BVI News

Complaints Commissioner raises impartiality concerns about COI

Complaints Commissioner, Erica Smith-Penn. (GIS photo)

Complaints Commissioner, Erica Smith-Penn levelled a startling claim of impropriety against Sir Gary Hickinbottom during yesterday’s hearing of the Commission of Inquiry (COI).

During the hearing, Smith-Penn told Sir Gary, the sole Commissioner of the Inquiry, she was concerned about the independence and impartiality of the COI, given that it was her understanding that Sir Gary first arrived in the BVI on the same flight as the former governor, Augustus Jaspert.

Smith-Penn then put on record that she intends to raise her concerns with the current Governor and Deputy Governor since she felt her concerns were of “critical national importance”.

“In my training, insofar as independence, insofar as impartiality laws, I am concerned as the [Complaints] Commissioner, that when you, Commissioner [Sir Gary], arrived in the territory, you arrived with the governor who was responsible for the Commissioner of Inquiry,” she told the COI.

“And as regards the rules …” Smith-Penn began before being interrupted.

Sir Gary told the Complaints Commissioner her arguments were simply not appropriate at the time and said he had made this clear to her prior.

Please write to us

Earlier, Smith-Penn repeatedly attempted to make legal submissions to the COI orally. But, Sir Gary repeatedly advised her to desist from doing so because, unlike parties such as the government, she was not a recognised ‘participant’ of the COI. The COI boss further explained to Smith Penn that she must first apply to become a participant of the COI. And if granted, she will be able to make legal submissions at hearings.

He subsequently asked the Complaints Commission to make her submissions in writing but Smith-Penn proceeded to make oral arguments anyway.

The Complaints Commissioner said her office had very limited resources and, as such, was not able to make submissions in the way the COI wanted. She further told the COI that she felt it was a simple matter that was being brought to the attention of the Commission.

Helpful items only please

Sir Gary explained that the legal submissions would be helpful if presented in writing along with the legal basis underpinning them.

“If you wish to make further submissions on this point … then please write to me and we will ensure that any voice that should be heard, is heard. But now is not the time and this is not the form that is helpful to me,” Sir Gary insisted.

And after stating that she wanted to put something else on the record, Smith-Penn was advised that she could not do so unless whatever she had to say would be helpful to the COI and was not a ‘legal submission’.

The Complaints Commissioner insisted that she felt that writing to the COI would not “give the fairness that is required”. Sir Gary replied that he was the judge of the proceedings and it was his job to make any determination on fairness.

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88 Comments

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  1. Howdy doody says:

    The Commissioner is even more self important that the Speaker (and I did not think that was possible).

    Like 29
    Dislike 35
    • Lmao says:

      Now she have a big mouth under the direction of Foy and his slick, Silk Law. The truth is as always. Kick up dust to take away focus from the real matter at hand. Crooks and criminals within the government. Yup flying on the same airplane is right up there with the pier park, BVI airways, the hospital, the Covid relief to fish, farm, school and churches.

      Like 89
      Dislike 3
    • Afro-Carbbean says:

      I could not bear to listen to this disrespectful display, if someone treats you with civility and respect you should be mature enough to return it.

      Not sure that she is the best person to head any govt unit and certainly not complaints commissioner. She was incapable of listening and participating in the process in a sensible and fair manner. Nothing more was achieved than making us look like simple minded lunatics

      Like 89
      Dislike 7
    • Anonymous says:

      “he Complaints Commissioner said her office had very limited resources and, as such, was not able to make submissions in the way the COI wanted.”

      They only asked you to write it down!

      Can’t you write?

      We look like we run by children in this country.

      Like 69
      Dislike 3
    • Fahie Twursdandeth says:

      You know you’ve lost the argument when you claim someone is biased because they sat on the same plane as someone else!
      Are we really being led by these muppets?

      I once sat next to Lorena Bobbit on a plane. She was nice. We chatted. But I’m fairly sure she never tried to get me to cut off my man’s cock.

      Like 59
      Dislike 5
    • Rubber Duck says:

      Who do I complain to about the Complaints Commissioner.?

      Like 55
      Dislike 2
      • lol says:

        lol nice one

        Like 17
      • Anon says:

        Easy. The COI.

      • Suzie says:

        The sequence questions/answers and thoughts the office will bring to light in a complaint:
        1. Did you report it to the head of the Dept. (well Inland Rev. should know their office lagging by now)
        2. No your complaint will not be anonymous (so welcome any bias treatment in the land of discrimination)

        Good luck with Complains Commission: no revenue in no revenue out + Effectiveness no measurement = people of no confidence.

