Hazel Wilmot has been formally rebuked for publicly demanding the resignations of the leaders of the island’s chamber of commerce, over the closure of the St Helena Independent.
A statement from the chamber – sent to this website by Ms Wilmot – says the owner of The Consulate Hotel in Jamestown has been given a “public censure”.
It says she treated the chamber council with contempt by going public without first discussing her concerns with fellow members.
She wrote an open letter about the chamber leaders’ involvement in the launch of the state-funded Sentinel newspaper, which prompted the closure of the privately-owned publication on 30 March 2012.
The government’s involvement in the affair led to a report in a UK national newspaper, The Independent.
Ms Wilmot says the chamber’s ruling council – of which she is a member – has ignored her concerns that the actions of the president and vice president, Stuart Moors and John Styles, have undermined confidence among potential investors in St Helena.
She has also sent this website copies of emails – some with the senders’ details removed – which she says are from would-be investors who have lost confidence in St Helena Government because it funded The Sentinel and allowed it to compete with a privately-owned company for advertising. It also switched its own advertising to the new newspaper, which launched on 29 March 2012.
The chamber council’s statement, issued nearly a week after a special meeting about the affair, says:
“Ms Wilmot expanded on the detail of the items in the list of accusations. The council discussed all of the issues but, as a whole, recognising that the Chamber is a voluntary body, felt unanimously that there was no case to answer.
The council also determined that the way that Ms Wilmot went about the raising of the issues was unacceptable. By not first raising any concern with the president or vice president, or indeed with the council, she has treated her fellow council members with contempt.
“She has publicly besmirched the names of two individuals, brought the chamber itself into disrepute, and openly impugned the integrity of the chamber council members.
“The council resisted more severe actions and were content to deliver a public censure to Ms Wilmot for her ill-advised action.”
In fact, the open letter was specifically aimed at Mr Moors and Mr Styles, and made no references to the integrity of other members of the chamber council.
The letter also said the leaders’ actions had:
- sown division among chamber members
- brought the St Helena Chamber of Commerce into disrepute, by [permitting] legislation to be formed that endangers the principal of free enterprise on St Helena, whilst in the positions you hold.
Ms Wilmot also accused the president and vice president of failing to tell members about the way in which The Sentinel’s publisher – the St Helena Broadcasting (Guarantee) Corporation – was being set up.
However, it emerged at the censure meeting that members had been informed, but Ms Wilmot was off the island at the time and the discussion was excluded from the minutes.
The agenda for the chamber AGM includes the election of officers, and representation on outside organisations. The chamber is a member of the “community-owned” new media organisation, and Mr Styles and Mr Moors are both directors.
Mr Styles proposed the setting up of the corporation after being asked for his advice by St Helena Government.
SEE ALSO the Media section of this website for a full list of stories and statements