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Speaker expresses discontent with governor’s handling of COI report

Speaker expresses discontent with governor’s handling of COI report

Speaker of the House of Assembly Julian Willock has expressed discontentment with Governor John Rankin’s statement regarding the issuance of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) Report to government members.
Willock noted that the governor’s statement did not mention sharing the report with the Speaker of the House.

“Governor, you will appreciate that there are three co-equal branches of government (Legislative, Executive and Judicial), and the Speaker is the head of the Legislative Branch, as set out in the Virgin Islands Constitution Order of 2007 in Sections 63 (1) and 69 (1), along with our Standing Orders and in Erskine May, which is another authority on Parliaments. It is, therefore, concerning that nowhere in your statement of April 21, 2022, you mentioned sharing a copy with the Speaker,” Willock stated.

“Sir, you have not stated whether a copy will be also shared with the Judicial Branch, which also plays a pivotal role in good governance by administering justice and safeguarding our constitution,” Willock said.

“You have made public statements about your commitment to ‘good governance,’ which also means upholding the rule of law. With that premise in mind, I take that it was merely an oversight not to mention that a copy will be shared with the Speaker,” the Speaker added.

Meanwhile, Willock said while he understands the governor has certain powers under the Commissions of Inquiry Act of 1880 and the powers held is fully respected, he strongly disagrees with the distribution timetable.

“It seems the public and the press will be the last to have sight of the report. You will recall that the people of the United Kingdom and the International community, learnt about the Commission of Inquiry (Col), via the press, even before the HoA or residents of the Virgin Islands,” Willock added.

He reiterated that the governor now has an opportunity to ‘right the wrong’ as his statement on when the COI Report will be shared indicates the local political class and “ministers in the UK” have more of an interest than the ordinary residents, civil society, captains of industry and other professionals who were called to give evidence before the Commission.

“I humbly and politely submit these insights for your consideration. Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest regards,” Willock said.

The Governor had announced, on April 21, that he would be sharing a copy of the report with the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition and then the report would be shared with the leaders of the political parties represented in the House of Assembly.
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