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Government To Pay In Court Fight

By LAMECH JOHNSON Tribune Staff Reporter ljohnson@tribunemedia.net OUSTED Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl Grant-Bethell will not have to bear the likely $1 million legal costs of her law suit against the government. Yesterday the Crown dropped its appeal against a judge's order that the government should shoulder the cost of that legal fight. It means the reported $643,000 to be paid to attorneys who represented the government in the Supreme Court against Mrs Grant-Bethell, will increase. The figure does not include services rendered up to yesterday's proceedings in the Court of Appeal or Mrs Grant-Bethell's legal fees, her attorney Wayne Munroe told The Tribune. The order of costs by Senior Justice Jon Isaacs was affirmed in the Court of Appeal after Thomas Evans, QC, withdrew the Crown's appeal against that order. Justice Christopher Blackman, who presided over the proceedings along with Justices Stanley John and Abdulai Conteh, accepted the withdrawal and dismissed the appeal. He told Mr Evans and Brian Simms, QC, attorney for former Attorney General John Delaney, that costs for the legal battle would be against the government, reaffirming Senior Justice Isaacs' ruling made last year. After the hearing, Mr Evans would not comment as to why the Crown decided to withdraw the appeal. Mr Munroe, who represented Mrs Grant-Bethell since the beginning of the legal claim, told The Tribune what the lower court's ruling on legal costs meant. "The judgment from Justice Isaacs always stood. It was just a waiting disposition of the appeal," he said. "They've withdrawn the appeal. As you would've heard, there were costs associated with them withdrawing the appeal. And there will be a process by which we ascertain what the costs are that are payable before Justice Isaacs and here (the appellate court)." He could not comment as to when costs would be awarded as it will depend on whether or not an agreement is met between the respective parties in the future. Mrs Grant-Bethell seemed pleased by the outcome. She said: "I just hope that this process is soon over." The former Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions was locked in a bitter dispute with the Ingraham administration over her failure to be appointed director of the department. The DDPP of nine years was instead promoted to Deputy Law Reform and Revision Commissioner for a salary increase of $35 per month, a move she defined as a personal attack. Mrs Grant-Bethell filed an application for judicial review after the appointment was given to Jamaican lawyer Vinette Graham Allen. Senior Justice Isaacs refused to overturn Mrs Graham-Allen's appointment to the post of DPP; however, he noted in his judgment that the Judicial and Legal Services Commission "failed to treat her fairly and that the advice tendered to the Governor General was flawed because the JLSC considered material they should not have had in their contemplation when they purported to do so." Mr Munroe yesterday spoke highly of the former DDPP. He said that in his view the country needed a DPP who appeared to lead from the front and prosecuted murder and serious criminal cases. "In a time when we have a serious crime surge, for them to have the premiere prosecutor in the Bahamas in the person of Cheryl Grant-Bethell in Law Reform and Revision and not as DPP, it's an indictment first on Mr Ingraham's government who began the dumbness and it is an indictment on Mr Christie's government if he lets the dumbness continue. "The price that Mr Christie's government will pay, when blood is being shed all over the streets and they have a DPP who isn't prosecuting, then the price they must be made to pay will ultimately be a political one." Last month, Prime Minister Perry Christie said he planned to conduct an independent review of Mrs Grant-Bethell's application for the DPP post and would independently examine the position and arrive at a position as to "what is the right thing to do in all of the circumstances".

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