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Attorney general's contract extension provokes vigorous reaction
Published on August 24, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

Monday’s announcement by Governor Ric Todd that the contract of the Turks and Caicos Islands attorney general Huw Shepheard is being extended by 36 months until September 2016 has prompted vigorous reactions from both political parties. Shepheard has been attorney general since September 2010.

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Attorney General Huw Shepheard
"I have made the decision to extend Mr Shepheard's contract based on his pivotal role in the reform of the laws of the TCI during the term of the Interim Administration, and believe that his staying on provides essential stability and continuity to the territory as it continues to demonstrate to investors and visitors that we are a well governed nation," said Todd.

The governor made the public announcement after first informing the Premier Dr Rufus Ewing at their weekly bilateral meeting on Monday.

The governor confirmed Shepheard's extension in line with the powers given to his office by the TCI Constitution section 91(2).

Shepheard said, "I am delighted to be asked to continue to serve the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands as attorney general. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Chambers, in Cabinet and in the House of Assembly to continue the reform of the laws of the Islands to provide for sustainable development and the maintenance of good governance."

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Premier Rufus Ewing
However, in a subsequent press statement, Ewing described Todd’s decision to renew Shepheard’s contract as “a total disregard for the people of these islands and the Office of the Premier”.

Ewing said he informed the governor that he was not in support of the renewal of the attorney general’s contract for several reasons, all of which he outlined to the governor.

The main concern that the premier raised with the governor was the fact that there are many qualified TCI lawyers who are capable of efficiently performing the roles and functions of the attorney general, including the current deputy attorney general Rhondalee Braithwaite Knowles.

The premier said he has constantly agitated for the employment of qualified Turks and Caicos Islanders in key positions within government and the private sector alike and sees this appointment as counter-productive to the advancement of the local people.

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Opposition leader Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson
Similarly, opposition leader Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson said, “Unfortunately, I am not surprised by the governor's announcement of a further three-year contract for the attorney general. It was done recently with the police commissioner and the director of the Financial Services Commission. At least he announced this one and it didn't have to be forced out through questions asked in Parliament.”

She pointed out that, just a few months ago, the government called for the AG's recall.

“I'm sure the government must now feel slighted and disrespected,” she added.

Cartwright-Robinson said the opposition has found the current AG to be less than very helpful to opposition members in Parliament.

“He unfortunately does not seem to want to be held into account by answering questions in Parliament. We hope that going forward he will have more of a spirit of working together and understanding his role clearer,” she said.
 
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