PM blames ‘Johnny’ for nurse’s predicament

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has taken issue with the way the lead attorney for a former Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) nurse has handled her three-decades-old case for compensation against the Government.

Wednesday the Prime Minister, who has been criticized for not granting the nurse an audience at Parliament Tuesday, all but accused Coral Wilkinson’s lawyer Sir Richard ‘Johnny’ Cheltenham, QC, of playing games with her matter which dates back some 34 years to 1981, charging it seemed the attorney did not want to see an end to the case.

Coral Wilkinson at Parliament Wednesday.
Coral Wilkinson at Parliament Wednesday.

Stuart, who confirmed he listened to the former nurse’s plight as recently as three weeks ago when she called him at home, said he first heard of her in 2008 when he served as Attorney General.

However, the Prime Minister insisted Wilkinson’s lawyer should get a judge to settle the matter.

“If they are not so happy with the judge’s settlement, appeal it. If they are not happy with what the Court of Appeal says, carry it to the Caribbean Court of Justice. That is how we do business in Barbados.

“This whole business of not doing anything, or not doing enough, and having her out there believing that somebody has wronged her, or somebody is delinquent in not responding to her [is unfortunate],” Stuart said.

The ex-nurse is seeking compensation so she can travel to the United Kingdom for surgery to ease the pressure on her lower back and stop the crippling pain.

She told Barbados TODAY in February she had received a letter from Principal Crown Counsel Roger Barker, who was handling the case on behalf of the Solicitor General, offering her $145,159.70 so she could have the cervical surgery done.

That offer was rejected in a letter dated March 12, 2015 from Sir Richard, who argued that “to offer the meagre sum in full satisfaction of her case, is virtually to condemn her to remaining in her presently helpless condition”.

While suggesting the sum of $400,000 instead, the lawyer advised that the Solicitor General’s offer did not even cover the cost of the medical team in England, whose maximum fee is £33,000, neither did it include the expenses of going to England, which comprised such things as air travel, food, accommodation, internal travel and per diem allowance.

In a follow-up interview with Barbados TODAY this week, Wilkinson said the Attorney General had spoken to Barker on December 24 last year to have her case dealt with expeditiously and that on March 15 this year Sir Richard had written to Solicitor General Jennifer Edwards, QC, asking that the case be processed with the urgency it deserved.

Not satisfied with the speed with which her case was being processed, Wilkinson said she called the Prime Minister three Sundays ago and was told he would speak with the Attorney General, who later told her that everything was on stream for this month.

Saying she was now at her wits end, Wilkinson said she was left with no choice but to head to Parliament yesterday to try to appeal directly to Stuart and other members of his Cabinet in the hope they would listen to her cry for urgent settlement to her case.

She was denied her desired audience by security guards and had to be assisted by Member of Parliament for St Thomas Cynthia Forde and two members of the Royal Barbados Police Force after she fell several times within the precincts of Parliament.

In addressing the issue Wednesday, Stuart accused the former QEH nurse’s lawyer of wanting the Solicitor General’s chambers to “meekly, submissively, and compliantly, give them what they want”, but he warned, “it doesn’t work that way.

“So they are preparing to keep a client waiting for 21 or 25 years instead of pursuing the case to conclusion through the place that we know best, the court. So rather than call her lawyer she calls me. She has come down to Government Headquarters before, she has come up to the Attorney General’s Office before. I know Miss Wilkinson very well.

“I think this matter has to be brought to a conclusion. I do not remember all the details of the case now, but I don’t think there is any excuse for it being as old as it is,” Stuart argued.

10 Responses to PM blames ‘Johnny’ for nurse’s predicament

  1. dave June 23, 2016 at 7:10 am

    The more Stuart opens his mouth , the more we see who he really is.
    Blame everything and blame everybody else rather than taking the matter by the scruff of its neck and dealing with it.
    COMPLAIN about this and that.
    When somebody don’t want to do something , they find all sorts of reasons , which might sound legit, but are in reality just EXCUSES !!!

    We need a Prime Minister like Errol Walton

  2. Carson C Cadogan June 23, 2016 at 7:27 am

    I dont understand this woman.

    She waited 34 years to see a Prime Minister of Barbados and an Attorney General?

    How many Prime Ministers have we had in the last 34 years?

  3. Green Giant June 23, 2016 at 7:44 am

    This is the way the legal system works. Poor people are forced to accept less than what’s due to them because of the long wait, and the fact that they find it challenging to survive daily. This is not a political issue as it was ongoing during the office of both parties in power, it’s obvious why it was not addressed before. Seems somewhat similar to the Barrack affair.

    Oh once more the politics of the legal system.

  4. Big Brown June 23, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Irrespective of the broken state of our judicial system, the Prime Minister’s response comes across as heartless and inhumane. He has it within his power to end this lady’s suffering with one note on her file. Settle the claim!

    He has perfected the art of passing the buck, obfuscation and insensitivity to the plight of ordinary people.

    Fear not! His date in the court of public opinion draweth nigh. Prayers go out to Coral Wilkinson.

  5. Jack June 23, 2016 at 10:12 am

    To have anyone waiting that long for settlement is inhumane. At least pay for the surgery to ease the lady’s pain; then battle it out for the remainder of the money. But of course, she’s nobody of importance so she can wait in pain; or in vain.
    Stuart, and all his minions, are condescending jackasses. 2018 is soon upon us though, and all of us educated Barbadians that you treat with scant disrespect, will finally have a say.

  6. dave June 23, 2016 at 10:20 am

    People wait expecting that the situation will be dealt with . After waiting, people might ask a question only to be told , we are going to fix it another 5 years passed and it continues. This happens and you wait in earnest expecting that reasonable people will fix your problem . 34 years pass just so and you realize –hey them ain’t fixing my problem . What do you do ? You seek an audience with the Prime Minister because in these small societies , PMs wield a lot of influence and should be able to get things done. The response by the Prime Minister left me with -mouth Open-

  7. Sherlock Holmes. June 23, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Some of these the statements here are really amazing.

  8. jrsmith June 23, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Bajan people is expecting too much from our politicians, the character of them all this present lot can hardly be calculated..

  9. DAP June 24, 2016 at 2:20 am

    Did she not go through all this when both parties were in power so why are you all only bashing Mr Stuart i think that you all are Blp yard fouls for real any how hope the lady get help very soon and let us remember she use to help others that were sick to get well now she needs help

  10. Sheron Inniss July 2, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    In this instance I can’t cry down the PM. Why the lady let so much time go by? However I do believe she should be given assistance or be compensated.


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