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Sep 30, 2010

Godfrey Smith’s Letter to Digicel

There is an ongoing row between the Bar Association and Prime Minister Dean Barrow. It became public over the departure from office of Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh and has become more pronounced over contracts for two justices of the court of appeal. This past Wednesday, the Prime Minister’s arrows were directed at senior counsel Godfrey Smith, a former attorney general and foreign minister, who Barrow, by way of an official release on Wednesday, accused of treason and lack of patriotism. In the Prime Minister’s eyes, Smith’s sin was writing a letter to Richard Fraser of the Digicel Group in Jamaica, warning him about the investment climate in Belize and that the government had not honored international arbitral awards to foreign investors. This morning the attack on Smith went up a few notches on the airwaves. News Five asked Smith today to explain, but first the letter that sent the PM ballistic.

Godfrey Smith, Attorney At Law

godfrey smith

“The letter I should point out was written not in a political capacity or in a private capacity.  It was written in a professional capacity as attorney at law for both Dean Boyce and the BTL Employees Trust.  So let’s make sure that that is clear that it was written in a professional capacity.  It was written to Digicel who we understand are interested in purchasing shares in Telemedia and the purpose of the letter was merely to point out to that company essentially that there is a multitude of litigation ongoing, both Belize and abroad, in relation to that company that they should be aware of that because they could be affected by that litigation.  The letter also pointed out Belize’s record in terms of for the sanctity of international contracts and apparently it is the reference to those events, to those several breaches by successive governments that has provoked the ire of the Government of Belize.  Nowhere have I heard it said that what I said in relation to those breaches of contracts that there’s anything false in it.  In fact, what I did was to chronicle breaches of contracts by the PUP government in relation to the Fort Street Tourism Village, in relation to a company called NEWCO, in relation to CASCAL and so on.  And the point of that is for everybody to sit up and to be aware that with this kind of record there is no way we’re going to get foreign investment.

People engaged in the private sector in Belize, people engaged in real estate in places like San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Placencia, Hopkins; asked them they will tell you that this is not a climate for investment in Belize and blame for that is parked squarely at the door of this government.  I have pointed out some of these things in a particular context.  It is not that I got up, I wrote a letter and I said let me broadcast this to the world at large.  This was a private letter written to Digicel in the context of a claim in which my clients are involved indicating diplomatically to them that this could have very serious repercussions for them in terms of their being affected by litigation. What is developing in Belize is a climate where if you do not agree with the several nonsensical and oppressive moves being made by the government if you do not accept that then you’re smeared, you’re called names, you’re put in the newspaper and the state basically turns against you.”

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15 Responses for “Godfrey Smith’s Letter to Digicel”

  1. MADDYVANDIJK/DEREALIST says:

    Yeah, we can read that letter, tisk, tisk.
    I am under the assumption that Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh still has a sincere bone in his body, a person who gives admiral advice and is also capable of taking it. Politics will continue to be the same way tomorrow and investments few. Who can blame investors, after all, it’s their money.

  2. Bejamin Usher says:

    U can say wat u want about Belize as long as you don’t get in the way of Belize. You could have recussed yourself and let another attorney write the letter Mr Smith. That way you would have avoided this sort of attack on you.

  3. Edith says:

    With every passing day, I loose more n more respect for our PM. Nothing is business anymore, its all political n all personal. I don’t think Godfrey did anything’s wrong. How cab it b treason if it’s the truth. In fact, it may not seem so now, but it is in the best interest of Belize. Imagine another lawsuit, another case tied up in court if and when Mr Barrow got tired of the new investor n decides to “take back btl for the belizean people” AGAIN. I cannot say a 100% Godfrey didn’t have ulterior motives, after all he’s a politician n a lawyer, double whammy, but again, he did not lie, n I’m sure the prospective investor would have checked n double checked before signing any agreement, n with minimal investigation, one can find out what had happened with Ashcroft. Come on people, don’t jump on a bandwagon n yell traitor just because. Think for yourselves. Godfrey should Sue the guardian for deformation of character n demand an apology from the PM. However, since we know how cocky our PM is, we can rule that out.

  4. anonymous says:

    He isn’t in politics anymore.

  5. Proud says:

    You spoke the truth, Godfrey Smith. The truth hurts, but it shall set u free!

  6. roska says:

    yeah “proud”…. He spoke the truth….. and the truth is that as lawyer (earning fees neither you nor I will ever earn in year) his first obligation is to his client…….NOT HIS COUNTRY…. that’s secondary…..

    Reason why we are in such a big hole….. we let lawyers run our country…. BOTH PUP and UDP.. and for both .. their clients financial welfare comes first…. first than the welfare of the country they are to serve….

    Cmon… wake up… their ministers’ salary is just a grain of sand compared to what they are paid by their clients….. they go into politics BECAUSE ONCE IN GOVNT THEY ARE IN BETTER POSITION TO SERVE THEIR CORPORATE CLIENTS!!! that’s the main reason why our government top politicians are lawyers…. and because they can foool us with words…. they do it to magistrates… so imagine US the paralegally ignoramus…. Right “proud”???

    “Proud” do you know the meaning of “conflict of interest”?

