October 05, 2021
THE decision to send Corrections Commissioner Charles Murphy on administrative leave "is foul and inappropriate" and proves "something is amiss", according to Mr Murphy's lawyer Romona Farquharson Seymour, who yesterday urged Prime Minister Philip "Brave" Davis to intervene or publicly address the matter.
Mrs Farquharson Seymour defended Commissioner Murphy’s handling of Prescott Smith, the matter that sparked his removal, and highlighted National Security Minister Wayne Munroe’s role in a 2019 lawsuit that sought to quash Mr Murphy’s appointment as commissioner. She said that matter is evidence of Mr Munroe’s bias and questioned whether Mr Davis was aware of Mr Munroe’s role in the case.
“How do we view,” she said, “that the very thing you were petitioning and asking the court for, the removal of Mr Murphy, which you were asking for in your private capacity, now in your public capacity has come to fruition? Is that a coincidence, happenstance, is that what we are supposed to accept?”
Mr Munroe has said that sending the commissioner on administrative leave was driven by the prison’s handling of Prescott Smith, a prominent Andros Progressive Liberal Party supporter who Mr Munroe said was being kept in prison in a possible breach of Justice Loren Klein’s Supreme Court order. Mr Smith reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 in prison and was quarantined in a cell with three other people.
Mrs Farquharson Seymour, however, said there is more to the story than what has been publicly revealed.
She said Mr Smith’s lawyer, Keod Smith, went to the prison on September 24 “after the hours of release” and presented an officer with Justice Klein’s order.
“The officer scrutinised the same and questioned the validity of it because it was not a release certificate, it was a court order,” she said. “In order to be released from the prison there is a particular document called a release certificate that is prepared by the courts. It would then be sent down via Central Police Station or whichever means, and an officer would present it to the prison and then the process begins for the release of whomever is in custody.
“That was not the case on Friday when Mr Smith arrived. On Monday, again Mr Smith arrived at the prison, still with no release order and the prison began their inquiries and once they did I’m advised they would have eventually spoken with Mr Turner who is the criminal registrar and who would’ve explained that ‘listen, it doesn’t work that way, the attorney ought to have brought the order to us and then we would put out the proper release certificate, prepare it and have it sent to the prison.’ The officer was then asked, ‘please tell Mr Smith (to) make his way to my office, come so that we can properly deal with the matter.’ So regardless of whoever dropped the ball, whether it was Keod Smith, whether it was the courts, we say it was certainly not the commissioner or his officers. The Corrections Act is very clear, Section 28.2 speaks to the hours of release between 8am and 4pm. If a release happens to become an issue on a Saturday or Sunday or a public holiday, then the release would take effect the next working day. And so (the commissioner) maintains he did nothing wrong.”
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