    • ragga says:

      So far there only so few ppl I trust in the civil service. Rosalie Adams and her son and the Accountant General.

      Like 8
      Dislike 8
    • Ugh says:

      Have you ever had a few drinks or smoked some high grade herb and felt invincible?????cause that’s what went down with ***.

    • Lol says:

      So the complaints commissioner is complaining???

      How ironic and amusing…

  2. Soft / Hard Ball'$ says:

    THIS IS WHAT YOU CALLED A ” CURVE BALL. ” SIR GARY DID NOT SEE THIS ONE, THATS A”STRIKE”!!!

    Like 12
    Dislike 69
    • Give me a break says:

      After Andrew bawl and snort about corruption and call the COI, call the COI, GUS called it and picked the commissioner and you think them arriving on the same flight is a sign of collusion?

      We aren’t concerned about the clear corruption, nepotism, cronyism and collusion we have here, but 2 men arriving on a flight, to do what we called for is systemic damage to this process….

      Try take several seats.

      Like 102
      Dislike 2
  3. Belonger says:

    U have a lot of voice now. We didn’t know u existed.
    U never heard the many complaints from we suffering peasants?
    All the injustice, all the nepotism, all the victimization but not a word from u.
    Go siddung.

    Like 116
    Dislike 6
  4. Ugh says:

    She gave me “speaker vibes” and not in a good way.

    Like 79
    Dislike 4
    • Rolling my eyes says:

      She was very out of order and her tone was disrespectful. Erica you should be ashamed and I see you in a new light and its not a very bright one. You did worst than the …esteem..

      First of all you were not there as Registrar of High Court so trying to correct statements made by the DDP and COP could have been done by the current Registrar.

      My question is why did they move you, was that a promotion or you were no longer fit for purpose???

      Like 53
      Dislike 6
  5. Beautiful says:

    I applaud her for this!!! Put the hammer on him yes, only his aired oral, questioning, submissions must be seen and heard by the world. Let it be fair and let the world see and hear the other side of the fence as well. He is clearly dictating what he wants to be public in support of his adgenda. Yes BVI Speak Up!! I agree that there is a lot of things in government that needs to be addressed and quite a bit has been exposed but be fair how you do it.

    Like 13
    Dislike 87
    • @Beautiful says:

      People first need to understand what a COI is and how it’s run. The Commissioner simply asked her to submit her legal claims but I guess she doesn’t have enough staff or time to follow the rules and sit down and write her legal claims in a professional manner. Which is odd since she has no complaints by the people and is only making office visits. Seems like she has time!

      If you have a strong legal claim surely it should be no problem to write them as any good lawyer can. Performing for the camera gets you headlines but does not always win your arguement. People like this need to know the difference between a COI and a Criminal Proceeding but perhaps guilt will make you eager to defend yourself or find any way you can to avoid the COI arriving at the evidence you feel they are seeking.

      The reality is, the BVI public has long had issues with certain politicians and the way government business is conducted. People complained to the governer because complaint commission was bias and others complained hoping to get certain people out of office so here comes what they asked for so the pressure is on.

      Like 48
      Dislike 2
      • Voted For says:

        I personally think the Complaints commissioner should be voted for just like the speaker of the house should be voted for

    • When? says:

      She ain’t put the hammer on no one. She showed how s**ple m**ded she is as a lawyer.

      Like 55
      Dislike 6
      • Wah? says:

        You serious? She a lawyer?! F**k me. What lawyer school she go to that didn’t teach her any manners when she in a business setting?
        An SHE the person we sposed to call when we need help? Lord save us.

        Like 50
        Dislike 4
        • Monyca says:

          Why do you think she was
          transferred to that stagnant position as a bench warmer from High Court Registrar… It will all be divulged sooner rather than later. I wonder who really file complaints with that office though because I think it is pointless anyway

    • :-( says:

      You and she can go back under the rock from whence you came. Before sitting before the commissioner and seeming to think this gave her a platform from which to sprue nonsense! WHERE WAS SHE?

      Black people need to recognize when they have an opportunity and when they do not….pick the right moment and make it count.

      This was the wrong moment.

      Like 37
      Dislike 2
    • @Beautiful says:

      If she,a lawyer, wanted to put the hammer on him she would have done so long time with written legal submission. Her “concern” was initiated weeks ago when the plane landed and long time before her scheduled appearance at the ongoing hearing.
      Making a f**l of herself simply adds another blow to the legitimacy and lack of sensibility of our current Governance.

      Like 33
      Dislike 1
    • Truth Teller says:

      You are just as silly as she is. Puffed up and self important like Willock. Nonsense.

