Whatever it is that exists between Tourism Minister Ernest Hilaire and former Prime Minister Allen Chastanet is far from over, even though Hilaire this week triumphed over Chastanet in a case that had heavy political overtones.
The case, which dragged for four long years, ended Thursday when the Crown Prosecution withdrew the matter which was all about (1) whether a vehicle, a Discovery Sport, belonged to Hilaire or the Government of Saint Lucia and (2) whether Hilaire paid all the necessary duties on the vehicles after it was released in his care.
All of this came to a head in September 2020 when the then Comptroller of Customs Peter Chiquot, requested of Hilaire to return the vehicle into the care and custody of the Customs Department for failing and refusing to submit invoices which were issued to him.
Hilaire filed cases against Chastanet and Chiquot claiming that they abused their offices by detaining his vehicle and causing him reputational damage and involving themselves in misfeasance while holding public office.
“For me the case against Chiquot and Chastanet is more important than even getting the vehicle back,” Hilaire told reporters, further stating that the deeper issue to him is what both men did when they were in public office
“I did file a suit against Peter Chiquot in his personal capacity for malice in public office,” Hilaire said, adding that there was no basis for the claims made against him by Chastanet.
“Allen Chastanet abused his office as Prime Minister to go after a political opponent to discredit him to try and destroy his character locally, regionally and internationally and he used public office to do so. Peter Chiquot participated in that knowing that what he was doing was wrong. Two controllers before him did not agree and now a new controller agreed that was totally unnecessary and is wrong,” Hilaire said.
The matter involving the vehicle was resolved through mediation, prompting Hilaire to say that the court system works.
“The Magistrate having reviewed the matter said this should not even be before the court but should be settled in mediation. We were able to resolve it in mediation, and you know I am glad that this chapter is over. We still have to deal with Peter Chicquot and of course Allen Chastanet, they must not be allowed to escape with that kind of conduct,” Hilaire said.
The vehicle was expected to be released yesterday and delivered to Hilaire sometime next week.
“I don’t even know if I feel vindicated because you know I did nothing wrong, but they went out to destroy your character, destroy your name, the pain that your family go through, your children…why? Hilaire said.