Turks and Caicos attorney general resigns
Turks and Caicos Islands — Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) Attorney General Huw Shepheard has tended his resignation effective November 1, 2013. He has also given notice of his intention to file legal action against the TCI government for reputational and other damages.
|Attorney General Huw Shepheard|
Since this matter is now subject to legal proceedings, the TCI Governor’s Office said in a press statement on Wednesday that no further comment will be issued.
The government said it is keen to ensure that the work of the Attorney General’s Chambers continues to progress and, as such, Rhondalee Braithwaite will be sworn in as acting attorney general.
Work will begin soon to find a substantive successor to Shepheard, the Governor’s Office said.
In a statement acknowledging Shepheard’s resignation, the Premier’s Office also indicated that no further comment would be provided on this matter, except to say that the government will seek legal guidance in its response should defence of the government becomes necessary.
In what was described as an unprecedented move, TCI premier, Dr Rufus Ewing, recently issued a summons in the Supreme Court against Shepheard.
The summons, filed in Ewing’s name, asks the court to determine: “Whether on the true construction of the TCI Constitution Order 2011, or any other provisions of the constitution, the AG is authorised to institute and prosecute civil proceedings on behalf of the government of the TCI.
“And to defend proceedings brought against the government without informing Cabinet of his intention to institute and prosecute such proceedings; and without obtaining the prior approval of the Cabinet for the institution, prosecution or defence of such proceedings except where such proceedings involve matters on which the government is not required to consult and act in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet.”
A subsequent statement issued by the leader of the opposition Sharlene Cartwright Robinson was critical of Ewing for wasting his and his ministers’ time trying to attack Shepheard.
Cartwright Robinson asserts that this latest legal filing is as a result of Shepheard’s action to recover possession of Crown land on which Ewing’s Progressive National Party (PNP) “squatted” for its headquarters building.
The ongoing campaign against the attorney general is widely perceived to be an attempt to exert political control over what is constitutionally a non-political and non-partisan office, with the ultimate aim to forestall the ongoing prosecution of former government ministers on corruption charges.
Further, the elected ministers seem now to have done the very thing for which they have vigorously criticised Shepheard, namely, exposing the TCI taxpayers to substantial legal costs and damages as a result of ill-advised actions.