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DPP defends role in Joseph Hibbert corruption probe

Published:Wednesday | June 19, 2013 | 9:08 AM

Director of Public Prosecutions, Paula Llewellyn is defending her office’s role in the corruption probe involving former government minister, Joseph Hibbert who died on Saturday.

Hibbert was accused of corruption after British bridge-building company, Mabey & Johnson confessed in the United Kingdom to paying him kickbacks.

In 2009, following an investigation, former Contractor General, Greg Christie had recommended that Hibbert be charged for corruption, perjury and for breaching the Contractor General Act.

In a statement last night, Llewellyn said at the time of Hibbert’s death, the investigation was far advanced with Jamaican authorities set to visit the UK as part of an evidence gathering expedition.

She noted that her office was not an investigative body and acted as the central authority between the UK and local law enforcers under the mutual legal assistance treaty.

Llewellyn says the OCG’s recommendation that Hibbert be criminally prosecuted could not form the basis for her office to rule that criminal charges be brought against the former Member of Parliament.

She explained that the OCG's report was based primarily on documents and statements gathered by the United Kingdom Serious Fraud Office and could not pass the legal threshold required to mount a prosecution in Jamaican courts.

The DPP says it is only after a file has been compiled by the police investigators that it would be appropriate for her office to exercise its constitutional function as a prosecuting authority.

Llewellyn says her office is now awaiting an official position on the investigation from the lead police investigator, Senior Superintendent of Police, SSP Fitz Bailey who is in the process of obtaining documentation to submit as proof of Joseph Hibbert’s death. 

She says this is necessary so her office can communicate this status officially to the Central Authority of the United Kingdom.

On Monday, SSP Fitz Bailey said there was no basis for any further enquiry given that the subject of the police investigations is now dead.

In his report, Greg Christie had said Hibbert, who served as a technical director in the Ministry of Transport and Works, breached government regulations when he accepted payments from the firm between 1993 and 2003.

Hibbert denied the allegations and subsequently resigned as junior minister and did not offer himself as a candidate in the last general election. 

The Jamaica Labour Party has called for Hibbert's name to be cleared as no evidence has been brought to support the allegations.


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