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House: Moniz hits back at Crockwell

Trevor Moniz, the Attorney-General (File photograph)

A claim by Shawn Crockwell that the One Bermuda Alliance Government targeted his business was “incorrect”, according to Trevor Moniz, the Attorney-General.

Mr Moniz categorically denied that he ordered his former Cabinet colleague not to pursue any cases against the Bermuda Government.

However, Mr Crockwell shared the June 3 letter with this newspaper, pointing to language that he said warned him and his legal colleagues off such cases.

In his resignation speech on July 1, which followed his March 16 departure from Michael Dunkley’s Cabinet, Mr Crockwell said he had been the victim of “economic intimidation”.

“I was astonished to be told by a former Cabinet colleague that I cannot freely practise my profession in my country.”

Mr Crockwell is in a legal practice with Mark Pettingill, the former Attorney-General.

Rising yesterday in the House, Mr Moniz said he had sent the letter to Pettingill & Co Ltd objecting to their representation of a client who had a contract with the Government, which he said potentially breached the Barrister’s Code of Professional Conduct — since Mr Pettingill had served as AG from late 2012 to mid-2014, a time when the contract would have passed through his chambers.

He said both MPs could have applied to the Bar Council to be exempted from a prohibition against acting for a client in a situation where a lawyer had previously gained inside knowledge.

“This cannot be said to be an instruction or intimidation,” Mr Moniz told MPs.

Taking issue with the letter, Mr Crockwell had replied on June 7 stating that the firm had taken on Queen’s Counsel to look into the matter.

“I have not received a copy of the QC’s opinion which was promised me,” the AG added, calling himself “more than surprised” at the accusation.

But Mr Crockwell then approached The Royal Gazette, highlighting language that he said implied a total ban.

Mr Moniz had invited “you, your firm and anyone working for your firm, to remove yourselves from this matter” — and also to avoid representing “any other person against the Government in future”.

Speaking during the Motion to Adjourn last night, Mr Crockwell said that the matter at the heart of the legal case occurred in July 2012, months before the OBA was elected, and so there could not have been a conflict of interest.

“You can’t invite me blanketly not to represent anyone against the Government in the future,” he said. “There was no consideration about my business. No consideration about my ability to earn a living in my profession in my country.

“That doesn’t concern the Attorney-General. Why invite me not to freely practice my profession as he has had the opportunity to do throughout his entire career.”