“When I was thrown out of the Cabinet, my name was slandered and bandied about and my conduct was questioned,” he said. “At the time, I said I wanted an investigation into Udecott’s affairs and if that investigation showed I had no reason to be concerned I would resign my public office. Today I feel I can continue in politics a bit longer.”
The former Trade and Industry Minister called on the removal of the entire Udecott board and welcomed Hart’s resignation as “just the beginning.”
“I am happy that he has resigned because what that means now is that he is no longer conducting public business,” Rowley said. “But this does not end the process. This is just the beginning.”
He said Hart’s resignation was the proper conduct for a person in public life, and while it came late, it was “better late that never.”
Noting that Hart’s resignation came in the wake of the emergence of apparently uncontrovertible documentary evidence that the Udecott board awarded a $820 million contract to a company linked to Hart, Rowley said the Udecott board must also resign given their role in the award of that contract in 2005 as well as their past defence of Hart.
“The Government must now appoint a board that would be committed to transparency and accountability. The fact that Mr Hart has gone does not change the position taken by other members of the board and the role they played in the award of the Ministry of Legal Affairs Tower.
“Additionally, given the constant defence put up by the members of the board for what Mr Hart was doing at Udecott, there can be no question that in light of the fact that he has acknowledged that he should not preside over public business, the other members of the board should follow suit,” he said.
“I think that given all that is now known and all that has to be examined from here on end, he has done the decent thing to withdraw from conducting public business,” the former Trade and Industry Minister who once staked his political career on the issue of Udecott, said.
“In all of the attempts to defend the indefensible and to hide all that has gone on, a lot of damage has been done to a lot of institutions and agencies but it is better late than never.
“It has always been my view that the Government’s attempts to defend individuals like Hart was wrong and there ought to have been reactions like this on numerous occasions based on information coming to the public domain. I have called for Mr Hart’s resignation or removal on many occasions and the Government had a responsibility to remove him.”
He noted that there should be a longer-term focus on the enforcement of ethics laws for persons in public life like Hart, given all that has occurred.
“There are laws and regulations that govern people’s conduct I expect that those laws would be implemented,” he said.