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Details of COI hearings should not be publicised, Sir Gary warns

Inquiry Commissioner, the Right Honourable Sir Gary Hickinbottom.

Oral hearings of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) commence today (May 4) and Sir Gary Hickinbottom has issued a warning that participants are not allowed to share or publicise any details of proceedings.

Sir Gary — the inquiry’s sole Commissioner — issued the warning during his opening statements at today’s hearing.

“Unless and until I declare otherwise, no one is allowed to publicise any part of it (hearings), in any way. If there is any such publicity, then I can – and usually will – investigate the cause of the leak and take appropriate action against anyone who has caused or facilitated the breach of confidence,” Sir Gary stated.

“Further, it is important that I emphasise that no recordings can be made of any hearing – public or private – save for the authorised recording that I am causing to be made. A transcript will be made of each hearing. If the hearing is private, then a transcript may be provided to participants on the basis of a confidentiality undertaking. If a hearing is public – or if I direct that a private hearing be made public – then the default position will be that the relevant transcript will be posted on the COI website,” he added.

The Commissioner then underscored that the COI is not a court of law.

He said the inquiry is simply conducting an investigation, as required by my terms of reference.

“The hearings are not adversarial, but inquisitorial. I would ask all those who may be involved in the hearings to bear that in mind. Counsel to the Inquiry, Mr Bilal Rawat, is not here to promote any cause: he has been appointed, by the Attorney General on my recommendation, to promote the public interest and to ensure, so far as he can, that the COI complies with its terms of reference for the benefit of all who live in this territory. That too is my overarching and primary consideration. I hope, and expect, all witnesses and those who might represent them to share those aims,” Hickinbottom stated.

The inquiry

Former Governor Augustus Jaspert launched the COI on January 19 to establish “whether there is information that corruption, abuse of office or other serious dishonesty in relation to officials, whether statutory, elected or public may have taken place in recent years”.

The Commissioner is required to report his findings and recommendations to the territory’s sitting Governor (John Rankin) by July. However, if necessary, the Governor can extend that time to October. Sir Gary has not yet determined whether an extension is required but said he will make such a determination in the next few weeks.

Persons are still invited to share information with the COI via its website and other previously mentioned mediums. The government alone has disclosed nearly 4,000 official documents to the investigating team.

Follow BVI New’s coverage of the 2021 Commission of Inquiry on Instagram @BVINewsOnline #TrackingTransparency at www.bvinews.com.

Copyright 2021 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

28 Comments

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  1. done talk says:

    Claude done talk already so I don’t know what you could do now

    Like 13
  2. Please says:

    Don’t play with them jigglebottoms, they too crooked

    Like 10
    Dislike 2
  3. Strupes says:

    Bulls**t! If you have a hearing, it should be public. This is democracy at all!!!!

    Like 10
    Dislike 28
    • Gain says:

      It is essential that they hear the evidence in confidence because otherwise people might think the government will take revenge on them if they tell the truth and the government is found to have done wrong. Same applies to people not in government.

      Like 15
      Dislike 1
      • Middle finger says:

        Bull crap. @Gain you chatting as if the current government is the only government under investigations. Past governments also so what crap you talking about government taking revenge? You have close family ties involve in all aspects and you want Andrew out but Myron, Mark, and gang out and staying out.

        Set of power hungry evilness in this place.

        Like 1
        Dislike 5
        • ? says:

          Who more power hungry than the current leader? Myron, Mark and gang staying out yeah but they still look like choir boys compared to this group and the leader takes the cake.

    • To strupes aka CLAUDE says:

      STFU Claude

      Like 3
      Dislike 1
    • @Strupes says:

      you as stupid as you sound?

      Like 3
      Dislike 1
    • No sense says:

      This is the protect the anonymity of the individuals. It does NOT need to be public at this time because the COI is NOT a court of law.
      BTW i’m in no way connection to the COI. Just be vigilant. We the public have everything to gain don’t let the rich and powerful influene you.

  4. Anonymous says:

    What can one person, a group or a race of people do to confront evil?

