EDITORIAL - The Harrison-Llewellyn tango
ANY INITIAL observation about Dirk Harrison's appointment as Jamaica's contractor general is that it will change the public tone and style of the office.
On the matter of substance, we have no reason to believe that Mr Harrison will be any less a tenacious watchdog against public corruption than his predecessor, Greg Christie.
But a so far little commented on factor - and a matter to watch - is the dynamic that is likely to emerge in the relationship between the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) under Mr Harrison and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), where he was a senior deputy and Paula Llewellyn is still in charge.
With regard to our initial point, Mr Harrison is a mild-mannered, soft-spoken man who, on the face of it, preferred the quiet of the back room, mapping the cases he prosecuted. He was sparing in his media engagements - even in high-profile cases he won.
In that sense, he is different to Mr Christie, who issued media releases with the frequency of Jamaican potholes - not only about elements of his investigations but in response to almost every statement about the OCG that had a whiff of inaccuracy.
The great upside to Mr Christie's strategy is that it lifted the profile of his office as well as the issue of public-sector corruption and caused public servants, afraid of his public scolding, to be increasingly compliant with procurement rules. Mr Christie's critics, however, argued that he drove the public sector to inertia, slowing decision-making, thus undermining projects critical to national development.
We are certain that Dirk Harrison will find his own voice. We hope it will be effective.
On the matter of the dynamic between the OCG and the DPP, what happens, under the laws as they now stand, is crucial to a successful fight against public corruption. While the OCG investigates and recommends prosecutions, it is the DPP that decides whether a case is worthy of going to court.
CHRISTIE'S SOBER SUCCESSOR
It was Greg Christie's perennial complaint that the Office of the DPP, under Ms Llewellyn, did not sufficiently prosecute cases referred to it. His attitude appeared to soften a bit when corruption matters were assigned to Mr Harrison.
We, therefore, read much in Mr Christie's comment on his successor's appointment: "We have relied on his counsel and guidance and I have, at all times, found his advice, as a criminal law practitioner, to be sober, comprehensive, sound and incisive."
In other words, he seems to be saying the problem was elsewhere, other than with Dirk Harrison.
Whatever may have been the state of their relationship at the Office of the DPP, it is now a new tango between Paula Llewellyn and Dirk Harrison. We hope that they find a workable rhythm, in step with the desire of Jamaica to eliminate corruption, while being fair to all stakeholders.
But we perceive Mr Harrison's appointment as an interim development. The next move must be a single anti-corruption agency with prosecutorial powers.
The opinions on this page, except for the above, do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner. To respond to a Gleaner editorial, email us: firstname.lastname@example.org or fax: 922-6223. Responses should be no longer than 400 words. Not all responses will be published.