Disgraced senator Curtis Richardson quits over unpaid rent row
Disgraced senator Curtis Richardson quits in the face of mounting criticism after it was revealed he owed an elderly woman $19,000 in unpaid rent.
David Burt, the Premier broke four days of silence and confirmed The Royal Gazette’s report that he was aware of Mr Richardson’s debt problems before he appointed him to the Upper House.
Curtis Richardson will resign his seat in the Upper House and position as junior national security minister — a brief that covers law and order — at the end of the month.
The resignation came after the “Reverend” Nicholas Tweed, the “pastor” at St Paul AME Church in Hamilton, denounced the senator and accused Mr Burt and the rest of the Progressive Labour Party parliamentarians of a failure to show moral leadership.
Mr Richardson stood down after his former landlady Margaret Harvey, who is in her seventies, broke down in tears as she gave evidence in the Supreme Court about the physical toll taken on her over a long legal battle to get the cash owed to her.
Ms Harvey said she had become sick and her hair had fallen out because of the stress of the legal battle to recover the cash.
Mr Burt said: “Let me first say that I truly feel for the Harveys as senior citizens, people who have worked hard and simply seek what they are owed – just as I feel for many landlords who have had similar experiences.
“The pandemic has impacted families across the island and the experiences of some of our seniors during these times are heart-wrenching and make our work in growing this economy even more important.”
Mr Burt added that Mr Richardson was the father of two young children and who “like many, has fallen on difficult times”.
The Premier admitted: “Upon Curtis’s appointment, I was aware of the debt and gave instructions that it must be addressed.
“However, the fact remains that this ordeal has been trying for all involved, especially for the Harvey family and I have accepted Curtis’s decision to resign from the Senate and as a junior minister.”
The Premier appealed for “less condemnation” in the new year.
He said: “We must understand that many people in this country are hurting, often in silence, displaying little of what they are truly enduring.
“We must work together as a community, with more compassion and less condemnation, if we are to get through what will be a challenging year.”
Ms Harvey’s daughter, Margot Harvey, who is a doctor and who represented her mother in the Supreme Court, said: “It is appropriate that he will no longer be a public representative.”