Monday, June 5, 2023

Bethel Condemns Revelation of WhatsApp Chat in PI Crown Land Dispute

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Attorney General Carl Bethel contends that Bahamian developer Toby Smith violated his privacy following Smith’s exposure of a WhatsApp message with Bethel.

Bethel released a press statement on Wednesday after the social media message was revealed to the Tribune where Bethel is shown telling Smith that Royal Caribbean was being “unreasonable” with its rival demands in its battle for a Paradise Island crown land lease.

Why it matters

The March 2020 social media exchange comes amid Smith’s fight in court in which he is seeking the assistance of the Supreme Court to validate the lease of the Paradise Island property and confirm that the crown land lease is legally binding.

The big picture

A Crown Land on Paradise Island is in dispute between Smith and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line which Smith wants to develop into a beach club but has since been approved for development by the government.

Smith is suing the government for violation of the agreement.

What the AG is saying

Bethel told the Tribune on Tuesday night that the exposure was a “grotesque” breach of his privacy.

“I have no comment on such a gross violation of privacy,” he said.

Bethel said he was asked by Cabinet to conduct negotiations, seeking to resolve the proposed lease of Crown Land on Paradise Island where a face-to-face preliminary meeting was held with Smith.

“Subsequently, Mr. Toby Smith contacted me via social media on the basis of privacy. Negotiations continued on that basis.

“Regrettably, Mr. Smith has breached the privacy that he himself indicated in his initial contact,” he said.

Bethel continued, “Negotiations are not usually assisted by arguing and telling the other party to the negotiations that he, himself, is completely unreasonable.

“Since that time, Mr. Smith has commenced a legal action in the Supreme Court.

“Informal contact accordingly ceased.

“It is interesting to know that the said legal action seems not to be going anywhere, and that Mr. Smith now appears to prefer litigating in the press, rather than in court,” Bethel said.

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