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Nine of 36 posts in the Attorney General’s Chambers unfilled

A quarter of the jobs in the Attorney General’s Chambers are vacant, including the posts of Solicitor General and Deputy Solicitor General.

The news came as former Attorney General Phil Perinchief, 67, said he’s contemplating legal action over his repeated failure to land the role of Solicitor General.

He accused Government of age discrimination in refusing to give him the job.

Detailing the budget for the Ministry of Justice in the House of Assembly, Government MP Michael Scott said there are 36 posts in the Attorney General’s Chambers.

He listed nine vacancies among them, saying: “They are the Solicitor General, one deputy Solicitor General, six Crown counsel and one parliamentary counsel.

“We are awaiting the completion of the recruitment process for three Crown counsels and we anticipate filling three of the six Crown counsel posts by April of this year.”

He made no reference to the recruitment process for the other vacant roles including that of Solicitor General; the top Government lawyer advising on civil law matters.

As of April 2011 it was held by British lawyer Barrie McKay, but the post was advertised that month for a salary of $177,355 per year and with a closing date of April 23 2011.

According to Mr Perinchief, Mr McKay left his post not long after that date and returned to his home country.

He said Melvin Douglas, who is usually one of two deputy solicitors general, has been working as the Acting Solicitor General since then.

Mr Perinchief applied for the top post but was rejected. He had previously made an unsuccessful application in 2007, but was beaten to it by Mr McKay.

Mr Perinchief alleged at that time that he had fallen victim to political bias against him.

He had recently lost his position as Attorney General, Bermuda’s top Government lawyer, in a Cabinet reshuffle carried out by Premier Ewart Brown.

When Mr McKay was given the position instead of him, Mr Perinchief took the matter to court.

He claimed he was the only Bermudian among eight applicants shortlisted for the position and should have won it.

He sought almost $1 million in damages but the Court of Appeal rejected his application for a judicial review of the decision.

Yesterday, Mr Perinchief, who has 27 years of experience as a barrister, said he is again contemplating legal action over his latest failed bid to get the job.

He said: “I have received the expected rejection letters for both the Solicitor General’s position as well as a recently advertised four-month temporary Crown counsel post, notwithstanding the dearth of both numbers of counsel and expertise in the Attorney General’s Chambers presently.

“I have it on good authority and very reliable sources however, that this time around, despite being recommended to the Public Service Commission for the position of Solicitor General, I have fallen victim to the prevalent and virulent strain of ageism and age-discrimination raging throughout Bermuda generally and the Civil Service in particular.”

Referring to Government’s policy of cutting Civil Service positions by not replacing retirees, Mr Perinchief alleged: “It appears that once one reaches the magic number of 65 then one’s brain and prodigious talents immediately turn to mush transforming one into a doodling, nonplussed idiot.

“You may expect many, many more selected firings of civil servants facing the same fate soon.

“This policy of the present PLP administration, under the mistaken guise of attrition, of course is challengeable among other grounds, as being patently backward and woefully out of step with the enlightened, democratic and progressive world and certainly Human Rights legislation of forward-thinking people overseas and here at home.”

Families Minister Glenn Blakeney said in May 2011 that Government has “led the way in prohibiting discrimination in employment based on age” as it has amended the Public Service Commission Regulations to employ civil servants up to the age of 70, under specified circumstances.

The Royal Gazette invited Minister of Justice and Attorney General Kim Wilson to comment on the number of vacant posts in her chambers and on Mr Perinchief’s concerns, but she had not done so by press time.

Phil Perinchief

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Published March 21, 2012 at 9:00 am (Updated March 21, 2012 at 9:58 am)

Nine of 36 posts in the Attorney General’s Chambers unfilled

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