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Premier seeks a genuine and fairly conducted commission of inquiry

Premier seeks a genuine and fairly conducted commission of inquiry

Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie said that the British Virgin Islands is seeking a “just outcome” in the Commission of Inquiry put forward by His Excellency the Governor, Augustus J. U. Jaspert.
Premier Fahie said that the impending Commission of Inquiry must reach a “just outcome”, the results of which will be “widely accepted as having fairly and rigorously examined the facts and matters that are said to be the basis of issuing the Commission of Inquiry.”

The Premier communicated this to His Excellency Governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert, in a letter dated 21 January, 2021.

In the letter, the Premier reiterated the position of the Government of the Virgin Islands that the Commission of Inquiry is welcomed, and that the Ministers of Government have no objection to a “genuine, fairly conducted and fully independent examination of any allegations of wrongdoing if there are reasonable grounds to suspect they may have substance.”

As such, the Premier added, “I am determined that the elected Government of the Virgin Islands will play a full, cooperative and constructive part in the work of the Inquiry.”

The Premier advised the Governor that the Government has appointed the international law firm Withers and leading counsel The Right Honourable Sir Geoffrey Cox QC, the former Attorney General of England and Wales, to advise and represent it in all matters relating to the Commission of Inquiry.

The Premier explained the basis for the appointment of the legal representatives, “My concern is to ensure that the Inquiry is assisted in its task of reaching a just outcome, which will be widely accepted as having fairly and rigorously examined the facts and matters that are said to be the basis of issuing the Commission of Inquiry.”

He stated, “This can only be achieved if the Inquiry, as no doubt it will, acts with the maximum of transparency, applies proper probative standards to the information it receives and affords a fair opportunity for important allegations of fact to be tested. Only if that is so, will any recommendations for improvements in governance and administrative culture that it might eventually make be likely to take root and be effective.”

The Premier indicated that the Members of Cabinet were not consulted by the Governor prior to the decision to issue the Commission of Inquiry or in the framing of its Terms of Reference.

Premier Fahie said that “the lining up of international press coverage of the announcement before the Territory’s Cabinet was informed of the issue the Commission of Inquiry scarcely calculated to increase public confidence in your willingness to respect the constitutional role of our democratic institutions or to encourage the local collaboration and support that your letter seeks.”

The full text of the Premier’s letter to the Governor is published below in the interest of transparency and for the information of the public in this very important matter.
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