  7. Elgin Martinez says:

    Maybe the PM should turn all his negative vibes into something positive to fight the crime situation in Belize.

  8. rick says:

    i hear Pm this and PM that… yet non of u people come up with a solution to the problem!!!!! remember that they are all lawyers… that is on both sides PUP and UDP. so don’t come with that “He isn’t in politics anymore” anonymous. u sound like a hard core fanatic… so i wonder what are your real intensions. Edith do you even no the meanin of treason??? fine the company would do its research but do we as belizeans need to help them?? i think not. this is our nation and we should defend it to death… leave politics aside…. must say that roska makes a good piont….

  9. Victor Manuel says:

    Dean is like a little spoil brat..”if I don’t have my way ..I will rant and rave…” For transparency..(of which he talks so much) I want to know how much is he know paying (peoples monies) Lois Young this yah time?

  10. Kim says:

    It is so shameful what our country has come to, imagine…. Firstly, I am speaking on a personal note, because as I sit here today, i refuse to vote again for no PUP or UDP as long as I can see that life gets better here for poor people like me. However, I have to mention that I agree with Smith, Mr. PM I have noticed has no kind of professionalism or tact, to be calling people names in the house of Rep, over the airwaves, over the tv, its so childish of him. Its def what someone says at the top here that if he doesn’t have his way, he will rant and wave. Too draconian to be a PM of Belize. Now they played dirty and nationalized BTl so now Smith is trying to protect his clients, you call foul. Play with fire you get burn. The truth shall set you free indeed and thats what Mr. Smith did. And secondly why sell out BTL to outsiders??? Wasn’t it supposed to stay in Belize’s hands?? Its so amazing that we have a big problem in Belize, WHY CANT WE JUST GET IT RIGHT??? We forever have problems with the Phone, water, electricity companies. Butane gas and vehicle fuel have gone up, hundreds of streets are like freaking lakes, EVERYTHING expensive, taxes high, education for high school high, the rich getting richer and the poor getting more poorer, this government have no idea how we Belizeans the struggle mein…. wake up and start helping us and stop the cat fighting.

  11. Darlene says:

    I knew Mr. Smith when I was a little girl, and he was always an honest person. The letter he wrote was in confidential to his client and he is not stating any lies in his letter. Why is his letter being attack by the PM, this is a private business matter between Mr. Smith and his clients. It is his duty as an attorney to give his client the best legal advise that he can or he can be held accontable for not protect the rights of his client. Moreover nothing in the letter is a lie, they are all hard core fact.

  12. September to remember/LTC says:

    If only the PM had spoken out so passionately against the Crime wave, the same way he did when he found out that Godfrey Smith was doing what lawyers always do: DEFEND THEIR CLIENTS AT ANY COST! If only our PM was so passionate when three little 8 years old angel were shot (two fatally and one maimed). If only he had condemned so passionately all those other heinous BROAD DAYLLIGHT SLAYINGS, slaying of teenagers (6 alone in BLOODY SEPTEMBER), slaying of innocent bystanders, etc, if only, if only…

    Quite frankly, I don’t think that either of the two Legal Giants can criticize or judge the other, as they are both cut from the same tree. Furthermore, Barrow and Williams Law firm was on retainer for the same Lord Ashcroft’s Belize Bank for FIFTEEN YEARS, (1991 – 2006).

  13. Manford says:

    This is a situation of dam if you do, dam if you don’t. However in my humble opnion Mr. Smith’s action speaks volume for his integrity. We want an honost Belizean? Look no further. He could have lied to his client in the name of been patriotic, but he let his concience be his guide, unlike the PM judging from what Lawyer Courtney brought to light about the PM and Ashcroft, taking the man’s money while he so call try to build a name for himself under the pretence that he is protecting the interest of Belizeans. We can tell from the response on this forum who won the case. Yes there are a very few who thinks like Barrow, yet they want to see the country up lifted. They want to bake their cake and eat it at the same time. Give the foreign investor a raw deal and expect them to spread tidings of great joy about Belize. Many years ago I invited an investor from the USA that was going to invest as starters Ten million USD. After a visit to his embassy he was on the plane two days later. No explanation given as to why he changed his mind, but action speak louder than words except for the fool. Mr. Smith, do you really want to up lift your country? I’m sure your answer is yes; them use your energies and political know how to help build a strong THIRD PARTY.

  14. Global Perspective says:

    We can write blogs, we can rant and state and our displeasure. However, we the people mean absolutely nothing to these people. Belize is a country of 350,000 the size of villages in many countries around the world, and the way these guys run our country is a damn shame. For the past 25 years we have had the same faces determining our lives.

    Today we are fighting about name calling? When you have a certain position in life you put an additional cloak and so mud will always be slinging mud at you. We really new a whole new set of politicians on both UDP and PUP these present politicians and their family have raped our land of any and everything. If is not nail down sell it, we don’t leased anything just sell it. The Belizean people never given the chance to say what they would like to happened in a referendum. Is it because they think we so stupid we would not be able to comprehend what is happening?

    Nothing should be sold it this country without a period of consultation with the people. That is democracy.

  15. woody says:

    if it was a professional matter between attorney and client then Smith had no right to publish it on the internet for the world to see. that in itself contravenes attorney client confidentiality.

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