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Moniz misrepresented rules, says law expert

Attorney-General Trevor Moniz (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Trevor Moniz, the Attorney-General, misrepresented the conduct rules for barristers when he asked fellow One Bermuda Alliance MP Shawn Crockwell to avoid cases against the Government, according to independent legal council.

In resigning from the OBA as an independent MP, Mr Crockwell characterised the June 3 letter from Mr Moniz as “economic intimidation”.

The Attorney-General later told the House that his letter had been a suggestion in relation to a particular case, which involved the time spent as AG by Mark Pettingill, Mr Crockwell’s business partner.

However, Mr Moniz also told this newspaper that their past histories in Cabinet presented “a constant red flag” when it came to cases against the Government.

Mr Crockwell, the AG noted, had vowed to seek a legal opinion from Queen’s Counsel.

Yesterday’s response, from Jerome Lynch QC, maintained that Pettingill & Co Ltd were “not in breach of any rules of the Barristers Code of Conduct”. Obtained by The Royal Gazette, Mr Lynch’s letter said that Mr Moniz had made too much of Mr Pettingill’s previous role. The QC also said it was “misconceived” for Mr Moniz to impose a kind of “blanket ban”.

Mr Lynch said the legal rules, as cited by the AG, were designed to stop a barrister from taking unfair knowledge of a former client relationship.

Mr Pettingill, the QC added, is “simply not in possession of material information, which would not properly have become available to him in his new capacity”.

The basis for their client’s complaint against the Bermuda Police Service predated Mr Pettingill’s appointment as Attorney-General, leaving “simply not enough to fall foul of the Rule of which you complain”.

“If there is some specific material that you maintain Mr Pettingill is seized of that is both relevant and confidential then please identify it.”

Mr Lynch’s opinion maintains that Mr Moniz had read “too much” into the rules cited.

The letter calls for the Attorney-General to reconsider his position “on mature reflection”.