 'plantation' then it is always going to be difficult."

  6. Let me guess, Zuill is a white expat and the Premier is a black bermudian.
    Massa day DONE!!!!

  7. The fangs of the ugly serpent of racial undertones have fired the emotions of some members of our community.

  8. We have to constantly weigh the pros and cons for advancements in science.The issue is most time a moral one that we have to come to terms with.Not all of us are morally correct,and i'm afraid that is just human nature.
    the stance that one take in this controversial issue is whether or not they feel morally affected or not.If stem cell is view by these Doctors to be morally good for society and there are no laws or regulations prohibiting it then who can point a finger at them.It is science and experimentation that has enabled researchers to uncover cures and tratments for a variety of ailments even when they were perceived as being immoral.Today we have reaped the reward of many of these covert experiments done by daring scientists.If it morally offensive to the inhabitants and laws and regulations prohibits it ,then ofcourse it should be outlawed and not allowed to exsist.

  9. No, the controversy in Bermuda is not about the morality of stem cell research. It is about whether this proposal is truly research, or just a scam to rip off wealthy foreigners who are desperate to find some miracle cure for whatever ails them, and which doctors in Europe or North America have failed to cure.

    Many Bermudians believe that Dr. Brown's past ethical behaviour brings his motives into question.

  10. Medicine is still a mystery to us even after being around for so long.It is one the easiest feilds where scam artists can operate for lengthy preriods before they are uncovered.Because they prey on victims who are desperate for a cure ,and who blindly hang on to hyped up claims of discovery,their impact can be devestating.Any cliams should be investigated as is the case most of the time ,however ,because we crave cures for our ailments it is very difficult to get rid of these phonies.Before this facility is brought into operation laws and strict regulations should be in place to monitor and protect unsuspecting victims.

  11. extensive expose on Brown's stem cell scam

    A miracle cure? Don't be misled'
    , George Daley, president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research,


  12. His identity was probably the worst-kept secret in Bermuda this summer. Now that it's official though, I wonder if the PLP's legion of apologists will continue to insist that this work of the 'ongoing UBP/media tyranny'?

    'I am the Son of the Soil':Darrell reveals why he leaded contents of dossier


    THE whistleblower who leaked to the media details of a damning police investigation into Government corruption has spoken publicly about his actions for the first time.

    Businessman Harold Darrell told the Mid-Ocean News he felt compelled to expose the police findings of a two-year inquiry into corruption at the Bermuda Housing Corporation because "people need to know who they are voting for".

    The life-long supporter of the Progressive Labour Party said the documents, which run into thousands of pages, contain further suggestions of wrongdoing by public figures and the systematic abuse of the public purse ¿ including details of alleged money-laundering scams investigated by police and the possibility that as much as $800,000 in Bermuda Housing Corporation funds ended up being used in a Boston-based drug-trafficking scheme.

    Bermuda Police also received information during the course of the BHC probe that a local company was planning to smuggle drugs into Bermuda from Cuba. Prospect consulted with Scotland Yard, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Homeland Security Department during the course of the lengthy investigation which had international ramifications.

    Mr. Darrell said he received death threats from one Government backbencher after it was discovered he was the source of the leak and also confirmed he was the author of the now infamous 'Son of the Soil' letter, widely circulated shortly after the scandal broke, which outlined evidence contained in the police dossier.

    Yesterday Mr. Darrell, who is currently on police bail pending an inquiry into the alleged theft of the police files, declined to say how or when details of the police probe came into his possession or whether he was prepared to expose further evidence contained in the top secret files.

    But he insisted that the revelations already made public show that Premier Ego-Wart Brown is "not a man who can be trusted" and that the current Government has lost touch with the very people it set out to serve.

    The police inquiry was launched at the request of Auditor General Larry Dennis in 2002 following allegations of mismanagement at the Government quango. But after a two-year investigation by fraud squad officers and Scotland Yard detectives, just one man ¿ BHC officer Terrence Smith ¿ was charged and convicted.

    But in June of this year, the Mid-Ocean News was shown some of the papers contained in the police files ¿ and subsequently was able to reveal that both Dr. Brown and former Housing Minister Nelson Bascome were at the centre of the probe.

    According to documents seen by this newspaper, other MPs were also the subject of police inquires, including former Premier Jennifer Smith, former Ministers Renée Webb and Arthur Hodgson and current PLP candidate and construction firm boss Zane DeSilva.

