Key figures: Current DPP Rory Field, Governor George Fergusson and Deputy DPP Cindy Clarke.*Photo montage by Gary Foster Skelton
Key figures: Current DPP Rory Field, Governor George Fergusson and Deputy DPP Cindy Clarke.*Photo montage by Gary Foster Skelton

Concern is mounting after a Bermudian candidate tipped by some to be the next Director of Public Prosecutions was apparently passed over for promotion.

The Bermuda Sun understands that an independent panel recommended that Bermudian Cindy Clarke, currently the deputy director, be chosen to take the reins from incumbent Rory Field, a British expatriate.

Premier Craig Cannonier, Attorney General Mark Pettingill and the Cabinet also reportedly supported the appointment of a “qualified Bermudian”. Ms Clarke would be the first Bermudian female to take up the post.

But it appears Governor George Fergusson, who has the final say in the matter, has decided otherwise — for reasons we have been unable to determine.

Disquiet

We understand Ms Clarke has been told she will not be the next DPP and that Mr Field will continue in the post. It is unclear whether he will continue for the full three-year term or a portion thereof, but sources say a shorter term is most likely.

Events sparked disquiet in the legal community, members of which convened a special meeting at the end of last week after court proceedings were abruptly brought to a close. Ms Clarke left Magistrates’ Court after another lawyer alerted her to an “emergency”. 

She had apparently been summoned to see the Governor, and Prosecutor Susan Mulligan was left to finish Plea Court for her.

It appears that a letter has played a key role in the controversy. It was sent in support of Ms Clarke from colleagues in the DPP to the Attorney General and then reportedly passed to the Governor, on request. 

Ms Clarke had been short-listed and interviewed for the job and a panel had apparently recommended she be named a designate, subject to further training. 

But it appears that the Governor took a different view.

Word somehow got out and prosecutors collectively drafted the letter of support.

Several sources have told us — though there is no official confirmation — that the apparent ‘leak’ of information about the Governor’s position was a source of great disquiet at Government House. 

Yesterday, authorities remained tight-lipped about the matter.

A Government House spokesman told the Bermuda Sun: “The Governor is away at the Joint Ministerial Council in London. 

“He will announce the position on the DPP appointment after he gets back.”

Mr Pettingill would not comment on the matter.

But a senior Government source told us: “The Government can not allow the legitimate aspirations of Bermudians to be frustrated.

“I understand the Premier, the Attorney General and the Cabinet firmly supported the appointment of a qualified Bermudian to the post of DPP and that the Governor has been made aware of this position.”

Mr Field would not comment on the situation and efforts to contact Ms Clarke were unsuccessful.

Mr Field formally took over the role of DPP in Bermuda on September 5, 2007.

He was then reappointed in 2010, at which time a Government spokesperson said that there was “every intention” to appoint a Bermudian to the post of DPP in 2013.

The statement added: “Part of the role of an expatriate officer in a senior position such as [DPP] is to plan for his or her own succession.

“In his second period Mr Field will apply special emphasis to encouraging and mentoring Bermudians who are potential successors, and will brief the Governor regularly on progress.” 

Last night, Shadow Attorney General Kim Wilson told the Bermuda Sun: “It is the process that is concerning as well as disappointing here.

“Notwithstanding the Governor’s constitutional power to have the final say over the appointment of the DPP, it is concerning,” she said, that the Governor had apparently not consulted with the Premier and the leader of the Opposition “who collectively represent the 36 elected members”.

“If any Bermudian is ready and qualified to take on a role such as this they should be given that opportunity.”

Ms Clarke is a graduate of Warwick Academy and Bermuda College.

She received her first degree in English and political science from Trent University in Ontario, Canada and studied law at the University of Kent.

She was called to the bar in England in 1999 and to the Bermuda bar a year later.

On Monday, Ms Clarke was back in Magistrates’ Court, prosecuting a matter in front of Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner, when she appeared to make a telling remark.

During the hearing, Mr Warner said: “Ms Clarke has magic.” Ms Clarke replied: “I don’t have magic any more. My magic wand is broken.”