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Jun 23, 2022

Barrow Says GOB and Courtenay Coye’s Arrangement is Terribly Wrong

The opposition has raised a stink over the law firm of CourtenayCoye taking on cases for the Government of Belize under the Briceño administration. U.D.P. Chairman Mike Peyrefitte, under the Freedom of Information Act, sought details of the arrangement between G.O.B. and the law firm, of which senators Eamon Courtenay and Christopher Coye are senior partners.  Today, we asked former Prime Minister Dean Barrow about the controversy and where his administration faired off in the granting of such legal work to other law firms. Here’s his response.


Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow, Former Prime Minister

“It’s wrong, it’s terribly wrong and when the prime minister said well, but I did it as prime minister and I hired Barrow and Williams, that‘s not true.  There were maybe a couple of occasions as with the ICJ where we needed counsel in a hurry to try to get to the Court of Appeal after Benjamin had said no to the referendum, but that was the exception.  If in the way as is happening now, we had been, I had been as prime minister having the government retain Barrow and Williams to fight these cases, you in the media would have known.  Can you remember one case for the government?  You know how many cases are there now in which CourtenayCoye has appeared.  This one, the Peyrefitte one.  They are appearing in the Recological one, they are appearing in the Brads one.  If that had happened when I was prime minister, you would have known.  It didn‘t happen and that‘s why there was never any outcry about that.  In terms of the government retaining the services of Denys Barrow and Lois Young during the course of that epic saga, that epic nationalist struggle against the so-called alliance, again, there is nothing wrong with that.  These were attorneys who were extremely distinguished.  In other words, they were hired on merit and there was a case a long time ago when I was attorney general of this country, when Barrow & Company, or Barrow & Staine it might have been at the time, anyway, the firm with my brother was hired and the PUP took it all the way to the Court of Appeal and the Court of Appeal said no.  It‘s not his firm, it‘s not his.  He is a lawyer too and he has a firm, but it‘s not his firm.  It‘s his brother‘s firm, it‘s a firm that‘s, from what we know, a good firm and the fees paid are not inflated.  They are what is normal in a circumstance, there‘s nothing wrong with that.  So the opposite, of course, is that if I had, as attorney general, hired my own firm, there would have been something wrong with that.  And there is now something completely wrong with what is happening in terms of having CourtenayCoye on retainer.  Of course, the principals of CourtenayCoye have gone and gotten an exemption from the Governor General which then means that they can suffer no legal consequences in terms of giving up their seat in the Senate.  But what does that tell you?  So they came into government with a predetermination that they would be giving or that the government would be giving their law firm business to an extent where they needed to get an exemption to allow their firm to enter into these contracts routinely with government and collect money?”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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