Bermuda lawyers protest over DPP's reappointment
HAMILTON, Bermuda, Jan 24, CMC – At least 15 lawyers staged a walkout at a special sitting of the Supreme Court marking the ceremonial opening of the new legislative year in protest at the reappointment of Rory Field as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Friday's ceremony was opened by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley with Governor George Fergusson in attendance.
The walkout included some of the island’s best-known defence lawyers, including Craig Attridge, Auralee Cassady, Elizabeth Christopher, Marc Daniels, Larry Mussenden and Charles Richardson.
The group waited outside the courtroom during Field’s address.
“Many of us, as fellow Bermudian professionals, were disappointed by the non-appointment of one of our numbers who we know to be perfectly qualified to the position of DPP,” Christopher told reporters.
Asked if they faced possible censure for walking out on a court session presided over by the chief justice, Christopher replied: “We’re concerned by repercussions, but we have to do what’s right.”
Field, an English barrister, was officially reappointed as DPP this month by the Governor, sparking criticism from both political parties.
Premier Michael Dunkley said he had “strongly expressed” concerns about the reappointment of a non-Bermudian, promising to take the matter to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, while Shadow Attorney-General Michael Scott described the appointment as a “slap in the face”.
But Government House quickly came to the defence of Field with its own late-afternoon statement.
“I firmly support the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Rory Field, as he begins two further years in the role,” Fergusson said in a statement.
“He and his able team in the department have achieved and continue to achieve impressive results.
“As he set out at today’s special sitting of the court, the department’s record is excellent at home, respected internationally and, not least, Bermudians throughout the department have steadily achieved increasing seniority under his leadership. I wish him and his team well.”
Field, who first took up the post in 2007, was given another two years as DPP despite previous commitments to try to find a Bermudian to fill the job.
Dunkley has vowed to raise the appointment with British MP James Duddridge, who is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Junior Minister with responsibility for the UK Overseas Territories.
Field, who served as DPP in Belize from 1999 to 2001, was reappointed Bermuda's DPP in 2010, with the intention that he would be replaced by a Bermudian.
It was expected that Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Cindy Clarke would take over the job in 2013 -- but Field’s contract was extended for another year, sparking controversy among the legal profession.
Government House says the latest reappointment was made on the advice of the island's Judicial and Legal Services Committee.
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