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Bermuda Premier hits out against appointment of new Chief Justice

Published:Thursday | April 26, 2018 | 9:30 AM
Bermuda Premier David Burt - CMC photo

HAMILTON, Bermuda, Apr 26, CMC — Premier David Burt has hit out over the choice of British lawyer and long-time Bermuda resident Narinder Hargun as the island’s new Chief Justice.

Burt, whose Progressive Labour Party (PLP) came to power in last July’s general election, said the appointment of 63-year-old Hargun in place of Bermudian Ian Kawaley was “an affront” to the government.

Kawaley is stepping down on July 14.

The appointment — made by the island’s Judicial and Legal Service Committee — was announced on Wednesday by Governor John Rankin.

Burt said his government did not support the appointment and he had told the Governor that during the consultation process.

“The Governor did consult with me and I shared with him that this government could not support the recommendation of the Judicial and Legal Services Committee. We were elected to represent the people of Bermuda and to bring meaningful change to this country.

“The views we express are founded in the convincing mandate to govern which was given to us by an overwhelming majority of the people. Every Bermudian should be concerned that this mandate can be ignored and discarded by a process that cannot be molded to reflect their will through the existing consultative process,” Burt added.

Hargun will succeed Kawaley, who took up the post from Englishman Richard Ground in 2012.

Highlighting Hargun’s qualifications and experience in the courts, Rankin said he is “a highly regarded lawyer both within Bermuda and internationally.

“He has over 35 years of professional legal experience, appearing as counsel in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the Privy Council and serving as an Assistant Justice of the Supreme Court since 2011.

“I am confident that his legal expertise and management experience in the legal profession will serve the Supreme Court well, helping to maintain the island’s standing as a legal jurisdiction of the highest order”.

But Burt said “Bermudians must feel that fairness, equity and above all justice can be found in all our courts.

“After 50 years of this constitutionally sanctioned disrespect, this is the latest example of this modern era of democracy being frustrated by the application of standards from the last century.”

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