FORMER solicitor general, Queen’s Counsel Michael Hylton has expressed confidence in the ability of Attorney General Dr Derrick McKoy QC to “speak truth to power”.
Hylton, addressing a special sitting of the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston on Monday when Dr McKoy was called to the Inner Bar, said given his track record of service over the decades Dr McKoy brought a great deal to the position of attorney general and leader of the Bar.
“He is of unquestioned integrity. He has had a distinguished career both practising at the private bar and in the public sector. I have known Dr McKoy for more than five decades. I have known him from a time when we both wore large afros and bell-bottomed pants and I know that he has another attribute that is very important to the position that he now holds — and that is that he is not afraid to speak truth to power,” Hylton said.
President of the Jamaican Bar Association, Alexander Williams in his own remarks echoed the sentiments of Hylton stating, “I fully expect that this attorney general will speak truth to power.
“I have no hesitation in saying that there can be no better person to swell the ranks of Queen’s Counsel than Mr Derrick McKoy. His public service, his contributions to the private Bar, are as long as my arm. I have mentioned to him that I consider his appointment a convergence that in short order I suspect constitutional matters will become high on the agenda of public discourse, and I cannot think of any more appropriate person to assist and drive that debate,” Williams added.
On Monday, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes, who presided over the ceremony, in his opening remarks said given that the attorney general is the leader of the Bar and has pre-eminence when appearing in court, even with senior members of the Bar, “it is only right and proper that the attorney general be elevated to the rank of Queen’s Counsel in order to enable him or her to discharge the many functions as efficiently as is possible”.
Dr McKoy in his reply, noting that law is his love and life, said he suspected his role as attorney general would be the last part of his career.
Dr McKoy is the twelfth attorney general since Independence. The calling to the Inner Bar Ceremony is a time-honoured tradition for members of the legal fraternity who have distinguished themselves in the field and in service to their country. Individuals are appointed Queen’s Counsel in Jamaica following recommendations from the Queen’s Counsel Committee and at the governor general’s assent. The attorney general is the principal legal advisor to the Government.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness in January appointed Dr McKoy to the post of attorney general following a major cabinet reshuffle.
Dr McKoy is a former contractor general of Jamaica and a former dean of the Faculty of Law, The University of the West Indies, Mona campus. He holds a doctorate in law from the University of Leicester, a doctorate in business administration from Nova Southeastern University, the LLM in International and Comparative Law from University College London, an MBA from Barry University, and the LLB from The University of the West Indies.
In 2016 Dr McKoy was awarded the Order of Distinction, in the rank of Commander (CD), for outstanding contribution to the legal profession and for public service in Jamaica.
McKoy replaced QC Marlene Malahoo Forte who became a full Cabinet minister following the creation of a new ministry — the Ministry of Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Malahoo Forte had been the country’s attorney general since 2016.