British Virgin Islands

Wednesday, Dec 08, 2021

Penn denounces Premier’s proposed committee for Willock

Penn denounces Premier’s proposed committee for Willock

Opposition Leader Marlon Penn has lambasted Premier Andrew Fahie’s efforts at putting forward a resolution that seeks to establish a committee to ultimately decide who should pay House Speaker Julian Willock’s legal costs for an aborted court injunction.

The injunction was filed against three Commission of Inquiry (COI) lawyers because Willock felt they were practising law illegally in the BVI. But the matter was aborted after he failed to gain the consent of Attorney General (AG), Dawn Smith. The court, therefore, ordered Willock to pay legal fees for all parties he brought before the court.

Making his position clear from the outset, Penn said: “I do not support the Honourable House of Assembly making a decision that usurps and circumvents courts — which is the judiciary — to make a payment for the Honourable Speaker, Julian Willock.”

“I totally denounce the position that we brought the … resolution to go to a committee of the House to make this decision,” Penn said while noting the Speaker was already afforded due process before the courts and a clear ruling was made.

“I am not going to be on any select committee to further undermine the sanctity of the judicial system,” he added.

The Opposition Leader said Willock was given two opportunities before the court to file affidavits to prove that he had the support of the HOA members or the Attorney General and that the matter was moved in the public interest.

Willock failed to prove either.

Willock did not consult HOA

The Speaker, he charged, filed the injunction without the approval of the House of Assembly even though approval was required beforehand.

Penn said the Speaker even went a step further and filed a lawsuit against the AG after she declined to give permission for the case to move forward. This too was without the consent of the members of the House, Penn argued.

Penn also attacked the very basis on which the injunction was moved before the court. He highlighted that the contract with Silk Legal — attorneys representing non-ministerial members of the HOA — only offered to assist the Attorney General, if needed, with any court matter that arose from the COI’s proceedings.


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