Phillips responds to extension of DPP's tenure

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Phillips responds to extension of DPP's tenure

Thursday, July 09, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips says he is seeking to set the record straight regarding comments he made about the extension of the tenure of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Paula Llewellyn.

Below is the full text of his statement, issued yesterday, in response to Prime Minister Andrew Holness announcing yesterday that the DPP's tenure would be extended for three years:

“There has been much public commentary recently concerning the extension of the tenure of the DPP. I have expressed my views on this matter to the prime minister and the governor general and these have also become the subject of some public commentary.

I have refrained from any comments in this matter since the views that I expressed to the prime minister and the governor general were in keeping with my constitutional duty, as leader of the Opposition, and were confidentially communicated. Indeed, I am of the view that the framers of the Constitution intended that there be a frank and free-flowing dialogue between the relevant officials of State in order that the public interest be served.

However, recent developments, including comments made by the prime minister, compel me to set elements of the record straight.

The facts are:

The prime minister wrote to me on February 7, 2020 regarding the request from the DPP to have her tenure extended for five years.

I replied to the prime minister on March 2, 2020 outlining the views of the Opposition.

To date, I have had no response from the prime minister.

Subsequently, in May, following communication with me from the governor general, I communicated directly with him.

At no time did I say, as the prime minister stated, nor has anyone else speaking on my behalf said, that the appointment of a new DPP should be withheld in order to facilitate a new administration, or any incoming Government. Any suggestion in that regard is palpably false. That type of fabrication by the prime minister is totally unacceptable.

In fact, a new administration would have no role in the appointment of a DPP since such an appointment is done by the Public Services Commission. It is only extensions of the tenure of the DPP that require consultation between the prime minister and the leader of the Opposition and in this instant case, that would have to be completed before September of this year. As there is no Constitutional requirement that could enforce the calling of elections prior to September, such was never a consideration.

It should also be clear that this exchange of letters took place long before there were any of the current discussions about the DPP's findings in relation to Miss [Lisa] Hanna or any other Member of Parliament as is being implied in some parts of the press.

The matter of the DPP's extension of tenure has been done in keeping with the constitutional requirements. That is a settled matter.

The vigilance of the People's National Party (PNP) is aimed at ensuring that all agencies of State connected with the effort to rid the country of corruption will be given priority. Every effort will be made under a PNP government to improve the “architecture of accountability” so as to engender public trust and facilitate the inclusive economic growth that is the desire of all well-thinking Jamaicans.”

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