Page last updated at 10:54 GMT, Friday, 23 October 2009 11:54 UK

'Rumour' caused Travolta mistrial

John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston
John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston attended the original trial

A Bahamian politician has said he was repeating a rumour when he prematurely announced the accused had been cleared in the John Travolta extortion case.

Picewell Forbes' declaration at a party conference - covered by live TV - came before the jury finished deliberations, causing the judge to order a retrial.

Mr Forbes' lawyer said he had not verified the information beforehand.

Pleasant Bridgewater and Tarino Lightbourne are accused of trying to extort $25m (£15m) from the actor.

Mr Forbes told the conference that Ms Bridgewater, a former senator and a member of Mr Forbes' Progressive Liberal (PLP) party, had been acquitted.


His lawyer said that the information had been circulating around the party convention.

Mr Forbes has been told by Judge Anita Allen that he has a week to explain his actions and why he should not be held in contempt of court.

The judge, who has yet to set a date for the retrial, expressed concerns that there may have been a direct leak from the jury room - prompting her declaration of mistrial.

Pleasant Bridgewater
Pleasant Bridgewater faces a retrial

Representatives of the PLP later issued an apology for Mr Forbes' announcement, saying it was "incorrect".

A spokesman for Travolta said he was "disappointed" in the mistrial outcome.

Ms Bridgewater and Mr Lightbourne are accused of blackmailing the film star in the wake of his 16-year-old son Jett's death in the Bahamas in January, from a seizure disorder.

Ms Bridgewater is accused of trying to negotiate a $25m (£15m) payout for Mr Lightbourne, a paramedic. It is claimed he threatened to sell stories suggesting Travolta was at fault over Jett's death.

A form, signed by Travolta after his son's death, would have released the ambulance driver of liability had Jett been flown to the US from the Bahamas for treatment, as the actor had initially wanted.

However, the 16-year-old ended up being taken to a local hospital where he later died.

Both Ms Bridgewater and Mr Lightbourne denied the original charges.

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