By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St Kitts, July 28, 2019 – High Court Judge, His Lordship Justice Eddy Ventose has ordered the Federation’s Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris to provide Leader of the Opposition the Rt Hon Dr Denzil L Douglas with documents in relation to the so-called Stem Cell matter.
Prime Minister Harris has until August 2, 2019 to provide Dr Douglas with several documents including the letter authorizing the St Kitts Institute for Regenerative Medicine to start up business, certified copies of decisions of the Cabinet, a list of medical personnel who worked on the project, the customs declaration forms and evidence that the umbilical cord blood or blood samples were procured by reputable international cord blood banks.
The Stem Cell matter went to court after Dr Harris took action against Dr Douglas claiming that he was libeled in a speech on 22 June 2016.
Dr Douglas in an amended defence on 5 December 2016 claimed that the words to which Dr Harris had complained of “were fair comment based on qualified privilege.
On 6 March 2019, Dr Douglas moved the court seeking several documents from Dr Harris.
Following a hearing on 29 June 2019, Justice Ventose in a 22 July 2019 ruling granted Dr Douglas’ application and ordered Prime Minister Harris to disclosure the following documents:
(1) – The letter regarding the authorization of business activity for the St Kitts Institute for Regenerative Medicine Ltd issued prior to 16 May 2016 and to which reference is made in the letter to the Director of the St. Kitts Institute for Regenerative Medicine Ltd dated 16 May 2016;
(2) A certified true copy of any decisions taken by Cabinet at its meeting dated 4 May 2016 in relation to the St. Kitts Institute for Regenerative Medicine Ltd;
(3) The public relations campaign package provided to the Cabinet and or Ministry of Health and or Government “re: the launch and press conference for the “new venture as per the commitment given by Mr. Kevin Klein and or St. Kitts Institute for Regenerative Medicine Ltd”
(4) Proof that the said public relations campaign package of St. Kitts Institute for Regenerative Medicine Ltd. was executed prior to the commencement of the regenerative project;
(5) A copy of the submission of the St. Kitts Institute for Regenerative Medicine Ltd.’s comprehensive business plan including its financing plan as requested by the letter of the 16 May 2017
(6) A certified true copy of any decisions taken by Cabinet at any meeting held in respect of the confirmation that the St. Kitts Institute for Regenerative Medicine Ltd complied with all of the requirements listed in the letter of the 16 May 2017;
(7) A list of all medical personnel that worked on the regenerative project and certified copies of their registration with the Medical Board at the time they worked on the regenerative project;
(8) A copy of the Custom and Excise declaration forms to confirm that the material used in the regenerative project consisted of umbilical cord blood or cord blood plasma samples which were procured from reputable international cord blood banks located in countries like Brazil;
(9) The documentary proof provided by the St Kitts Institute for Regenerative Medicine Ltd. to confirm that the raw materials to be used in the regenerative project were procured from reputable international cord blood banks; and
(10) Proof that the patients used in this regenerative project were granted access to the hospital using the normal admission protocols of the hospital and that the company and its employees or patients were not entering or accessing the premises of the Hospital via private access.
Justice Ventose also ordered that names of the patients be redacted from the documents provided.
He further ordered Prime Minister Harris to give Dr Douglas all the documents by close of business on 2 August 2019.
Justice Ventose further instituted an injunction restraining or prohibiting Dr Douglas, his servants, agents, subordinate or otherwise from using any of the documents disclosed otherwise than in the course of these proceedings except to the extent to which any of those documents have become part of the public domain.
He also ordered Dr Harris to pay Dr Douglas the sum of $1500.
Dr Douglas was represented by Mr Sylvester Anthony and Mrs Angelina Gracy Sookoo-Bobb. Dr Harris was represented by Mr Dane Hamilton QC and Mr Victor Elliott Hamilton.