Governor asked to hand over police powers By Ruth O'Kelly-Lynch
The Governor was today
asked to relinquish his constitutional powers over the Police and
delegate them to Government.
Speaking in the Senate
this morning, Senator David Burch, Minister of Public Safety, said he
had written to the Governor, Sir John Vereker, asking him to delegate
his responsibilities over the Bermuda Police Service. Sen. Burch told
the Senate that under Section 62 of the Constitution Order 1968 the
Governor "is solely responsible for the Bermuda Police Service". He said
that Section sets out "what it refers to as the Governor's 'special
"What are those
special responsibilities, Mr. President? They are: external affairs;
defence, including the armed forces; internal security and the Police,"
said Sen. Burch. He added that "this section of the Constitution is
alive and well and is regularly enforced".
The Senator added:
"For some reason Ministers who have occupied this area of responsibility
have deemed it necessary to keep this provision from the people of
Bermuda and to engage in the smoke and mirrors of talking tough on crime
when in effect they have had no responsibility for it, period." He
added: "This ridiculous arrangement has outlived its usefulness."
Sen. Burch told the
Senate he was unable to do things such as get more officers patrolling
the streets and ensure crimes were investigated promptly. "I have a
solution to this untenable situation - Section 62 of the Constitution
also allows for the Governor to delegate, on certain conditions, his
responsibility for any of those things I listed earlier, to the Premier
or any other Minister," he said.
"I can advise the
Senate today that I have written to the Governor inviting him to
delegate his authority and responsibility for the Police to the Minister
with responsibility for Public Safety. "I am not content to perpetuate
this bizarre relationship which in effect renders the Minister
powerless. Bermuda has real problems and those problems are not
insurmountable. However, they require a person with a stake in the
process to manage that process. "In my view that person cannot be an
appointed Governor from England here for a defined period of time with
limited local knowledge.
contemplates this delegation of responsibilities wand it is now time for
the Governor to do the right thing in the interests of what is best for
Today's statement is
an escalation in a row between the Government and the Governor since the
publication in the Mid-Ocean News of allegations of corruption within
the Bermuda Housing Corporation. Following that story, Premier Dr. Ewart
Brown threatened to suspend all dealings with Sir John if he failed to
fully investigate who leaked confidential documents to the Mid Ocean
News and ZBM television station, which was raided by Police on Monday.
reportedly revealed that Dr. Brown, former Premier Jennifer Smith and
former Ministers Nelson Bascome, Renee Webb and Arthur Hodgson were all
investigated by fraud squad officers looking into the BHC allegations.
Construction boss Zane DeSilva was another prominent person investigated
as part of the probe into corruption at BHC, the leaked files reportedly
When the investigation
finished in 2004, then acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Kulandra
Ratneser, said many of those investigated could only be accused of
bad ethics. Mr. Ratneser also said some of the people investigated
escaped prosecution due to Bermuda's antiquated corruption laws.
investigation into the BHC corruption - which is believed to have cost
the taxpayer $8m - one person has been jailed. Terence Smith, a junior
BHC officer, was found guilty and jailed last year on 41 counts of