Director of the Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji has appointed Queen's Counsel Khawar Qureshi to lead corruption cases against judicial and government officials.
In a notice on Tuesday, Mr Haji said he picked the London-based professor through single-sourcing after failing to find a suitable candidate through advertisement.
The DPP noted that the appointment was in line with the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, Article 157 (9) of the Constitution and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Act.
“Taking into account the transnational nature of the offences, the complexity and the special skills required to maintain the integrity of the process, the DPP has deemed it prudent, and has decided to appoint Khawar Qureshi, QC, and his assistants to be consultant and lead prosecution counsel on behalf of the ODPP,” stated the notice on the website of the ODPP.
“The DPP advertised for private legal counsel but due to the unique nature of requirements and the complexity of cases, it was not possible to find suitable candidates."
Mr Haji further explained that there are several cases of great public importance, as they involve State and public officers, so a private prosecutor will inject confidence.
He noted that the person assisting Kenya in dealing with graft must look, and be seen to be looking, at the law independently - without any external interference whatsoever.
Such a person, he said, must deftly manage relations within the three arms of government and the different justice agencies.
Among the senior officials facing graft charges are Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, several principal secretaries and former and current governors.
“In order to ensure transparency and independence in dealing with these cases, to build jurisprudence, to allow pragmatic interpretation of the Constitution and to avoid conflict between the ODPP and the Judiciary, we deem it prudent to engage private foreign counsel to deal with these matters,” Mr Haji said.
He added that it is the practice among commonwealth nations that when senior members of the bench and/or government are on trial, members are invited to handle the proceedings.
“This rationale is further fortified by the fact that the stakes in such cases are very high and therefore, it is necessary that the proceedings are insulated from the public perception of political interferences or perceptions of such interventions,” he said.
Prof Khawar has taught commercial law at Cambridge University and public international law at King's College London.
He was appointed a visiting professor in commercial law at the University of London in 2006 and a deputy High Court judge in 2013.
The professor has published several books and contributed to many journals, his areas of expertise including commercial litigation, public international law, arbitration, administrative and public law and human rights.
According to the DPP, Prof Khawar was an "A" Panel UK Government Treasury Counsel from 1999 to 2006 and is the chairman of TheCityUK Legal Services Group.
The group is designated by the UK ministry of justice as the lead organisation to promote UK legal services internationally.