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HoA Speaker blasts ‘disrespectful’ CoI Commissioner

HoA Speaker blasts ‘disrespectful’ CoI Commissioner

Speaker of the House of Assembly (HoA) Honourable Julian Willock has come to the representation of the legislature and its Honourable Members, following alleged disrespectful treatment meted out by the sole Commissioner of the Inquiry into governance in the Virgin Islands.

Hon Willock was using the occasion of the opening of the Virgin Islands Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Members Training today, Monday, June 14, 2021, to voice his concerns over the behaviour of United Kingdom national, Sir Gary R. Hickinbottom.

Commissioner Gary R. Hickinbottom has allegedly violated parliamentary sovereignty, norms, traditions, convention and the rule of law by asking Honourable members to appear before him on days of HoA sittings despite being told about the schedule of sittings.


‘Blatant disregard for HoA’


After listing a number of concerns with the CoI, which he believes was called by ex-governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert because he was not allowed to get his way with violating the VI Constitution, Hon Willock said what should be of greater concern is the “blatant disregard” by the Commission of Inquiry for the House of Assembly and its members.

"Take for example; the one-man commissioner had the audacity to ask the fifteen grown adult members of the Legislature to write him an essay on what is good governance?”

Speaker Hon Julian Willock was of the view that the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) was called by a 'vexed' ex-governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert because he was not allowed to get his way with violating the Virgin Islands Constitution.


High-handness by CoI Commissioner


Hon Willock said even more insulting and disrespectful was for Hickinbottom to tell professional men and women that they are to use numbered paragraph with no less than 1.5 line spacing and a font size that is no less than 12 and that footnotes should be avoided.

The Speaker said Hickinbottom continued with his “disingenuous behaviour” by suggesting to HoA Members that the position statement must not be more than fifty (50) pages in length and it should not be submitted in PDF format.

“Could you imagine the further high handedness of this one-man commissioner, to tell big men and women in which thirteen (13) were elected by the people of this country that any statement that does not comply will be sent back for amendments? Students nowadays in high schools and colleges are not even given such insulting instructions for a term paper.”

Hickinbottom above the law?


Mr Willock was emphatic that the commissioner continues to violate the rights of members and has no regards for the schedule of the House of Assembly, “where in the British Westminster System it has long been established, almost five hundred (500) years now, that the parliament is sovereign and no other activity, including a commission of inquiry, shall not interrupt the work of parliament.”

The House of Assembly will be sitting this week on June 15, 16 and 17, 2021.

According to Mr Willock; however, Hickinbottom still violated parliamentary sovereignty, norms, traditions, convention and the rule of law by asking Honourable members to appear before him on those dates despite being told about the schedule of sittings.

“Even today many of our Members are not attending this workshop because again they are asked to appear before him on, the day of a Parliamentary activity after we told him in advance of this event.”

Notwithstanding, he said some House of Assembly members, “in the spirit of co-operation”, have decided to so appear before the CoI on the conflicting days.

Members of the UK House of Lords, BVI representative in London and the European Union, Ms Tracy Bradshaw, other Executives and staff of the CPA, were reportedly also in attendance at the workshop opening in a virtual capacity.

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