Former Education Minister Michael Browne has been bailed on criminal charges pending his next court appearance slated for March 23.
Browne was yesterday replaced in the position he has held since June 2014 by Daryll Matthew who previously had the portfolio of sports and culture.
The charges laid against Browne cannot be disclosed for legal reasons. He appeared before Magistrate Ngaio Emanuel-Edwards yesterday morning and was released on $15,000 bail.
The 44-year-old was also ordered to surrender his travel documents and report to All Saints Police Station three times a week.
Reports that Browne had quit his post swirled on social media on Wednesday night. Information Minister Melford Nicholas told journalists during a post-Cabinet press briefing on Thursday that ministers had been informed of the news by Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
“The Prime Minister did notify the Cabinet … that he had been informed by the ‘high command’ that Minister Browne was arrested and charged … and so accordingly he would have been in a position to advise the Governor General to bestow the portfolio for education, science and technology upon Minister Daryll Matthew,” Nicholas said.
“The Prime Minister did further assert that the minister has maintained his innocence and requires the support of his colleagues to ensure that he is able to address this matter via the legal channels to absolve himself of this particular situation.”
Whether or not Browne resigned or was fired by the Prime Minister remains unclear. The PM did not respond to requests for clarity up to press time.
“The Prime Minister did not indicate that,” Nicholas said in response to questions from journalists.
“All that the note said to us Cabinet colleagues is that he would be notifying the Governor General to make the change.
“I am not able to indicate with any degree of certainty whether or not it came via resignation or that the Prime Minister himself would have relieved the minister. It was clear that this was going to be the ultimate outcome of charges being laid against the minister one way or the other,” he added.
MP Browne has held the All Saints West seat for more than six years.