      Like 9
      Dislike 6
  6. Seriously says:

    She is worried they caught a plane together?? Really?
    What about the fact they were both in the UK at the same time?? Does this lady realise how d**b she sounds?
    Madam if they were going to confer then it wouldn’t be on a plane with a bunch of people listening. Pretty certain if it did happen it happened waaaaayyy before they got on the plane. This is not helping the BVI not look like a bunch of jokers or simpletons.

    Like 73
    Dislike 3
    • @seriously says:

      obviously that is what the Complaint’s commissioner is alluding to you dimwit. Yall people act like y’all so smart and are so slow.

      She is making it more clearer that there collusion in the UK was so synchronized and planned that they even came to the BV on the same plane… coincidence maybe? NOPE!!

      But y’all people so blind and can’t read between the lines.

      How can a commissioner who was hand picked by a scorned governor, a governor who has publicly called the BVI corrupted, be unbiased in a commission of inquiry that the governor chose him to come and preside over?

      Like 6
      Dislike 22
      • woah there says:

        careful calling other dimwit while displaying such traits. That Antigua flight regularly has barristers from different sides of cases on it. Hotels regularly have all parties in them and even our restaurants. Professionals can manage not to ruin their cases and careers by doing anything untoward.

        casting aspersions without any factual basis to back it up only shows up the Complaints Commisssioner. If one had been Registrar of Lands in recent times, seeing what has happened there, one might be tempted to come out swinging trying to deflect…

        Like 14
      • Judge says:

        Can it be true? Can it possibly be that a BVi
        lawyer can be able to breath, to eat, to speak.
        Yet cannot understand how it is normal to be
        on a plane with someone without that being wrong?
        Lorena Bobbit’s friend said it best. Our country really is led by people who aspire to mediocrity.

        Like 7
        Dislike 1
      • Resident says:

        I don’t think Jaspert was scorned at all. I think the average person who lives here thought very highly of him. We would have been doomed without him after Irma, when the elected government was AWOL.

  7. Please says:

    If the commissioner came with Jasper what Business is it of hers. The point is that he is not forcing anyone to say anything that is not true. The process has been very fair and the attacks on these men are un call for.

    This is why the Complaint Commission is deemed ineffective, lack of impartiality. When anyone complains depending on who it is it goes nowhere. You have department heads doing a lot of nonsense including working outside of Job in conflict of interest.

    What she means her department doesn’t deal with Personnel issues why form a complaint commission that doesn’t deal with such things.

    That position should be given to someone outside of the region just like how if it was not for this commission to expose a lot of things and give the people hope for a better tomorrow it would not have happened.

    Like 49
    Dislike 3
  8. Hmmm says:

    Send help. I feel so shame for my BVI, when u have these kind of people in authority.

    Now everyone can see why she is no longer Registrar of High Court.

    Like 74
    Dislike 5
  9. Speakers Sister says:

    By any chance would this lady be related to the honourable speakers as she certainly lacks manners like him. She tried to take over the COI and is impervious to instruction. How many times did the commissioners have to tell her “address your concerns in writing”

    Like 63
    Dislike 4
  10. Has nothing better to do says:

    than complain. Its quite a stretch to suggest that because the commissioner and the former governor flew on the same plane they are somehow colluding .

    Does she know where they sat and if they had any conversation at all on that plane if any?

    Please…this is the height of ridiculousness. Some simpleton @ the airport carried news to her and she comes up with this bs.

    She should worry more about what her hair dresser has done to her hair and demand a refund.

    Tired of these people now.

    Like 55
    Dislike 3
  11. Pandora says:

    Oh, now you suddenly appear after having done NOTHING for so long! You Ma’am are a sheep following a false Shepard! You’ve done nothing to help the people!

    Like 46
    Dislike 3
  12. @Ugh says:

    It was horrible. I couldn’t listen to it.

    Like 40
    Dislike 3
  13. See Stuff says:

    MY opinion is that the lady has issues. Must be the indignant polluted air courtesy of Pockwood Pond but sumting missing in a few of these high profile people in our Gov. This includes the current Premier. This CoI is a tragedy unveiling the tragedy of our pectscle of current Governance.

    Like 36
    Dislike 4
  14. Rubber Duck says:

    Won’t be bothering with her then. Her predecessor seemed a lot better.

  15. See Stuff says:

    MY opinion is that the lady has issues. Must be the indignant polluted air courtesy of Pockwood Pond but sumting missing in a few of these high profile people in our Gov. This includes the current Premier. This CoI is a tragedy unveiling the tragedy of our spectacle of current Governance.

