Office of DPP cannot be influenced by politics, says attorney
ATTORNEY Allan Wood, King’s Counsel (KC), insisted on Tuesday that the move to extend the tenure of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn was in no way enacted to interfere or influence her in the discharge of her functions as DPP.
The retirement age for the DPP was moved from 60 to 65.
Wood, who is one of four attorneys-at-law representing the Government in the Supreme Court in a civil lawsuit which was filed by two executive members of the People’s National Party (PNP) — Member of Parliament Phillip Paulwell and Senator Peter Bunting — said it is an unreasonable inference to draw that the amendment to the Act somehow interferes with the functions of the DPP or makes her subjected to political interference.
“The position is an entrenched position that says in the exercise of the powers conferred, the DPP shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or body. There is nothing in the amended Act that brings the DPP under the direction or control of political executives or in any way attempt to control or interfere with the discharge of functions.
“The Act, I would suggest, by extending her tenure, is in keeping with what has been clear government policy since 2011, to bring all public officers to a retirement age of 65. You are, in fact, strengthening her rather than, as suggested, interfering. There is nothing in the Act that can be said to conflict with Section 94, Subsection 6. There remains a safeguard, which is Section 96, Subsection 4, that says the DPP remains subject to removal from office if there is misbehaviour or an inability to discharge the functions of the office,” Wood said, emphasising that the element of protection has not been altered or interfered with.
“That, too, is an entrenched provision,” he said.
When the proceedings started in the Supreme Court, Kevin Powell, one of the lawyers representing the claimants, said on Monday that, “One of the grounds on which the claim is advanced is the separation of powers.”
Powell added that, “There is a well-established principle that the constitution grants powers to specified persons and other persons cannot exercise those powers. The power to extend the term of office is vested in the executive branch of Government, the governor general, the prime minister, and the leader of the Opposition.”
The PNP is also being represented by Michael Hylton, KC; Duane Allen and Timera Mason.
Also representing the Government are Ransford Braham, KC; Neco Pagon and Kathryn Williams.
Judges Sonya Wint, Simone Wolfe Reece, and Tricia Hutchinson Shelly are presiding over the four-day proceedings.
The matter continues today.