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Saturday, Aug 13, 2022

Redaction requests force delay in COI governance hearing

Redaction requests force delay in COI governance hearing

A request to have redactions added to documents previously submitted to the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (COI) has contributed to the delay of a planned hearing on issues of governance, Commissioner Sir Gary Hickinbottom said.

Members of the House of Assembly (HOA) were previously asked to submit position papers on governance to the COI, outlining where they stand on the issue.

However, according to a statement delivered by the Commissioner last Friday morning, a number of HOA members who have lodged position statements have since returned with requests to redact passages from those documents.

Sir Gary said: “In the case of the elected ministers’ position statement and its appendices, they clearly contain personal data, and the Attorney General considers, possibly, contain documents over which others may have rights of confidentiality.”

The Commissioner related that while ministers have not identified the passages that are or may be confidential, the COI team is having to make appropriate inquiries of their own to determine these.

He expressed hope that the redaction issues could be dealt with within a day and reminded that he intended to publish all of the position statements as soon as those issues have been dealt with.

“That delay inevitably means that I have had to review how and when the investigation into governance will be conducted,” Sir Gary said.

Serious allegations

According to he Commissioner, the second main issue that forced the delay was that the allegations previously made by the ministers were given without any supporting evidence and also without giving disclosing documents relevant to the issues they have raised.

Sir Gary said the ministers’ position statement makes serious allegations that the Governor and the UK Government have acted unconstitutionally, in breach of international law; and at least in the case of the latter, contrary to its own policies.

Governor and Premier stood down from appearances

Sir Gary proposed to direct that the participants — and any others against whom criticisms are made in the position statements — have an opportunity to respond to the position statements of others, and, any oral evidence heard this week.

He further stated that most of the witnesses due to be called this week can go ahead.

“But in the absence of the disclosure and clarification, to which I have referred, it would be premature, in my view, to hear from the Premier or from the Governor who may wish to respond to the ministers’ position statement once the disclosure and clarification are given,” Sir Gary stated.

He then proposed to stand down both the Premier and the Governor from appearing this week and said they will be rescheduled to future hearings when the issues of governance are concluded.


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