  16. CAN IT says:

    MS. LADY PLEASE HAVE A SEAT. AND WHO ARE YOU SUPPOSE TO BE AGAIN? WHY SPEACK OUT AND VOICE YOUR CONCERNS NOW. WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE WRONGS WERE TAKING PLACE. WHY DID YOU NOT VOICE YOUR CONCERNS WHEN THE WRONGS WERE TAKING PLACE MISSYYYY???!!!. I AM QUITE SURE YOU HAD KNOWLEDGE OF EVERYTHING.

    Like 21
    Dislike 1
  17. Curious says:

    Seriously? So contracts can be awarded with no documents and to friends and family members, information requested by the Auditor general and not supplied, people and buildings awarded positions and contacts which are not out put for tender, grants given to non farmers and non fishermen, the pier park costing double than $35million quoted and murders committed without any suspects arrested at all, drug smuggling, Covid breaking illegal entries with no convictions and she is concerned because the Commissioner shared a flight with the former Governor? Please give us a break.

    Like 37
    Dislike 1
    • Think says:

      Cant share a flight without some kind of discussion behind the scenes…. think about that she trying to show you something

      Like 4
      Dislike 15
  18. Really? says:

    THE COMPLAINTS COMMISSIONER? WHAT ABOUT WHEN COMPLAINTS IS MADE AND YOU, YEAH YOU, WOULD ALLEGEDLY INFORM YOUR CRONIES THAT ONE OF THEIR EMPLOYEES FILED A COMPLAINT AGAINST THEM. LADY, YOU ARE JUST AS CR***ED AND CO****PT AS THE REST OF THEM ARE.

    Like 42
    Dislike 2
  19. Maybe says:

    It is time for her to take a long EXTENDED VACATION.

    Like 37
    Dislike 2
  20. SMH says:

    Lawdie! Every Hen and Fowl Cock dey auh cackle and crow. Where were? And Where are they in Terms of the Citizens? Big Position, Large Salary and Little Awareness. ??????

    Like 29
    Dislike 2
  21. itstime says:

    @Beautiful, She won’t have any hammer to put down, the world is hearing and seen the other side 5 days a week and it’s not a good picture for the government. Sir Gary told the Complaints Commissioner her arguments were simply not appropriate at the time and said he had made this clear to her prior. Earlier, Smith-Penn repeatedly attempted to make legal submissions to the COI orally. But, Sir Gary repeatedly advised her to desist from doing so because, unlike parties such as the government, she was not a recognized ‘participant’ of the COI. The COI boss further explained to Smith Penn that she must first apply to become a participant of the COI. And if granted, she will be able to make legal submissions at hearings. Most of you don’t understand that the BVI is not running the show if they were we will be right back to square one.

    Like 22
    Dislike 1
  22. COI corrupt says:

    The COI is a corrupt media campaign. They don’t allow persons to speak both sides of the coin or address concerns of impartiality.

    The questions they ask are leading and when they don’t get an answer that fits their assumptions and agenda they ask it about tens times leading the questioned person which is very very close to a form of coercion.

    Like 5
    Dislike 40
    • @COI corrupt says:

      quit the bull – watch the video. we can all see she was repeatedly told how she can properly making the submissions she ignorantly kept insisting to try to make. She was pulling on the push door despite being politely, clearly and repeatedly advised to simply push. embarrassment

      Like 14
      Dislike 2
  23. People says:

    She is right coming to the bvi on the same plane is not a coincidence, it’s a conspiracy to try and take over our beautiful BVI.

    Like 3
    Dislike 42
    • Exactly says:

      She is making it more clearer that their collusion in the UK was so synchronized and planned that they even came to the BVI on the same plane… coincidence maybe? NOPE!!

      But y’all people so blind and can’t read between the lines.

      How can a commissioner who was hand picked by a scorned governor, a governor who has publicly called the BVI corrupted, be unbiased in a commission of inquiry that the governor chose him to come and preside over?

      Like 1
      Dislike 15
      • Gus says:

        Gus did not call the BVi corrupt. He said there were acts of corruption. – This was not a lie. Andrew said the BVI had the most corrupt government ever and we should have a COI.
        Gus gave him what he asked for.
        Andrew said it should be public for transparency and he again got what he asked for.

        Why are you vexed?

        Ask and ye shall receive. Seek and ye shall find. Knock and the door will be opened unto you.

        We got what we asked, sought and called for. I am not vexed. I am enlightened.

