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Judge’s appointment delayed for Ewart Brown investigation

The top prosecutor’s appointment as a judge was held up for 16 months as a nine-year police investigation continued against a former premier, it was revealed yesterday.

Work on a case against Ewart Brown kept Larry Mussenden, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, in the role for more than a year to allow him to continue investigations into corruption allegations against the former Progressive Labour Party premier.

A letter from David Burt, the Premier, to a UK Foreign Office minister to complain about the time and money spent on the investigation was supplied by Dr Brown, who said he had received it anonymously.

Dr Brown claimed yesterday that he would soon be charged with corruption.

He said he had been told that Cindy Clarke, who succeeded Mr Mussenden as DPP when he became a puisne judge earlier this month, intended to “charge me with corruption dating back to when I was in office over ten years ago”.

Mr Burt said the case had cost $6 million, harmed the island’s reputation and appeared to be making little progress in the September letter to Baroness Sugg, a junior minister in the Foreign Office.

He added: “Fiscally and reputationally, Bermuda simply cannot afford this any longer.”

Baroness Sugg agreed the proceedings had taken a long time in a reply to Mr Burt the next month, but added that “much of the delay in the past two years has been on the part of the persons being investigated”.

Ms Clarke declined to comment on Dr Brown’s claim that he would soon face charges.

She said: "Every defendant will be tried by the justice system and not in the press.

“As such, it would be inappropriate for me to comment at this time.”

Ewart Brown, a former premier of Bermuda (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Dr Brown, premier from 2006 to 2010, has been under investigation since allegations were made about him under oath in the Supreme Court by David Bolden, a businessman in 2011.

Mr Bolden was eventually cleared, along with his wife Antoinette, of theft and money laundering, but found guilty of one count of misleading the Bermuda Monetary Authority.

Mr Bolden was later accused by Dr Brown of perjury.

Dr Brown, who retired from politics when he stood down as premier, said the accusations were “a lie then and it is a lie now”.

He added: “But more Bermudian taxpayer money will be spent chasing me to my grave, when the Bermudian people are crying out for help during an historic time of need, insecurity and fear.

Dr Brown insisted: “It is a lowdown, dirty shame because there was no corruption when I was in office.

“That will be proven after many more millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent.”

Dr Brown said the DPP was “very much aware” that he was to file “a Constitutional motion which alleges substantial breaches …”.

He claimed: “All should be aware that a substantial part of this investigation has been under the auspices of an unconstitutional gang called the Joint Investigation and Prosecution Team, on which the Deputy Governor, the UK FCO’s Overseas Territories Law Enforcement Adviser, the Commissioner of Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions sat and met weekly to ensure I was prosecuted.”

Dr Brown said the investigation was “unprecedented, illegal and racist”.

He added: “No politician in Bermuda has ever been prosecuted for ’political corruption’.”

A spokeswoman for Government House also declined to comment.

She said: “Prosecutions are a matter for independent decision by the Department of Public Prosecutions in accordance with Bermuda’s Constitution.”

A police spokesman said the service would not respond to “unfounded allegations”.

Mr Burt said in his letter to Baroness Sugg that he had raised the controversy with John Rankin, the Governor, and its “inordinate cost” to taxpayers in their regular meetings.

Mr Burt claimed the investigation had undermined confidence in Bermuda’s criminal justice system.

He said Mr Rankin had confirmed that Mr Mussenden’s appointment as a Puisne judge was “delayed pending the determination of this investigation”.

He said the police actions in the case had been challenged in the courts.

The Premier asked Baroness Sugg to note his concerns.

But Mr Burt said yesterday that his letter was not a request for the investigation to end.

Mr Burt declined to comment on whether he had raised any other police investigations with the Governor.

He said discussions between the two were confidential.

Baroness Sugg told Mr Burt in her reply that it was “a complex investigation requiring the examination of voluminous material and specialist assistance”.

She said she hoped a decision would be made soon in line with due process.

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