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Role of British lawyer questioned

The enlisting of a British lawyer as a prosecutor has raised renewed questions about hiring practices at the Director of Public Prosecutions' office.

The secondment of Alan Richards to the role of Crown counsel comes at a time when Bermudianisation at the DPP's office is already contentious.

In January, lawyers conspicuously showed their disapproval of the non-appointment of a Bermudian to the office of DPP by walking out of a special sitting of the Supreme Court.

The appearance of Mr Richards this month as a prosecutor in Magistrates' Court elicited surprise from some counsel.

Mr Richards' profile at the website for London barristers Five Paper states that he has been seconded to Bermuda's DPP, and will not be available in the UK until September 2016. The Royal Gazette spoke with Bermudian defence counsel Elizabeth Christopher, who questioned how Mr Richards was able to hold the post — unless he has been appointed as an officer under the Bermuda Constitution.

“There is someone appearing on behalf of the DPP's office and I am not exactly sure under what authority,” she said.

“I don't recall that job being advertised. I also understand he may be here as a consultant, which makes me question by what right he appears in court. Is he a consultant or Crown counsel?

“If he is a consultant, then I don't understand why he is appearing in court, with junior counsel helping him do plea court.

“My concern is that there must be a Bermudian capable of doing a job at that level.”

She said that under section 71 of the Bermuda Constitution, the powers of the DPP could only be delegated to persons subordinated to him.

The hiring of a consultant does not need to be advertised, which also raised eyebrows, Ms Christopher added.

Questions over the appointment received no response from the Ministry of Legal Affairs, which encompasses court services and the DPP's office. A spokesman for the Bermuda Bar Association offered limited comment, replying with the following:

“Bar Council is not in the practice of commenting to the press regarding individual members.

“However, I can tell you that Crown counsel employed with the DPP and the AG's Chambers do not need to meet the 12 month residency requirement prior to admission to the Bermuda Bar.

“They do not require a physical Practising Certificate from the Association, however they are required to become a member of the Association and pay membership dues.”

Lawyer Elizabeth Christopher

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Published March 27, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated March 27, 2015 at 12:56 am)

Role of British lawyer questioned

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