Editorial

That Range Rover Sport Saga

Image of Dr Ernest Hilaire

We can’t escape, it seems, from the drama surrounding the Range Rover Sport owned by the parliamentary representative for Castries South Dr. Ernest Hilaire.

Everywhere we turn it’s in our face, being played out like a drama series on Netflix that releases an episode every week. Not too long ago it was the issuance of a statement by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet about Hiliare’s importation of a duty-free vehicle which was purchased in England when Hilaire was Saint Lucia’s High Commissioner there.

Hilaire responded to the Prime Minister’s statement saying that it defamed him and that he had instructed his attorneys to take legal action on his behalf against the Prime Minister.

The Castries South Parliamentary Representative went as far as saying, when the statement was released, that the Prime Minister was obsessed with him.

Today, another player – the Customs and Excise Department – has entered the saga, ordering Hiliare to return the vehicle to the custody of Customs, the same vehicle it had released into Hiliare’s care by way of a pre-delivery authorized on Friday, December 23, 2015.

The Customs and Excise Department’s re-entry into the Range Rover Sport action at this time after authorizing Hilaire to leave with the vehicle, per conditions or upon good faith, is somewhat perplexing. Also extraordinary is the time it took the Customs and Excise Department to figure out something was amiss with Hilaire’s paperwork pertaining to the vehicle. There must be more to this that we are unaware of.

According to the Customs and Excise Department’s own words, as contained in its letter to Hilaire dated September 16th 2020, a request for the copy of the Supplier’s Invoice was made to Hilaire on December 23, 2015 by the Customs Officer detailed to examine Hilaire’s consignment from England.

A further request was made to Hilaire on February 2nd 2018 for a Purchase Invoice. Another request for documents was repeated by the Customs and Excise Department on February 21st 2018.

Things seemed to have died down after that last request from the Customs and Excise Department leaving many to speculate why the Department stopped, or appeared to have stopped, its investigation into Hilaire and the Range Rover Sport.

Why did it take the Customs and Excise Department two years and seven months to finally get around to threaten Hilaire with a withdrawal of the pre-delivery gesture that had been offered to him and which he took to get his vehicle out of the clutches of the Department?

There are many more questions to be put to the Customs and Excise Department on this matter.  It is reassuring that this tangled web will be settled in a court of law, as Hilaire has repeatedly said it would.

We call on Saint Lucians to withhold judgment and let this matter play out in the courts as it is only then we may get more than a snippet of the truth behind the different versions or episodes of the saga that is playing out before us.

Enough of the Hilaire say this and the government say that kind of scenario. We deserve to know the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  Let the matter unravel itself in a court of law, after which we, as a people, can react appropriately.

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