British Virgin Islands

Friday, Feb 26, 2021

Inquiry Response Unit established to cooperate with Commission of Inquiry

Inquiry Response Unit established to cooperate with Commission of Inquiry

Putting into action its word that it would cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry into governance, the Government of the Virgin Islands has set up an Inquiry Response Unit (IRU) to facilitate information sharing in a systematic and efficient way.

The IRU, which was established by the Cabinet of the Virgin Islands on February 5, 2021, and is led by the Right Honourable Sir Charles Geoffrey Cox QC and administered by Withers BVI, will report to the Attorney General, Honourable Dawn J. Smith.

The Commission of Inquiry was announced on January 18, 2021, by controversial former Governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert to look into whether corruption, abuse of office or other serious dishonesty may have taken place amongst public, elected and statutory officials in recent years in the [British] Virgin Islands.

Secretary to the Commission Mr Steven Chandler, in a press statement on February 15, 2021, said the Commissioner, Gary R. Hickinbottom (in photo), has been informed and welcomes that it is a policy of the Government of the Virgin Islands that all ministries, departments, statutory bodies and Government-owned entities provide appropriate and timely cooperation with the Inquiry.


Role of IRU


According to a press release from Government Information Service (GIS) today, February 22, 2021, the IRU was established to ensure full cooperation with the Inquiry and facilitation of the Inquiry process, while upholding the legal duties and legitimate interests of the Government.

“The IRU functions as an independent unit to support the Attorney General's Chambers in ensuring that information is provided to the Inquiry in a systematic, efficient and well-organised way, which is both auditable and accountable.

The IRU will also assist Ministers and public officers to understand their duties in relation to the Inquiry,” the press release informed.

The Commission of Inquiry was announced on January 18, 2021, by controversial former Governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert to look into whether corruption, abuse of office or other serious dishonesty may have taken place amongst public, elected and statutory officials in recent years in the [British] Virgin Islands.


Mission Statement


The IRU's Mission Statement is as follows:

"To function as an independent unit acting in the public interest to support the work of the Attorney General and the Virgin Islands Government to achieve the fullest possible cooperation with the Commission of Inquiry, advising on and coordinating the disclosure of documents and information to the Commission, while ensuring the legal duties and legitimate interests of the Virgin Islands Government are upheld."

The Inquiry Response Unit will report to the Attorney General, Honourable Dawn J. Smith.


Commission welcomes cooperation of VI Gov’t


Meanwhile, Secretary to the Commission Mr Steven Chandler, in a press statement on February 15, 2021, said the Commissioner, Gary R. Hickinbottom, has been informed and welcomes that it is a policy of the Government of the Virgin Islands that all ministries, departments, statutory bodies and Government-owned entities provide appropriate and timely cooperation with the Inquiry.

Mr Chandler further said the Commissioner wanted to reassure the population of the VI, and its public officers in particular, that whatever mechanisms government adopts to assist the Commission there is nothing to prevent those in public office who have concerns from coming forward directly to the Commission.

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