Gov’t again defends extension of DPP’s tenure

THE Government on Wednesday was again forced to defend its move to extend the retirement age of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) via a constitutional amendment, a day after the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) filed a lawsuit objecting to the extension.

While the constitutional amendment increased the retirement age of both DPP Paula Llewellyn and Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis from 60 to 65, all focus has been placed at the feet of Llewellyn who would have retired in September at age 63, prior to the adjustment.

This is the second extension of the DPP’s appointment, after previously receiving a three-year extension in 2020 when she turned 60.

The Opposition has been adamant that Llewellyn should not get an extension. In the lawsuit filed in the Supreme Court, the claimants, Member of Parliament Phillip Paulwell and Senator Peter Bunting, are seeking a declaration that Llewellyn should not be allowed to remain in office beyond September when the 2020 extension ends.

On Wednesday morning, minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for information, Robert Morgan, insisted that the Government acted within the law, acted constitutionally, and “there is no question about the legal process the Government put forward”.

Morgan, who was was responding to a query from the media on the matter during a post-Cabinet press briefing on Wednesday, said he was echoing the sentiments of justice minister who addressed the issue during a radio programme earlier that morning.

“What is clear to the Government is that the Opposition is carrying out a personal vendetta against an individual. They have filed a claim in relation to one individual when the law was changed to affect two individuals. The public needs to ask themselves why target this person? They have not provided any evidence of impropriety, they have not provided any evidence of inappropriateness of behaviour,” he said.

He further contended that most individuals in the legal fraternity who have given an appraisal of the work of Llewellyn have spoken about the transformative approach that she has had to the office; the improvement in public education and communication; and the significant successes that the office has had in relation to, for example, the Klansman gang trial and several other major groundbreaking trials which have caused many criminals to now be behind bars.

“So we are interested in hearing what the court has to say, and we respect the court, but we do not believe based on the frivolous grounds on which this claim was laid, that it will be successful,” he said.

The Constitution (Amendment of Sections 96(1) and 121(1)) Bill, which facilitated the retirement age extension, was passed in Parliament last month.