Leader of the Opposition Philip ‘Brave’ Davis. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party Leader Philip “Brave” Davis said it is “alarming” high profile attorneys severed ties with the Attorney General’s Office over the shanty town issue, as he suggested the move could have been prompted by a “rudderless” and “chaotic” state of affairs at the office.
On Monday, Attorney General Carl Bethel issued a statement, which noted Harvey Tynes, QC, and Robert Adams from Graham Thompson in Grand Bahama are no longer representing the government in its case against those seeking to block the government’s shanty town eradication project.
The split was the result of a difference in opinion on which strategy to take in a rebuttal.
Mr Bethel said with the two attorneys gone from the government’s legal team, the Office of the Attorney General will now conduct the matter on behalf of respondents “with the government’s absolute determination to humanely address the vexing and long-standing problem.”
However, Mr Davis yesterday insisted to have hired the “first class” lawyers in the first place was to question the capabilities of the legal minds in the Office of the Attorney General.
“That is alarming, because the decision to farm out the work to independent counsel suggested to me that the attorney general had arrived at a view that his office and those in his office were not sufficiently competent to deal with the work,” Mr Davis said during his monthly press conference at the PLP’s headquarters on Farrington Road.
“Having engaged private counsel and now having private counsel disengage themselves just tells us the state of the Attorney General’s Office - rudderless chaotic and a ball of confusion.”
This is also a waste of public funds, Mr Davis said.
“If they engaged counsel and then counsel is disengaging themselves, that is a waste of funds and you see it appears the Attorney General would have gotten advice from within his chambers obviously have gotten advice from independent counsel.
“Now when a client does not agree to the advice from his counsel then that client would have some challenges I would think.”
As for views on how the matter should proceed, Mr Davis said he has none because he is not involved in the case, but he said the matter appears to have come down to politics.
“Lawyers Robert Adams and Harvey Tynes would not be too concerned about the political aspect of it. They would be more concerned about the issues of law and the Attorney General may be more concerned about the political consequences of the matter.
“I suspect the issues might be where they wanted to tell counsel how to conduct their case instead of allowing counsel to tell (them) how the case ought to be conducted.”
The attorneys severed ties as shanty town residents have asked the government to rescind revised notices asking them to demolish structures or they will petition the court to have top officials cited for contempt.
The Supreme Court previously ordered the government and utility providers to halt any planned evictions, service disconnections or demolitions in shanty towns pending a judicial review of the Minnis administration’s policy to eradicate those communities, filed on behalf of 177 shanty town residents from both New Providence and Abaco.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes, Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister, and Mr Bethel are named as respondents in the ex-parte application.
Attorney Fred Smith told The Tribune on Monday his clients have received revised notices from the Ministry of Public Works concerning the same land as previous notices, which are under dispute.
He explained the revised notices are individually addressed, and purport to have followed an inspection unlike previous notices, adding that the lack of particulars was one of several objections formed by his clients in their application.
A notice, obtained by The Tribune, was issued by Ministry of Public Works Building Control Officer Craig Delancy to Freddie Petifree of Carmichael Road, on August 29.