By Theresa Goodwin
“I forgive you” are the words former Education Minister Michael Browne yesterday sent his accuser in his recently concluded criminal trial. He also made claims that several persons colluded to blackmail him in the wake of the allegations late last year.
The All Saints West MP was last week acquitted of two serious criminal charges brought against him which cannot be cited for legal reasons.
Browne spoke openly about his legal battles, including his lack of confidence in the police force, during an online town hall meeting with constituents broadcast on his personal Facebook page on Sunday.
“I forgive my accuser, and I forgive those who would have collaborated. I forgive you because God forgives me for my sins and for my trespasses.
“But most importantly I forgive you because when you thought that you were doing me wrong what you did not realise was that you were actually building me,” he said.
Browne, who has maintained his innocence from the outset, said he is immensely grateful for his legal team and others who believed him and supported him throughout the proceedings.
He went on to claim that the case was part of a wider conspiracy to tarnish his name and character, alleging that some people had told him they were promised money if they took to the stand and testified against him.
Browne even claimed he had received calls from a police officer informing him that the case would not be tried if he agreed to pay an undisclosed sum of money.
“The promise was that if I was to make a certain amount of payments this matter would never go to court.
“I had never been blackmailed this directly before. So I resisted, and after I resisted charges were brought. But I was comfortable because I knew that the facts spoke for themselves and the reality is in court; it is not just what you hear in the streets,” he said.
Browne continued that when the reports were made against him, he called the police for days on end “to have a discussion” but to no avail.
Efforts to get them to inspect his vehicle where the alleged incident took place also failed, he claimed.
“In these types of cases, the judge gives you three options; sit quiet and not say anything, give a statement and not subject yourself to cross-examination, or give sworn testimony and allow yourself to be cross-examined. I chose option three because I wanted to tell my story and relay the facts as they are,” the MP said.
Browne also expressed sympathy to influential men in society who he claimed have been forced to pay out thousands of dollars to prevent allegations of a similar nature from heading to court, and have continued to pay out of fear their reputations would be dragged through the gutter.
He added that he intends to eventually write and publish a book entitled “Wrongfully Accused”.
Police have been approached for comment on the MP’s allegations. No response was received up to press time.