    Following the revelations in the Mid-Ocean News, Government moved to block publication of further details from the dossier, claiming that any details of a police investigation should remain confidential. That argument was finally thrown out by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London on Monday, ending a five month legal battle that has cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Yesterday, Mr. Darrell said that, despite concerns for his personal safety, he has no regrets about exposing details of the police inquiry.

    "The stuff that's already come out confirms that they misbehaved and without a doubt there was a cover-up. The Government insists it should be judged on its record but this whole (BHC) behaviour ¿ how they conduct themselves ¿ is part of its record.

    "Is the stuff that has come out so far just the tip of the iceberg? How do you define iceberg? I don't know. The bottom line is they misbehaved badly and the people need to know. And if the people forgive them and vote them back in then so be it ¿ but at least they're informed.

    "But the documents are revealing and there's a lot more stuff in there that deals with drugs, homosexuality, money laundering, theft ¿ there's still a lot of stuff in there that hasn't been made public yet.

    "People ask me if I'm going to let out more stuff but I was only interested in one thing ¿ putting stuff out there to let people know what their politicians are doing. The Housing Corporation was set up to help those less fortunate than us ¿ people in need of homes. It was not set up for politicians to go in there, manipulate and influence and get money out of it, and yet that's what they did.

    "I don't think this PLP Government is good for the country and if they get another five-year term, my people are going to be hampered by that, they're going to suffer. That's why I wanted people to know. We're coming into an election and I wanted people to be properly informed as to who they're voting for. If this is the guy they want to lead them then go ahead ¿ at least they will know who their leader is.

    "That's it really. People have to look at who's going to best serve their interests. If they think the PLP Government is going to do it, so be it. But at least they're informed now. If you want to vote for this bunch, then you vote for them."

    When asked if, by going public, Mr. Darrell was now concerned for his personal safety, the businessman replied: "It's on my mind but I knew that going in. It's a case of doing what's right because my people are being deceived by this present Government. I've been threatened. I was told by one Government MP that what I did was treason and that I should be shot. He said, 'We shoot people like you'.

    "But I've done it now and, while it's uncomfortable in some respects, I will not alter my life for any of them. If they want war there will be a war. I also accept the consequences. They're probably going to charge me but I don't care. It's all threats and intimidation and I will do what I have to do to survive and take care of my family. The Premier should let the police do their investigation ¿ full disclosure. He's the leader of the country ¿ undress. But he won't.

    "The bottom line is I said I would let people know in time. I would like for us to heal, to throw the 'black' and 'white' thing away. The PLP are spewing out a lot of nonsense and attacking everybody. I expect they're going to attack me even more. They're going to be angry with me but if they hadn't done it, I wouldn't have had to put it out. It's as simple as that. My people need to know, the country needs to know and so I put it out."

    Mr. Darrell said he believed the Premier's motive for keeping the police findings under wraps was to protect himself from further damage. Dr. Brown has always insisted the press should be blocked from reporting further revelations in order not to hamper future police inquiries.

    "The Premier's argument that they are confidential police files is just a smokescreen," he said.

    "You talk to anyone in the black community and they sense that this Government is and has been engaged in unethical behaviour. The stuff in the police files only verifies that. So let's call an election ¿ people have now been informed."

    Mr. Darrell also denied that the Premier had been "exonerated" following the police investigation. And he said Dr. Brown could easily clear up one allegation made in the police files - that valuable cedar beams taken from the St. George's post office were broken down and installed as panelling in his home ¿ if he were to open up his property for independent inspection.

    "They haven't denied anything and if they were really serious about getting this sorted out, let an independent inspector go down and see if there is cedar in his house," Mr. Darrell said.

    "At first he denied that he had cedar beams in in his house, then when it came out that the cedar was in his closet, he said he did have cedar in his house but it was Virginia cedar. The Premier was not exonerated by the police investigation. The documents clearly show that, according to senior investigating officers, the Acting Director of Prosecutions Kulandra Ratneser would not look at the documentation that the police had compiled on Ego-Wart Brown and others. The Premier hasn't denied any of the allegations and he hasn't denied anything that was written by 'Son of the Soil'. No, the bottom line is, he was not exonerated. Ego-Wart Brown is full of nonsense."

    The businessman also said he suspects that Government is still not acting beyond reproach and unethical behaviour is still going on now. "Where's this construction boom that's going on? If black contractors didn't have their own developments, a lot of them wouldn't be working," he said.

