Attorney says he expected DPP ruling in Shernet Haughton CaseThursday, April 23, 2015
THE attorney representing disgraced former Lucea Mayor Shernet Haughton yesterday said he had no doubt that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) would not have been able to charge his client.
"It is a ruling I anticipated, given the circumstances of the case being made up against Miss Haughton," attorney Delford Morgan told the Jamaica Observer after news emerged that DPP Paula Llewellyn advised yesterday that no criminal charges could be brought against Haughton in relation to her involvement in the awarding of nearly $4 million in contracts to her relatives.
"I expected it. I was confident that it would have gone no other way," Morgan said, arguing that the allegations made against his client would not have reached the level to mount a credible prosecution.
Last night, Haughton could not be reached for a comment, but Morgan said she was very elated about the DPP's decision.
Llewellyn said that, despite overwhelming evidence of nepotism in Haughton's actions, "that by itself is not an offence known to the criminal law..."
She said that the contracts awarded to Haughton's relatives are not deemed criminal for the purpose of the Public Sector Procurement Regulations 2008, because none of the contracts that were paid out were above the $500,000 threshold for greater scrutiny.
In a report tabled in the House of Representatives on March 24, Contractor General Dirk Harrison had recommended that Haughton relinquish her post as councillor for the Green Island Division of the Hanover Parish Council.
The report said that the investigation by the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) had shown that Haughton recommended the awarding at least $3.7 million worth of contracts to family members and close friends during her two years as mayor of the rural town.
The OCG said that family members who benefited included her spouse, Michael Grant; her son, Rayon Williams; her daughter, Nicollette Grant; her brother, Devon Haughton; her sister, Donola Levarrity; her sister-in-law, Carole Grant Haughton; her niece, Sherriola Johnson; her brother-in-law, Petan Grant; and her sister, Sharon Haughton.
However, the $3.7 million was much less than the $15 million that other councillors in the local government authority had allegedly shared out during her brief tenure as mayor of the town and chairman of the Hanover Parish Council.
The OCG indicated that it could only clearly establish 12 per cent of that figure as representing funds awarded to the individuals connected to Haughton.
Yesterday, Llewellyn said that, although there was no criminal prosecution that could be mounted against Haughton for any offence arising from her conduct, "strong administrative action or sanction" should be taken against Haughton by the relevant policy makers, and/or authority with ultimate responsibility for the parish councils, as is deemed appropriate.