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TCI: DPP under investigation

3-28-2016-12-44-32-PM-1818597By John Toner From Turks and Caicos Weekly News

TCI’s top prosecutor is under investigation by the Integrity Commission.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has admitted that an investigation is ongoing but the man in charge, John Masters, has said it is due to his shake up of “unbelievable” bad practice at the department.

Masters, appointed in April last year, says that given his changes to “entrenched” unsatisfactory behaviours at the Office of the DPP it is “no surprise” this investigation by the Integrity Commission has surfaced.

He said: “I start by simply stating that whilst I know that there is an investigation taking place with the Integrity Commission I do not know any details.

“I have not been contacted by the Integrity Commission but I believe that members of the Office of the DPP have been spoken to.

“I add at this time it was with my full encouragement that they cooperate with the Integrity Commission whatever their investigation is about.

“I take this opportunity to say that it comes as no surprise that such a complaint has been made because I have made a lot of changes to unsatisfactory practices that have become entrenched in the Office of the DPP (ODPP).

“There has been a culture of internal bullying and self-interest by a few members of staff and I emphasise, only a few members of staff.

“The bulk of the staff, both administrative and lawyers, is professional. I am proud and feel privileged to be working with them.

“Some of the matters that I have been forced to address are frankly unbelievable for an institution that should attract the respect and confidence of the community.

“It has undoubtedly become apparent to those opposing change that it is going to happen unless I can somehow be undermined or made scared of reprisals unless I back down.

“But let me tell you, I do not react to threats.

“The bottom line is that I will not tolerate this type of conduct or environment and I will not react to bullying.

“No-one in the ODPP has a rite of passage, advancement will be on merit and tasks assigned on a needs and capabilities basis. I expect all staff to come into work on time and to work and most do.

“We all hear of the cases where if a person offends the wrong person that they get an unannounced visit from immigration who are compelled to investigate the legitimacy of their entitlement to be in the TCI.

“This sends a clear message from the complainant not to cross them: well this type of bullying won’t work with me.

“The offenders know that the writing is on the wall and I will not facilitate any diversionary tactic. This is one of the reasons that the DPP is extended constitutional independence.”

The complaints came to light after an investigation by The Sun newspaper and Masters thanks them for reaching out to him for comment in his statement.

The prosecutor, who has 27 years experience in both the Cayman Islands and Australia, said when he took on the role that he wanted to make TCI public prosecution “world class” and Masters says he remains dedicated to that aim despite these proceedings.

The director of the Integrity Commission, Eugene Otuonye QC, said: “Regrettably I am unable to comment on this matter at this time.”

For more on this story go to:

IMAGE: John Masters


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