Court rejects attempt to block AG’s Office representing Munroe in Murphy case

Retired commissioner of the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services Charles Murphy.

Retired commissioner of the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services Charles Murphy.


Tribune News Editor


A SUPREME Court judge rejected an attempt to prevent the Office of the Attorney General from representing National Security Minister Wayne Munroe in a lawsuit concerning the removal of former prison commissioner Charles Murphy.

Commissioner Murphy was sent on administrative leave in September 2021, purportedly so officials could investigate the case of Prescott Smith, who was imprisoned in a possible breach of a Supreme Court order.

Mr Munroe later said an inquiry into several matters involving the commissioner would occur, including his handling of a prisoner who contracted COVID-19. The outcome of the probes has not been revealed to the public.

Mr Munroe’s involvement in sidelining Commissioner Murphy was scrutinised because his law firm represented acting Commissioner Doan Cleare and Deputy Commissioner Bernadette Thompson-Murray when they sued the government under the Minnis administration for being forced on vacation leave.

The application from Mr Murphy’s lawyer, Romona Farquharson-Seymour, sought to bar the attorney general from representing and/or giving legal advice to Mr Munroe and Cheryl Darville, the acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security.

Mrs Farquharson-Seymour argued that the Office of the Attorney General represented Mr Murphy by extension in 2019 when Mr Cleare and Mrs Thompson-Murray sued the government for being placed on leave.

According to Justice Carla Card-Stubbs’ ruling, Mrs Farquharson-Seymour argued that: “The attorneys of the Office of the Attorney General are aware of confidential and privilege information that was given to them from the applicant by virtue of their then position of defending the appointment of the applicant by the Public Service Commission over that of Doan Cleare.

“The first respondent represented the applicants in the aforesaid matter and now the first respondent is the Minister of National Security.

“The first respondent is and will be aware of confidential and privilege communications between the applicant and the Attorney General as he is now the Minister of National Security. The third respondent will have received confidential information from the applicant and can now use such information to fight against him. Their presence/representation of the first and second respondent given the issues are similar.”

The Crown argued that the attorney general is the government’s principal legal advisor and the Crown’s representative in all legal proceedings when matters are brought against state officers. The Crown also noted that the applicants discontinued the 2019 matter and the Office of the Attorney General put forward no arguments. The claim of conflict of interest was denied.

Ultimately, the judge ruled that the case did not “rise to the category of cases requiring intervention by the court”.

“In the first instance, there is no evidence of an attorney-client relationship either past or present,” she wrote.

“Secondly, I am not convinced that there was a true fiduciary relationship.”

“Thirdly, even if the applicant were said to be the beneficiary of a fiduciary relationship with the OAG by virtue of that assistance, what is not before me is the nature of confidential information that the OAG or first respondent would have obtained from the applicant such that the OAG should now be estopped from representing the respondents in the suit that the applicant has brought against them.”


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