Friday 23 October, 2020

Customs gives Hilaire 7 days to return vehicle; attorneys respond

Dr Ernest Hilaire

Dr Ernest Hilaire

Deputy Leader of the Opposition Saint Lucia Labor Party and Parliamentary Representative for Castries South, Dr Ernest Hilaire has been given an ultimatum by the Customs and Excise Department in the latest saga involving his Land Rover Sport.

Based on a letter being circulated over social media on Wednesday, Hilaire has been given seven days to return the vehicle to the Customs and Excise Department.

The letter, which is signed by Acting Comptroller of Customs, Peter Chiquot, states that Hilaire did not follow proper procedures and failed to produce certain documents supporting the importation of the Land Rover Sport to Customs, which he imported during his stint as Saint Lucia's High Commissioner to the UK.

The matter of the importation of the vehicle has been playing out in the media for several years with Hilaire, the Government and now the Customs Department explaining in detail what was or wasn't done.

Hilaire has since denied any wrong doing and earlier this month he announced that he would be taking further legal action against Prime Minister Allen Chastanet for defamatory statements made against him on the matter.

According to attorney Peter Foster QC, "We have written three letters so far just in the space of this week.

One to the prime minister directly to him; in essence stating that if he does not apologize for a statement he issued on September 2, 2020, we will be issuing proceedings against him personally for misfeasance in public office and also for defamation."

The latest move by the Customs and Excise Department has prompted the attorneys of Hilaire to take action.

"We also issued a letter to the Comptroller of Customs indicating that his actions are unlawful in essence and that if he were to seize that vehicle it would be an unlawful act and we will also be suing him.  He responded and we have responded as well so that's where we are at now," the legal luminary said.

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