The territory’s historic Commission of Inquiry (COI) officially started today when Judge Gary Hickinbottom was sworn in as the sole Commissioner of Inquiry.
The swearing-in ceremony took place in the presence of the Governor and a senior Magistrate.
“I was sworn in as Commissioner this morning and my work begins today. I’ll be supported by a team, including secretary to the Inquiry, Steven Chandler, who’s already been appointed and who is here. But I’ll also be supported by a solicitor and counsel to the Commission — both shortly to be appointed,” Judge Hickinbottom said at a press conference on Friday, January 22.
Inquiry website now live
The public is being invited to log on to the COI’s official website to provide information that may assist the Inquiry.
“[It] will not only have information about the Inquiry but will have a portal by which anyone can raise queries and submit information which falls within the terms of reference and which they consider may be helpful,” Judge Hickinbottom explained before adding that the website is now live.
He said other means of submitting information will be shared on the website and will include, email, Whatsapp and a postal address in the UK.
“We’re currently working on whether we can have a sufficiently safe and secure dropbox here,” Judge Hickinbottom said.
In the meantime, Hickinbottom suggested that hearings will officially begin in weeks and “hopefully some or perhaps all of the proceedings will be in public and will be live streamed”.
He, however, said he “can’t make a commitment yet because we don’t know what the hearings will cover”.
“Over the next couple of weeks I will be inviting a number of people whom I believe might be able to assist the Inquiry to come and talk to me and we propose holding sessions and various locations on Tortola and on the sister islands,” said Hickinnottom.
“I hope that the vast amount of information I have referred will be sent to us over the course of the next month or so, so that we can move on to the next stage of the inquiry,” he added.
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