Making appearances before the sole Commissioner, Sir Gary R. Hickinbottom, were Attorney General Dawn J. Smith and Cabinet Secretary Ms Sandra I. Ward.
According to a statement from the Commission’s Press Secretary Steven Chandler, Hickinbottom heard oral submissions from Ms Smith on her application to participate in the COI in her own right and on behalf of a number of identified government bodies.
According to Chandler, the Commissioner subsequently received evidence from the Cabinet Secretary, Ms Ward.
“The Commissioner has issued orders following the hearing, which will in any event be published on the COI website shortly,” Mr Chandler wrote.
According to the statement, a number of governmental bodies have provided documents to the COI and, in respect of these documents, the Attorney General has confirmed that the Government reserves its position as regards its rights of privilege and confidentiality
It said these issues affect how such documents can be used and disclosed by the COI.
“The Commissioner has decided that his initial hearings need to be in private to allow for the secure provision of information and documents over which such rights are or may be maintained. The provision of such information and documents is necessary to the continued work of the COI.”
However, according to the statement, the Commissioner’s intention is that, wherever possible, the work of the COI should be conducted in public so as to keep the VI public aware of its progress.
In respect of yesterday’s hearing, Hickinbottom has invited the Attorney General to make submissions as to why he should not publish the full transcript.
“Once he has received those submissions, the Commissioner will decide whether the transcript can be published, with necessary redactions if appropriate.”
The Commission claimed that it is Hickinbottom’s intention that these transcripts be made available on the COI website as, according to him, public access to the transcripts will ensure transparency and avoid the misreporting of hearings.
“In respect of hearings in which there are no issues such as privilege and confidentiality, it is the Commissioners’ intention that they be live-streamed.”
Premier and Minister of Finance Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1), from the inception of the CoI, has been advocating for the hearings to be livestreamed for transparency.