In fact, the outgoing Governor, who has allegedly continually tried to bully and frustrate the duly democratically elected Government of the Virgin Islands, has suggested to the appointed CoI Judge from the United Kingdom to consider holding meetings in private.
According to the Instrument of Appointment of the Right Honourable Sir Gary Hickinbottom as the Judge of the Commission of Inquiry, gazette on January 20, 2021, Governor Jaspert has told the Judge he may allow for information to be given to the Inquiry in confidence.
“AND I FURTHER DIRECT THAT the meetings of the Commission may be held in private whenever you the said RIGHT HONOURABLE SIR GARY HICKINBOTTOM considers it appropriate to do so and THAT, to the extent permitted by law, and so far as it is consistent with the public welfare in achieving the objectives of the Inquiry, you may allow for information to be given to the Inquiry in confidence,” a section of the Instrument of Appointment stated.
Section 9 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1880 provides for the Commissioner to make rules for the conduct and management of the Inquiry and many are now wondering if the Governor is already trying to interfere in the work of the Commission by making certain suggestions to the Judge.
Premier Fahie had said it is his considered view and that of the VI Government that the Commission of Inquiry called by the Governor, even as he exits the VI in a matter of days, should be open to the public and broadcast live, including on the internet, given the international interest that exists in this matter.
In calling for a full media broadcast, Hon Fahie said it is common practice in many jurisdictions for hearings in Commissions of Inquiry to be broadcast live as it aids the public in having accurate information and in seeing that the Inquiry is conducted in a transparent manner with no secrets or hidden agendas.
He said Section 2 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1880 as amended, already provides that unless there is any contrary direction, inquiries should be public.
“Section 9 of the Act provides for the Commissioner to make rules for the conduct and management of the Inquiry. So, if there is any doubt about live broadcasts, Section 9 should clear this up,” the Premier underscored.
Hon Fahie argued that the VI is heavily dependent on international business and that the success of various industries rides on the territory’s repetition; a reputation that was severed when the Governor made allegations of corruption existing in the territory and in the government's use of public funds.
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