by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – The Former Director of Public Prosecutions, Valston Graham, has addressed reports about his departure from his position.
In speaking with WINN, Graham said he felt the need to clear the air as he saw comments suggesting that he was ousted and felt the need to let the general public know that he left of his own volition.
“I’ve seen a lot of comments and people saying that I have been ousted. I have not been ousted. My contract has come to an end, and that’s the simple matter as it is. So I thought it important, persons who are close to me have said to me “I think you should really clear the air”. I don’t think that perception is something that was done by the Attorney General. He simply did his job, to notify the public of a change. That comes under his remit, and I take no issue with that whatsoever.”
The notice of the end of the former DPP’s tenure was shared in a document that was widely shared on social media, stating that his contract was up on September 19 and the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs will be seeking a replacement for Graham locally and regionally.
Graham said that he shared his intention not to renew his contract with the previous and current Attorneys General.
“Now, my departure from office is purely a matter of my decision making… I never sought for my contract to be renewed, and I need that to be made blatantly and expressly clear. At no point in time did I seek to have my contract renewed. It was an open secret that I [had] no intention of renewing my contract. My contract dictated how renewal is sought to be done; it provided for me to give an indication of renewal at least three months prior to the end of the contract, [which] would have been in June of this year. In June of this year, I did no such thing… and that was communicated to the previous Attorney General and the current Attorney General when I met with him when he first came in office.”
The former DPP said he leaves the position knowing that he has made effective changes during his time as DPP.
“When I came here, public confidence in the DPP’s office was microscopic, plainly, bluntly put. Success and convictions [were] a rarity, it was like gold dust… there [were] hardly any convictions for trials before the High Court. When you compare that today, it’s night and day. When persons commit criminal offences and go before the court now, there is a sense of ease knowing that they are going to be faced with competent prosecutors and a DPP Office that is very robust in prosecution and is very determined to make sure that person who belong behind bars stay behind bars.”
The notice further stated that the Ministry is seeking to appoint Crown Counsel Greatess Gordon as Acting Director of Public Prosecutions and Crown Counsel Teshaun Vasquez as Acting Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions.
The former DPP shared his support of the decision to have Gordon and Vasquez take up those roles as, within his tenure, he made it a goal to mentor an individual who could take up the position.
“One of my ambition, when I came here, was to ensure that when I leave that there were suitable persons who can take forward the mantle of leading the office. I want St. Kitts to have its own DPP. I’ve been able to mould ad to mentor not one but two persons who are in that region to begin to lead the office. Greatess has acted for me on more than one occasion when I travel for duties or on leave, so I am quite aware of what the staff is doing. I want to wish her, especially, early success in her reign as Acting DPP, and I also want to wish Vasquez early success in his likely promotion to be [Acting] Assistant DPP.”
As with a change of any administration, there is the expectation that shifts will be made. However, the recent shifts and new appointments that the latest iteration of the Government has made have been met with comments of victimisation and favouritism from some in the general public.
While Graham said he was not an authority to speak on those matters, nor does he have any insight into why specific changes and appointments were made, he has seen no cause for the suggestions of victimisation.
“I have a firm belief that every government deserves to have persons in critical positions that they can rely on, that they have confidence in… I am not going to speak to those person who have been replaced or rotated or whatever the case might be because quite frankly I am not privy to what might have informed those decisions. But it is St. Kitts, and everything in St. Kitts tends to take a political stance or some political connotation.”
The Vincentian-born Graham will return to the British Virgin Islands (BVI), where he has a private practice and shared that he is excited to return to the BVI to see how far he can take his career.