The former Governor, Mr Jaspert, did not state who was going to fund the CoI despite many asking; however, it has been revealed on the website, bvi.public-inquiry.uk, set up for the purpose of the CoI.
Under the section ‘Frequently Asked Questions’, there is a question: ‘How much is this costing BVI?’
“This CoI is fully funded by the UK Government. It comes at no cost to BVI,” the website stated.
The Terms of Reference of the CoI requires the Commissioner to report his findings to the Governor within six months, which is by July 2021.
The Commissioner will be supported by a team, including the Secretary to the Inquiry, Mr Steven Chandler, who has already been appointed and in the VI, as well as the Solicitor and Counsel to the Commission, who are yet to be appointed.
It is unclear at this stage how much the CoI will cost British taxpayers, who are already reeling from a global pandemic that has been out of control in the UK.
Commissioner Gary R. Hickinbottom, left, will be supported by a team, including the Secretary to the Inquiry, Mr Steven Chandler, right, who has already been appointed, as well as the Solicitor and Counsel to the Commission, who are yet to be appointed.
It should be noted that the Section 18 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, as amended, allows the Governor to state what payments should be made to the Commissioner, Secretary or any other person employed in or about any such commission and that "such sums, so directed to be paid, shall be paid by the Financial Secretary out of the ordinary cash balance in the Treasury of the Territory."
VI taxpayers will at least be relieved in knowing they will not be unnecessarily burdened by a highly questionable Commission of Inquiry, which has already smeared the territory's image on the international scene.
According to the CoI website, as set out in the Terms of Reference, the purpose is to establish whether there is evidence of corruption, abuse of office or other serious dishonesty that has taken place in public office in recent years, and if so what conditions allowed this to happen.
“The Commission of Inquiry is not a court, therefore it will not make findings of criminality,” the website stated.
In encouraging persons to come forward with information, the website said information that is submitted to the Commission should be submitted in one’s own name; however, “if you wish your information to remain confidential or wish to maintain anonymity you should make that clear.”
It also said the Commission of Inquiry Act states that any evidence given to the Commissioner cannot be used in subsequent proceedings. “That means, that any evidence you submit cannot be used in court or in a criminal investigation at a later date.”
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