Questions raised over suitability of investigator in Joanne Walsh probe

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Walsh

POINTE EXPRESS

Issues surrounding the investigation into the Acting Director of Public Prosecution have arisen even before the commencement of the probe. The Saint Lucia based Judicial and Legal Services Commission has appointed Deputy Registrar of the High Court, Kayode O’Marde to investigate misconduct claims made by transgender woman, Washington Bramble, against Joanne Walsh.

Bramble has accused Walsh of abusing the powers of her office to discriminate against, victimise and harass her for years.

Most recently, Bramble claimed Walsh was behind her March, 2022 detention by police, over statements she made on social media which police alleged contravened the Electronic Crimes Act.

No charges have been filed against Bramble. The JLSC has moved to investigate the complaints made by Bramble, but potential anomalies have arisen, with O’Marde at the centre of them all.

According to reports, despite O’Marde’s position, he cannot investigate Joanne Walsh based on her seniority. Before her elevation to the position of Chief Magistrate, Walsh worked as Crown Counsel within the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to which O’Marde was also assigned, but in a lower position.

The potential conflict of interest also extends to the complainant. Bramble and O’Marde are familiar with each other having attended Antigua Grammar School where they both graduated at the same time.

They moved on to the A-Levels Department of Antigua State College where they were classmates.

The belief is that the prevailing circumstances make the Deputy Registrar of the High Court unsuitable to execute the duty which he has been appointed to perform.

It is unclear whether the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC) had knowledge of O’Marde’s association with both Walsh and Bramble before appointing him to probe the complaints. A formal letter is expected to be dispatched to Castries today, outlining the irregularities that exist in the JLSC’s decision to name Deputy Registrar O’Marde as sole investigator.

A legal source told Pointe Xpress it will be difficult to find someone in Antigua and Barbuda to investigate the matter who won’t face objection; therefore, it is likely that the JLSC may have to revisit its decision and look outside of the country for assistance.

Another revelation was that in addition to the investigation ordered by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission from the complaint made by Washington Bramble, a civil suit was also filed by the complainant for compensation with respect to the same issues, leaving many to question whether the lawsuit and investigation can proceed simultaneously.

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