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Who has failed whom over the DPP decision?

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John Barritt (Photo by Akil Simmons)

The DPP decision was as confounding as it was disappointing, Mr Editor, on two fronts.

We know this much: the appointment is in the discretion of the Governor. The Bermuda Constitution Order does not require him to consult with anyone or any one body. He is free to appoint as he sees fit. Mind you, he did tell us that HE did do some consulting; his decision was in line with advice received from a “Judiciary and Legal Services Committee”.

For sure, HE is not meant to be (nor should he allow himself to be) subject to political pressures or any other pressures, for that matter. Those sort of considerations come into play when the Attorney-General, Government’s principal legal adviser, is chosen from among our legislators and thus becomes a political appointment. The DPP instead is meant to have exclusive and absolute control of criminal prosecutions, free from any political interference or influence.

But here’s the rub: we were told that the eventual goal was to have a Bermudian take on the job — and not by the Government of the day, but by the Governor himself.

It looked and sounded very much like a commitment that was reportedly repeated every step of the way, as I recall, and certainly each time the existing post-holder was reappointed. We could all be forgiven for believing that a Bermudian was being trained to take on the job; indeed, a Bermudian has been serving as deputy for some years now.

Yet that is not that way it has worked out. An apparent commitment has not been kept. The immediately simple and obvious question arises for answer: who has failed whom here?

What we do know is what we are told and what we were told was that subsequent developments made the appointment of a Bermudian untenable. Hmmm. But inquiring minds want to know more and, in the absence of information, there is plenty of open speculation as to what has gone on.

Here’s a sample of what is reportedly making the rounds:

• “Something” occurred between the deputy DPP and the Governor so as to impact their working relationship and which HE is not prepared to overlook, forgive and/or forget;

• The candidate or candidates (there may have been more than one) are not considered capable;

• The DPP is working hard on a really big difficult and complex case, and he is needed to stay the course (and, of course, everyone also thinks they know what this is all about);

• No Bermudian will ever qualify as DPP, much like no Bermudian is likely to ever qualify or be suitable for appointment as Governor.

There may other suspected reasons. You probably have your own. Point is: we have been given lots of room and reason to speculate.

To add to the disappointment, and the confusion, we have the Bermuda Government, through the Premier, expressing concern over the Governor’s decision and promising to take up the issue with the appropriate authorities in London.

First, good luck with that. Bermuda has been down that road before, unsuccessfully.

Second, and here, too, is the rub: if there is a good reason, you would have thought that the Governor would have already shared that reason with the Premier and his Cabinet privately and confidentially — and if not informally, then formally around the table at the Governor’s council.

If HE has shared the reason, there are two conclusions: one, Government doesn’t accept it as a good reason, or two, Government’s position is just for political show. If HE hasn’t shared the reason, then our Government ought to be thinking about protesting more than just the DPP decision.

Meanwhile, the rest of us remain not only without a Bermudian DPP, but in the dark as well, which is not a very satisfactory state of affairs.

Walkout: Lawyers protested against the reappointment of Rory Field as Director of Public Prosecutions by leaving a special sitting of the Supreme Court on Friday
Rory Field, Director of Public Prosecutions