        Like 31
      • @Exactly says:

        you’re only here because his yellow rag is not working

  24. @Beautiful says:

    If she,a lawyer, wanted to put the hammer on him she would have done so long time with written legal submission. Her “concern” was initiated weeks ago when the plane landed and long time before her scheduled appearance at the ongoing hearing.
    Making a f**l of herself simply adds another blow to the legitimacy and lack of sensibility of our current Governance.

    Like 11
  25. I THINK says:

    THE W***H NEED TO GET HER BROOM AND TAKE A FLIGHT / SHE WANTS TO DIRECT THE COMMISSIONER ON HOW HE SHOULD CONDUCT THE COI / AND SHE CANNOT DO IT IN HER OWN OWN CASTLE / SHE AND THE SELF CLAIMED ESTEEMED ONE ARE OF THE SAME FEATHER

    Like 16
    Dislike 2
  26. Shame on us says:

    She sounded cr**y.. That’s the best we can do…We were better off bringing Miss Brathwaite back, She sounds much more classy, more knowledgeable and genuine that this Penn lady…I have some complains but I’m going to her..she is a turn off…The complains going to down to single digits, no one will want to go to that mad house..

    Like 22
  27. This is sad says:

    Look what the honourable complains commissioner’s office has reduced to. A mental institution.,. She sounded off. .Mrs Brathwaite was so classy, knowledgeable and genuine…This thing no one going down There

    Like 18
  28. ???? says:

    SO WHAT DO WE HAVE TO SAY , WHEN JASPERT AND THE NEW GVOR… WAS IN TORTOLA, @ THE SAME.

  29. @ PEOPLE says:

    WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN LIVING ? OR YOU A CRACK HEAD / YOU ALL TURNING THIS BEAUTIFUL ISLAND INTO A DRUG HEAVEN AND IS SO SO BAREFACED TO THE BRITS AND RACISM TO HIDE THE FACT

  30. My View says:

    So im guessing your thinking they came on the same plane by coincidence right?

    Dont be foolish, she is letting the public know that they had to have been planning in the UK to have been able to come in on the same plane.

    Is that so hard to understand?

    Like 3
    Dislike 12
    • HAS NOTHING ( BETTER ) 2 DO says:

      WELL FOR A START – SHE AND WIGLOX CAN EXCHANGE THEIR HAIR – SADLY THAT WOULD BE A AN ALL OUR WAR – BECAUSE THAT DUDE WILL FLIP OUT ON ANYONE OR ANYTHING THAT DARE TO GET TOO CLOSE HIS PRIZED POSSESSION AND IF YOU THINK HE’S PRETTY NOW – THEN YOU WONT WANT SEE WHAT HE CAN TURN INTO WHEN HE GET OFFENDED ??

      Like 13
    • Question says:

      What’s the issue with them coming on the same plane? You’re saying the Commissioner can’t be objective because he came on the same plane? Highly judgmental and is an attack on his character.

      • stay woke says:

        They did no t come on the same plane by coincidence… After the governor chose him, they had to have talked about how to move forward with the commission of inquiry in the UK before coming here!

        Like 2
        Dislike 1
  31. Victim says:

    She sounds to be a bigger jacka** with as big an ego as the Labor T***man . Are they related .

  32. Clearly says:

    CLEARLY THIS SITE IS ANTI GOVERNMENT & PRO BRITISH.

    Like 4
    Dislike 22
  33. Haha says:

    Well folks this COI is exposing the persons that are currupt and the problem in the BVI government. Please can we get rid of these criminals. They not slick nor smart. Even if we have these corrupt ppl in government they should not be this crass n basic.

    Like 13
  34. Investigate the Complaints Comissioner says:

    The Complaints Comissioner’s job is to put forth valid complaints in the HOA within a specific time frame. I know of one instance in which the comissioner has not submitted a valid legal complaint for several months. How many others are there?

    It is not her job to play politics. Her job is to act as an advocate for the people.

    Investigate her.

    Like 11
  35. BuzzBvi says:

    I have a complaint against the Complaints Commissioner.

  36. MOVE ALONG ALREADY says:

    HER AND THE SPEAKER NEED TO GET ON A ELECTRIC CONTROL BROOM ? AND FLY OFF INTO THE SUNSET, WIG AND ROBE FLYING IN THE WIND.

  37. Plato says:

    I could not bear to watch it to the end. She was there as a witness only. But she refused to listen to instructions from the person in charge of the COI.

    Over and over and over and over again. It’s like the COI commissioner was patiently talking to a child.

  38. Alwyn says:

    The woman’s head is hard. I hope that is not how she is guiding her children.

  39. Stupes says:

    Woman please stop making excuses forthese bunch of jackals and hyenas we have here raiding the tax payers money to get off. Please have a seat!!!!

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