Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne Q.C., has announced that her Ministry is preparing a Cabinet submission to establish a legal framework for the Office of Custos Rotulorum.
She was speaking at an appreciation luncheon at King’s House on Monday (December 7) to honour outgoing Custodes of Kingston and Trelawny, respectively, Rev. Canon Weeville Gordon and the Hon. Roylan Barrett, and retired Custos of St. James, the Hon. Clarence Nelson.
Senator Lightbourne explained that this was in keeping with a commitment made by Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, earlier this year at the swearing in of the Custos of Hanover.
The Justice Minister pointed out that once Cabinet approves the policy, in principle, a working group will be established to make recommendations on the type of legal framework that should be put in place to give the Office of Custos, the statutory footing and legislative authority it needs.
“The working group will include representation from the Custodes and the Office of His Excellency, the Governor-General, and staff, to name just two of the stakeholders to be included in the deliberations,” the Attorney General said.
This will lead up to the stage where the Cabinet will be asked to sign off on the recommendations, which are made in respect of the appropriate form and substance of the legal framework, Senator Lightbourne said.
“This move is in recognition of the tremendous role that you now play, and must continue to play, in the national life of Jamaica. And, more importantly, of the enduring relevance of your group to the knitting back of the torn social fabric of our society,” Senator Lightbourne said.
After being presented with a citation by Governor-General, His Excellency, the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, Mr. Barrett welcomed Senator Lightbourne’s announcement.
He highlighted the importance of the Office of Custos Rotulorum, noting that it was really not fully recognized by the laws of Jamaica, and there was a need for legislation to recognize the position and the holders of that position.
The three Custodes have served their respective parishes for a total of 49 years. Canon Gordon, who is the immediate past Priest of St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, Allman Town, Kingston, was installed as Custos of Kingston in 1991, and was the first clergyman elevated to that office. During his tenure, he acted as Governor-General on 72 occasions, between 1994 and 2009, and holds the distinction of serving as Deputy Governor-General to three Heads of State – the Most Hon. Sir Howard Cooke; Professor Sir Kenneth Hall; and Sir Patrick Allen.
In recognition of his contribution to the clergy and the public service, Canon Gordon was conferred with the Order of Distinction (Commander Class) in 1995, and the Order of Jamaica in 2007.
Mr. Barrett, an attorney by profession, was sworn in as Custos of Trelawny in 1991, and subsequently conferred with the C.D. in 2003. Mr. Nelson, a farmer and businessman, was installed as Custos of St. James in 1996, and held that position until July this year, when he retired. He has since been succeeded by the Hon. Patrick Corrodus.