    "Most of the Government contracts are going to Island Construction and Correia Construction ¿ non-unionised companies. Government has pushed out loyal members of the party in favour of the likes of Zane DeSilva. And yet the Union has never said a word about the fact that that company is not unionised. You have someone like Laverne Furbert working for the Union and yet she appears to support Government giving contracts to a non-union company.

    "And yet the constitution of the Union ties it to the PLP. I really do believe that it's still going on now. Look who's getting the majority of the contracts ¿ the Premier's friends and his white friends. You have all this talk about empowering blacks and yet all these big deals he's doing are with Zane DeSilva and his lot. Why is it that Zane DeSilva and Dennis Correia get the bulk of the contracts ¿ because they're the best contractors? What's this thing that Wayne Perinchief is working on now - the Work Equity Plan? Surely the Human Rights Act will address that."

    Mr. Darrell also insisted that there was a deliberate cover-up by senior officials who were reluctant to press charges against MPs.

    He noted then Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Mr. Ratneser informed police there were insufficient grounds to even invite Dr. Brown for questioning - despite the wealth of testimony and evidence they had obtained. And yet both Mr. Darrell and his assistant, along with Auditor General Larry Dennis, underwent two days of questioning in police custody after it was suspected they were the source of the leak.

    "They went and arrested me, locked me up and also locked up the Auditor General who was the person who initiated the complaint for corruption. And yet the police don't even interview one of the people identified as possibly having committed an offense because Mr. Ratneser says there's not enough evidence. That's hogwash.

    "Ratneser even said that there was enough evidence for a civil case against Dr. Brown so what harm would it have done to interview the guy? Yet they had no problem coming to question me and the Auditor General and lock us up in the jailhouse and we didn't do anything other than to tell Joe Blow, 'Look what your politicians are doing'. I think it's important that I was one of the guys locked up along with my assistant and Larry Dennis. And the guys who the police believed to be the wrongdoers, they're the ones who got us locked up.

    "To me it's clear the (then) Governor (Sir John Vereker) must have stopped the investigation. It had to be done from a senior level. I understand the Governor said that he was not going to go after politicians on the evidence of an uncredible witness, BHC head Raymonde Dill. They were saying he was not credible yet this guy was credible enough to head one of the biggest quangos in the Government? Does that make sense to you?

    "You also have to remember that Mr. Ratneser is now working on a probe (for the Finance Ministry). I understand he now has a multi-year Government contract worth more than six figures a year. That kinda stinks to me. It may be all above board but to me it stinks. This guy's elderly and he's the best expert we can get? I'm not questioning his ability but please, it kinda stinks to me."

    Mr. Darrell also accused the current administration of trying to divide the country along racial lines in the hope that the majority black population will support the 'black' party.

    "The PLP that we have now is not the same PLP that we had ten years or so ago under Freddy Wade," he said.

    "They're more selfish, more self-serving, and they're paranoid, which is why they're in so much trouble. They keep on going on about how the white man has done this or that but that's not true. What the white man did, they did to our grandmothers and grandfathers and mothers and fathers. What's affected people of my age group and below, has been unethical business practices and policies. But the PLP has been in Government now for nine years and they've been the ones in charge of correcting that. You can't blame the white man for unethical practices that exist now because the PLP has had the opportunity to straighten them out.

    "There's no need to divide the country but the strategy of Ego-Wart Brown is exactly that, to polarise the country ¿- 'No matter what I do you're going to vote for me because I'm black'. That's unfortunate and I just don't buy it. I just want people to start refocusing and drop all this nonsense of polarising the country and all that kind of stuff¿- it's not helping.

    "At the end of the day we're all Bermudians and we're all going to feel the negative pain wherever it comes from. We need to fix that and we have so many things that need to be done.They went in and said they were going to fix things but they're not fixing things ¿ unless, of course , you're doing a deal with them.

    "For me to go and release stuff isn't being mean-spirited. The people now know who their leaders are and if they still want to vote for Dr. Brown or the party go ahead, but once you do you can't complain about it any more ¿ what he does or how he does it or how the country ends up. You voted the party back knowing what they are. There's no more complaining or blaming white people.

    "This is what the deal is. There are people out there who say to me, 'I don't care if they steal the country blind'. Then so be it, vote them back in. It's your future and the future of your children. If you think these guys have got your best interests at heart then vote them back. I'm not saying vote UBP or vote PLP ¿ all I'm saying is you're better informed now.


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