The Government of the Virgin Islands maintains that it supports a CoI that will be geared towards and fair and just outcome and has even amended legislation to assist the Inquiry; however, it has also accused the CoI led by lone Commissioner and UK national Gary R. Hickinbottom of not operating in the best interest of the territory and its people.
Premier and Minister of Finance Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) has said it has always been the wish of the elected Government to provide the full facts to the Commission and public officers continue to look for and find relevant documents.
He’ however, said he was not surprised that the CoI has again sought to make civil servants look bad when it submitted a large volume of documents a day late last week.
“Regrettably, the Commission has sometimes given the impression that it does not welcome the provision of additional evidence, however illuminating or important. We anticipated that the Commission would once again have criticisms to make about the provision of these documents. However, hard pressed public servants have worked hard to locate and retrieve them and have simply been trying to do their duty, Premier Fahie said in a statement today, October 4, 2021.
According to the Premier, it was also “puzzling” that on Friday, October 1, 2021, the Commission was heavily critical of the Government for missing a deadline for the provision of other information, due by 4:00pm and provided at 10:00am the following day and stated that this delay required the Commission to postpone part of its hearings by two weeks.
“It seems extraordinary that the Commission should say that it needs a fortnight to assess thirty pages of evidence when Ministers and public servants are regularly given a week or less to produce or respond to hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of pages of documents and are even expected to comment in the witness box on documents they have not seen and of which they have received no notice.”
In the same statement, it was disclosed that Government on Friday provided a further quantity of documents to the Commission of Inquiry – around a thousand pages.
“Their discovery was the result of continuing intensive efforts by the public service of the Virgin Islands to find any and all evidence which might be helpful to the Commission in its work.
“This is on top of 9,000 documents, totalling 130,000 pages, and dozens of affidavits provided to the COI in response to its requests already, a very time-consuming task which has soaked up a huge proportion of the administrative capacity of the public service while a continuing global health emergency continues to rage,” the statement read.
The CoI, which was called by the controversial former Virgin Islands’ Governor, Augustus J. U. Jaspert, the close friend of the UK Prime Minister and imperialist-minded Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, has been criticised for burdening the VI in the worst global pandemic in a 100 years.
The UK Government has used the pandemic as an excuse not to have a CoI into its own management of the COVID-19 pandemic and spending but has seen it necessary to call one on the ‘self-determination-minded’ Fahie Government that was preparing for Constitutional Review with the UK.