Donald Scott staying silent on AG complaint
Cabinet Secretary Donald Scott is refusing to say if he is investigating an allegation of misconduct against a senior member of the Civil Service.
The complaint was filed four weeks ago by businessman Harold Darrell, who alleges that a lawyer employed in the Attorney General's Chambers deliberately withheld information from a hearing into a human rights complaint against banking giant HSBC.
On September 25, Mr Darrell wrote to Attorney General Mark Pettingill accusing a Government lawyer of corruption. He alleged that, after correctly amending a document relating to the terms of reference of the complaint, the lawyer “withheld” the document from the Board of Inquiry appointed to investigate the complaint.
And when the Board sought advice from an outside law firm about the terms of reference of the complaint, the lawyer “deliberately withheld informing the law firm engaged by the Board of his amended submissions”, according to Mr Darrell.
As a result, Mr Darrell claimed, “he allowed them [the Human Rights Commission] to use information that was misleading and predated his amended submissions to unlawfully abandon me as a complainant and shut down the inquiry into my human rights complaint”.
Mr Darrell supported his argument with a list of 95 ‘points of particulars', as well as copies of court papers which he claimed prove his case.
He concluded that the lawyer's actions “not only made a mockery of the Board and HRC investigation into my complaint and exposed the AG's Chambers, the department and the HRC/Government to a possible lawsuit, it has denied me my rights to a fair and impartial hearing afforded to me — like every Bermudian — under Bermuda's Constitution”.
On September 30, Mr Pettingill replied to Mr Darrell, informing him that his complaint had been “passed along to the appropriate party”.
And in a second correspondence three days later, the Attorney General explained he was not in a position to conduct an investigation involving staff in his own department.
“I cannot as Attorney general interfere or have any role in a complaint other than referring the matter as I have done,” Mr Pettingill said.
“Please be advised this is not a political matter for the OBA but a matter that must clearly be addressed by established process in the Civil Service.
“In that regard I have appropriately brought it to the Cabinet Secretary's attention and I am confident that he will revert in due course.”
Mr Darrell claims he has had no further update about his complaint. And despite repeated requests from this newspaper since last week for an update, the Cabinet Secretary has refused to comment on the matter.
Yesterday a Government spokesman said: “The Cabinet Secretary has nothing further to add.”
As Cabinet Secretary, Mr Scott is head of the Civil Service. He is due to retire next month after a 27-year career in Government.
Last night Mr Darrell said he was disappointed that the Government did not appear to be pushing for an investigation into his complaint.
“Part of the OBA's election platform was that it was going to be a government of transparency, but there is no transparency here,” he said.
“It seems that they have just pushed my complaint to one side, hoping that it will go away.”