    Like 1
    Dislike 1
  5. GTFOH says:

    How ironic, the reasons for the COI could be summed up to secrecy and a lack of transparency in government and the solution is more secrecy and lack of transparency???. Other than the contract signings most of the negotiations and terms are done behind closed doors leading to speculation by the public. The Governor opened the door to a COI which whether merited or not will be a stain on the BVI Government forever. A public hearing should have been the best course taken. A public accusation needs a public rebuttal or confirmation. They are those that will never be satisfied no matter what the outcome is and holding this in private will fuel conspiracy theories.

    Like 9
    Dislike 4
  6. Jah says:

    God hates the BVI. He makes us suffer

  7. Mr. Kickinthebottom says:

    If you are doing a commission of inquiry, every single detail of it should be public. When it’s all finish, do not present no stupid report telling us differently; we want to know precisely what you are talking about and what is being said. This is not a communist country. I won’t believe a word that you say.

    Like 4
    Dislike 13
    • Not Really says:

      If there is no substance to the accusation there’s no need for it to be public. That would just fuel more hearsay. The COI’s purpose is only to investigate. Just be patient and say vigilant

  8. Patience says:

    Atleast wait till the end it will be public as for now mind your business, the people of this country acted blind and didn’t take action in their hands regarding government spending now want every detail as its dug up. Be vocal and not sheeps

    Like 9
    Dislike 1
  9. CEMENT says:

    CHICKENBOTTOM LOOK LIKE A EVIL MAN HOPE HE WILL BE FAIR @ THE END

    Like 1
    Dislike 6
  10. PT9 says:

    @Gain, I was about ready to write a blog when I saw yours you hit the nail on the head, it seems like Sir Gary knows the type of people he is dealing with, and if people of the BVI can’t understand that they havent been paying attention.

  11. YOUTH says:

    Everything about the Inquiry should be made public. If not then this whole thing will be questionable.

    • ? says:

      Wouldn’t the results be in a report. We all know what’s happening in the BVI here and if you’re truly a Youth you’ll also want the place to be cleaned so when your turn comes to take over it would be spic and span or very close to. If everyone is clean and have been honest and transparent in their dealings then everything should be good. Our own Audit coming out clean would do us good – how likely is that ? We will all find out soon

      Like 1
      Dislike 1
  12. The Nation says:

    So wait….the hearings are confidential…but the commissioner can make recommendations that a far reaching including suspending the constitution and having direct rule like they did in T&C…and yet the public should not be privy to these hearings…so who is this commission of inquiry being done for…the VI public or the UK elite?? Like really…this is not democracy… what does the UK have to hide…y’all defame the BVI and then want to hold your hearings in secrecy…let it out in the open…

  13. Star Chamber! says:

    Hmmmm….. UK colonialism…when will they stop disenfranchising African people and their descendants. Hold the inquiry in public…there was no need for this if you going do it in secrecy…you could have carried out your investigations and bring people to trial in the Courts where there would be open justice. We will always question your actions and motives UK…but I guess y’all don’t really care…the corruption was long before March 2019…y’all knew it…y’all timing is bad…

    • Who knows? says:

      Can it be that the Governor thought this government would have been different but realise they are the same or worse? Many remember that NDP were called corrupt by the current leader and they were, and that corruption was echoed throughout the territory by members of the current government. Cronies from board to board and cronies Contracts including the health wrist bands for corona, barge and buildings blatantly doing it. The people of the BVI know what going on and what going on is corruption.

    • Kwani says:

      We are NOT African! We have nothing to do with Africa.
      I have African friends and they get very upset when I tell them what some ppl claim to be African. Stop it!

      • Africans,yes. says:

        We are Africans, yes. Our DNA is linked to Africa. They brought us here to be children of the unknown family, but look at our customs, Africans, we are.

  14. Africans,yes. says:

    We are Africans, yes. Our DNA is linked to Africa. They brought us here to be children of the unknown family, but look at our customs, Africans, we are.

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