Page last updated at 10:44 GMT, Friday, 30 October 2009

Travolta mistrial MP not charged

John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston
John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston gave evidence at the trial

Bahamian MP Picewell Forbes will not be charged with contempt of court despite causing a judge to order a retrial in the John Travolta blackmail case.

The judge acted after the MP wrongly announced that defendants had been cleared while the case was ongoing.

Tarino Lightbourne and Pleasant Bridgewater are accused of trying to extort millions from the star over the death of his teenage son Jett.

The judge said Forbes "suffered enough" by being "ridiculed internationally".

Mr Forbes made his announcement at last week's Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) party conference, which was being covered live on television and radio.

He told his party members that Ms Bridgewater, a former senator and a member of the PLP, had been acquitted - even though the jury was still deliberating.

Rumour repeated

Following the announcement, Supreme Court Justice Anita Allen said she was concerned about a possible leak from the jury room.

She was reluctant to order a new trial but had to do so "in the interest of justice".

I believe you have suffered greatly, you have been vilified throughout this nation and, indeed, the world
Supreme Court Justice Anita Allen to politician Picewell Forbes

Mr Forbes was then told by the judge he had a week to explain his actions and why he should not be held in contempt of court.

He later apologised for the gaffe, saying he had been repeating a rumour which he had not verified.

At a hearing on Thursday, the judge told Mr Forbes he had shown "a dangerous lack of appreciation" for the integrity of the Bahamian justice system.

But she said she had decided against a fine or a jail sentence and added: "I believe you have suffered greatly, you have been vilified throughout this nation and, indeed, the world."

The judge has yet to set a date for the retrial.

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

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

Ms Bridgewater is accused of trying to negotiate a $25m (£15m) payout for Mr Lightbourne, a paramedic who treated Jett.

It is claimed he threatened to sell stories suggesting Travolta was at fault over Jett's death.

Both Ms Bridgewater and Mr Lightbourne denied the charges.

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