Beautiful Virgin Islands

Monday, Aug 15, 2022

Premier not saying if gov’t will help Willock with fees till he reads HOA report

Premier not saying if gov’t will help Willock with fees till he reads HOA report

Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley has declined to indicate whether his government will assist with former House Speaker Julian Willock‘s nearly $98,000 in legal fees that arose from an aborted court injunction against three Commission of Inquiry (COI) lawyers.

The Premier has instead promised to study a Special Parliamentary Committee report on the matter before making a decision.

Committee’s findings


The committee, established by former Premier Andrew Fahie to determine whether Willock should shoulder those costs, issued a report in the HOA last Thursday announcing that Willock usurped the Attorney General’s role and was therefore responsible for the fees.

Willock’s attorneys, Silk Legal, told the committee they received verbal instructions from the former Premier to pursue the legal matter with Willock taking the helm.

However, when asked last Friday whether his government will assist Willock with those fees given the new development that the Speaker was following Fahie’s instructions, Premier Wheatley said he would have to take a look at the document laid in the HOA by the committee.

“Once I sit down and read the document, I will be able to provide an answer to you,” Premier Wheatley told the media. “But I would like to see what the report says and read it in depth before I answer that particular question.“

Meanwhile, Willock had claimed after he was made to resign from his post as Speaker, that he was being made a ‘sacrificial lamb’. He made that statement in the context of negotiations between the government and the United Kingdom over the COI report’s recommendations.

Dr Wheatley was also asked at the time whether he felt this was the case given the new revelations, but he declined to respond on that issue as well.

Background


The High Court had deemed Willock personally liable for legal fees incurred last year after an aborted injunction he filed against the aforementioned COI lawyers.

The injunction, which never received the express permission of the House of Assembly (HOA) or the Attorney General, sought to prevent the three attorneys from continuing their work with the COI unless and until they were called to the BVI Bar.

Willock felt the attorneys were illegally practising law in the BVI since they were not called to the bar at the time, as required by law. The former Premier initially tried to outrightly exempt the Speaker from paying those legal costs but changed course after significant public blowback.

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