Police Powers



The Governor was today, 6th June 2007, asked to relinquish his powers to the Government. The Government is headed by Ewart Brown who  was recently named as having been a suspect in the BHC scandal. The scandal is believed to have cost the taxpayer more than $8 million through backhanders, questionable accounting practices, fraudulent deals and inflated invoices with building contractors.

Apparently, with regard to the Governor's police powers, the "ridiculous arrangement has outlived its usefulness." What an amazing coincidence - the arrangement appears to have outlived its usefulness at about the same time the Premier is linked to a police investigation, allegations of impropriety!

And rather ironically, on the very day the Government was asking the Governor to relinquish his police powers, the Governor  was reported as addressing the first international anti-terrorist financing and counter money laundering meeting ever to be held in Bermuda, advising in respect of the financial investigation units or agencies established under the Egmont umbrella:

  • These units must also be independent of political control and have "ring-fenced" budgets in order to ensure "there can be no interference in their role, whether directly or through budgetary pressure," he said.

The Bermuda Sun's report can be read by clicking here. The Bermuda Sun reported the request for the Governor to hand over police powers as:

Government wants control of the police
Minister asks Governor to relinquish authority

whilst the Royal gazette advised as follows:


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 responsibilities'.

"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.

"Our constitution 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 Bermuda."

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.

The documents 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 showed.

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.

Since the 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 fraud.




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