Some six years after legislators had refused to attend a swearing-in ceremony of Ex-Governor Augustus J.U. Jaspert in 2017, former Speaker Ms Ingrid A. Moses-Scatliffe said she stood on principle when ensuring Mr Jaspert was not sworn in at the House of Assembly (HoA).
Appearing as a guest on the Honestly Speaking show on ZBVI 780 AM on March 21, 2023, Mrs Moses-Scatiffe said the Governor is not supposed to be sworn in at the house, but rather, at another venue since the House is for Sittings.
However, the VI had become accustomed to the practice of swearing in governors at the House, an issue that would change under her tenure since it was not the correct procedure, she said.
Augustus J.U. Jaspert recites then signs
the Oath of Allegiance and the Oath of Due Execution of Office in the
presence of Her Ladyship the Honourable Madam Justice Vicki Ann Ellis at
the Swearing-in and Welcome Ceremony held Tuesday, August 22, 2017, at
the Virgin Islands Supreme Court.
HoA 'is not the venue for that'– Moses-Scatiffe
“So whenever he comes to the house, he comes at the invitation of the Speaker. He comes in instances like the Speech from the Throne. So really and truly, this process about having him sworn… the same with the Judges go to the Governor's Office to get sworn, the same way the Deputy Governor goes, the same way the Governor is supposed to go,” she said.
“The House of Assembly is not the venue for that,” Ms Moses-Scatiffe added.
The Ex-Speaker and At Large Candidate for Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM) said there was a memo written in 1985 reportedly by a former Deputy Governor that said the Governors can be sworn in at the HoA, with no other legal justifications to back up the memo.
“So you have a memo was written at the time by I think was Deputy Governor…I'm like, no, that's not it, that's not correct. So, we cannot continue, and this was my premise.
“When you find out that something is being done wrong, the minute you find out you need to change it,” she said.
Notice was given to find another venue– Moses-Scatiffe
Moses-Scatiffe said when Ex-Governor Jaspert was coming to the VI, she, therefore, gave notice that an alternative venue must be found, since he could not be sworn in at the House and this, she said, set off a chain of reactions with back and forth correspondence with the then Governor John S. Duncan.
“From the first letter, I copied every single one of the 13 Members [of the HoA] and all of the communication so you could see what the chain of communication is, and I never forgot a morning after 6:00 am, my cell phone rang, [it was] Hon Julian Fraser and he called me personally.”
She said the call from the Senior legislator at the time was to tell her she was right about not having Jaspert sworn in at the House.
Veteran legislator Hon Julian Fraser RA,
it has been revealed, was one of the legislators who supported the
decision to not have the swearing in of the UK-appointed Governor in the
House of Assembly Building.
Swear-in Ceremony @ High Court
On Tuesday, August 22, 2017, Mr Jaspert took the Oath of Office to be the Governor of the Virgin Islands
(VI) at the High Court, amid the controversy, after being shut out of the HoA in the move that was spearheaded by then-Speaker Moses-Scatliffe.
Elected Members who were not present for the Ceremony on August 22, 2017, were Hons Ronnie W. Skelton (AL), Myron V. Walwyn (AL), Archibald C. Christian (AL), Marlon A. Penn (R8), the late Delores Christopher (R5), Hon Julian Fraser (R3), Hon Alvera Maduro-Caines (R6), and Melvin M. Turnbull (R2).
The ceremony was also boycotted by Speaker Moses-Scatliffe. The then Attorney General Baba F. Aziz was also absent.
It was Mr Jaspert who would call a Commission of Inquiry
into governance in the Virgin Islands
in January 2021. The CoI
Commissioner handpicked by Jaspert, retired judge Sir Gary R. Hickinbottom
, subsequently recommended imposition of direct rule on the VI by the UK.
After pushback from elected officials and Virgin Islanders, direct rule was withheld but an Order in Council to suspend the local constitution remains in 'reserve' to force the VI to implement recommendations by the same Hickinbottom