British Virgin Islands

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

Public 'cannot engage' with Commission through IRU- CoI

Public 'cannot engage' with Commission through IRU- CoI

The Commission of Inquiry into governance in the Virgin Islands is now claiming that recent publicity and information about the Inquiry Response Unit (IRU) set up by Cabinet to facilitate information sharing with the COI is having a “misleading effect”.

While the Commission in a statement today, March 4, 2021, did not give any examples of misleading information, it said there is now confusion about the IRU’s role and function.

Role of IRU


According to a press release from Government Information Service (GIS) on February 22, 2021, the IRU was established to ensure full cooperation with the Commission of 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 had informed.

The Unit, 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.

IRU not part of CoI


The Commission today clarified that the IRU is not part of the independent Commission of Inquiry.

“It is a unit set up by the BVIG to work in conjunction with the Attorney General’s Chambers with a modest but helpful goal of assisting with the mechanics of producing information requested by the Commission of Government officials.”

The statement also indicated that the Commissioner has written to the Attorney General to register his concerns about this publicity, and “asking for it to be corrected.”

“While the Commissioner welcomes the establishment of the IRU to help implement the BVIG’s expressed policy that all ministries, departments, statutory bodies and Government-owned entities provide appropriate and timely cooperation with the Inquiry, he wants to reassure members of the public, and public officers, that the IRU is wholly separate from the Commission. The Commission is, and will remain, entirely independent of the BVIG.”

The Commission of Inquiry was announced on January 18, 2021 by controversial ex-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.


Public cannot engage with Commission through IRU


The Commission reiterated that members of the public "cannot engage" with the Commission through the IRU and that if they wish to engage with the Commission, they should contact it directly.

“The Commission renews its open invitation to anyone who believes they have information that may assist the Inquiry, who has not yet submitted it to the Commission, to submit that information as soon as possible via the secure website portal (www.bvi.public-inquiry.uk). “

The Commission of Inquiry was announced on January 18, 2021 by controversial ex-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.

Sir Gary R. Hickinbottom is the sole Commissioner.

The Inquiry Response Unit (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.

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