Jamaican to head inquiry into historic land grabs in Bermuda

Jamaican to head inquiry into historic land grabs in Bermuda

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

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HAMILTON, Bermuda (CMC) — Jamaican-born retired puisne judge Norma Wade-Miller is to head an investigation into alleged historic land grabs here.

Premier David Burt announced the members of the commission of inquiry in the House of Assembly last week Friday in a motion to set up an inquiry that was tabled by late Progressive Labour Party (PLP) legislator Walton Brown in 2014 when the One Bermuda Alliance was in power.

Wade-Miller, the island's first female acting chief justice and who was once married to late Opposition Leader Frederick Wade, served as a puisne judge for 25 years. She was also the first woman in Bermuda to be appointed a substantive magistrate, and then a high court judge.

Other members of the inquiry will be lawyers Lynda Milligan-Whyte and Maxine Binns; business manager Frederica Forth; former PLP legislator Wayne Perinchief; environmentalist Jonathan Starling, and land surveyor Quinton Stovell.

“This now forms part of the legacy of the late honourable member Walton Brown, who was its champion,” said Burt.

The premier earlier said the commission's scope would include the investigation of “historic losses of citizens' property in Bermuda through theft of property, dispossession of property, adverse possession claims, and/or such other unlawful or irregular means by which land was lost in Bermuda”.

Brown's motion to ask the governor to set up a commission of inquiry into all known claims of property loss or dispossession was passed by parliament in July 2014. George Fergusson, the former governor, rejected the request, which sparked a march on Government House.

The controversy led to a change in the law that gave the premier power to appoint a commission of inquiry without the governor's approval.

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