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Speaker only wanted CoI lawyers to follow VI’s law - Skelton-Cline

Speaker only wanted CoI lawyers to follow VI’s law - Skelton-Cline

Radio Talk show host, Claude O. Skelton-Cline has defended the post of Speaker held by Hon Julian Willock under the constitution of the Virgin Islands (VI) as one who ultimately has a right to defend the laws of the territory as the presiding head of the House of Assembly.

Skelton-Cline was addressing the issue of the motion brought before the HoA to exempt the speaker from having to pay legal fees in his personal capacity, in the withdrawn case against the three Commission of Inquiry Lawyers.

According to Skelton-Cline, Mr Julian Willock could not on his own, go into the court of law to "address a matter relative to the functionaries, the practitioners who were carrying out the exercise of the Commission of Inquiry,” he said in the November 3, 2021, edition of his show.

He said the Speaker’s motive was based on VI laws, its constitution and the principles that are embedded in that constitution, which states that the three lawyers, Bilal M. Rawat, Andrew King, and Rhea Harrikissoon, should have been admitted to the VI Bar.

“Apparently that was not done, so there was a breach of the law, the Speaker of the House [and] his Deputy… on behalf of the Branch of government that he presides over… then seeks to remedy the situation.”

The CoI lawyers have since made an application to be admitted to the VI Bar.

Talk show host Claude O. Skelton-Cline has labelled the ruling by Justice Adrian Jack as a judicial overreach.

Who will defend VI laws?

Skelton Cline further stated the Speaker called attention to the matter based upon the law, principle, practice, and the constitution to say that the CoI cannot be investigating good governance, processes and system and while simultaneously violating one of the territory’s laws through its three lawyers.

“Now if the legislature, if the House of Assembly, and the Speaker of the house… as the fiduciary, if they in their posts do not and cannot and or will not ensure that our laws, our institution, our constitution, the principles that undergird all of that, are hold strong, then tell me who else can, or who else will, or who should have?” he questioned.

Skelton-Cline related that Hon Willock therefore, in his official capacity, did exactly such to ensure the laws of the territory are upheld.

The Speaker and the deputy had lodged objections to the Applications of the three to practice law for the CoI on the basis that the Applicants are not fit and proper persons because they; (i) Were practicing law despite not having being admitted to practice law in the Virgin Islands; and/or (ii). Held themselves out to be solicitors and barristers despite not having being admitted to practise law in the Virgin Islands; and/or (iii.) Have practiced law in the Virgin Islands without a practicing certificate.

Judicial overreach

However, Hon Willock subsequently withdrew his application after it was found that Attorney General Dawn J. Smith did not grant consent for him to move forward with an injunction that had already been filed in the court.

In a strange move, Justice Adrian Jack ruled that Hon Willock, despite making the application in his capacity as Speaker, be made to pay the legal fees out of his own pocket.

Jack's decision has been labeled a judicial overreach.


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