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OBA demands answers on Attorney-General’s role in husband’s appointment

Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General (File photograph)

The Opposition has demanded to know if Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General, had any role in her husband being given a government contract worth almost $14,000 a month.

Scott Pearman, the Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, branded Myron Simmons a man “embroiled in controversy”.

The One Bermuda Alliance MP said: “When the Attorney-General’s husband is handed a government consulting contract worth almost $14,000 per month, the Opposition has a duty to ask why this happened.

“Just as important, what involvement might the Attorney-General have in this affair?

“The Attorney-General is an elected MP and a public official — the public are entitled to know what, if any, involvement the Attorney-General may have had with the consultancy contract secured for her husband.

“If the AG had no involvement whatsoever in the process, it is easy for her to say so.”

Mr Pearman added: “The Attorney-General’s husband, Myron Simmons, is already a figure embroiled in controversy.

“Mr Simmons used to hold the role of senior Crown counsel at the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

“There followed a slew of court claims against him, one or two claims made also against the Attorney-General herself.”

He said the Supreme Court handed down a judgment involving Myron Simmons on March 29, 2022.

“Mr Justice Mussenden expressed concern about the ‘suspicious conduct by [Mr Simmons] in respect of his handling of client funds’.

“The judge felt compelled to refer the matter to the Commissioner of Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions, among others.”

Mr Pearman added: “The surprise was, after his role as senior Crown counsel ended, Myron Simmons received a new consulting contract worth almost $14,000 per month.”

He also questioned why the Government left it to the PLP to respond after The Royal Gazette reported the story.

He said: “Curiously, neither the Attorney-General herself nor the Government has actually responded to the concerns raised by the Opposition in the House of Assembly on May 19.

“Instead, a response was deployed from an unnamed party spokesman from the Progressive Labour Party.”

In a response to OBA parliamentary questions, David Burt told MPs that Mr Simmons was listed as “counsel” with a contract worth $13,721.96 per month from April 1 to June 30.

The Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Reform previously told The Royal Gazette that Mr Simmons ended his employment as a civil servant on March 31.

A spokeswoman said: “There was a request by the advisory section of Chambers to engage him as a consultant to assist them in maintaining continuity in advisory functions and efficiencies while they conclude recruitment.

“There are four vacant posts in the section. This was approved by the Head of the Public Service in accordance with Financial Instructions.

“There are provisions that allow for the appointment of individuals or companies in specialised fields to provide temporary consultancy services.

“All the requisite rules and procedures were followed by the Public Service to approve the positions shared in answer to parliamentary questions on May 19, 2023.”

Mr Simmons failed to pay $52,000 in stamp duty on behalf of clients Gena and Richard Robinson when he was in private practice, according to a Supreme Court judgment issued last year.

Puisne Judge Larry Mussenden wrote: “ … it appears to me that the facts set out in the statement of claim give rise to suspicious conduct by the defendant in respect of his handling of client funds entrusted to him …

“Therefore, I am satisfied that it is just that I should refer this matter to the Commissioner of Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions for any action as appropriate …”

Police said in February that the case could not be “advanced” because the Robinsons had not made a criminal complaint.

The ruling by Mr Justice Mussenden came after the Robinsons brought a civil lawsuit against Mr Simmons; the Gazette is aware of at least 14 other civil cases filed in the past 15 years with the Supreme Court that name him as a respondent.

Five of them named Ms Simmons as co-defendant.

The Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Reform has refused repeatedly to say if Mr Simmons faced any disciplinary procedure in relation to Mr Justice Mussenden’s judgment because it does not “comment on personnel matters”.

The Government did not respond to a question about whether Mr Simmons resigned from his senior Crown counsel position or whether his new contract would be extended beyond June 30.

Ms Simmons did not respond to a question about whether any conflict arose for her in the awarding of a contract to her spouse by her ministry.

The Government has again been contacted for comment.