BVI News

Discourteous! Unanswered email prompts further hiccups, says COI

Inquiry Commissioner, the Right Honourable Sir Gary Hickinbottom.

An email sent to Withers LLP, the Attorney General’s (AG) legal team representing government in the Commission of Inquiry (COI), was left unanswered to for weeks, prompting Commissioner Sir Gary Hickinbottom to label the behaviour as discourteous.

Sir Gary indicated that the lack of response has now forced him to make adjustments to his timetable and how he was going to deal with matters related to the government’s Assistance Grant Programme.

“On the 21st of September, two weeks ago, I wrote to the Attorney General, as the Attorney General, not as the representative of the elected ministers, asking for her assistance, if she wished to give it, in respect to legal matters which have arisen in respect of the Assistance Grant Programme,” Sir Gary said.

According to Sir Gary, a response did not come from the AG until he had enquired recently as to whether one would be forthcoming.

He said the response was unhelpful and said these matters likely would have required some level of legal submissions.

The Commissioner expressed regret that there was no one out of the Attorney General’s “large team, including the IRU (Inquiry Response Unit),” who could make any oral submissions in the matter.

“More worryingly, the fact that the Attorney and the IRU have kept this course secret until minutes before the 4 pm deadline after the two weeks’ notice I have given is, at the very least, discourteous,” Sir Gary said.

No discourtesy, AG’s team just overwhelmed with work

But attorney Martha Eker-Male, who represented the AG during the hearing, attempted to defend the late response, assuring the Commissioner that there was no intention to be discourteous.

“I do wish to assure you that there was no attempt at discourtesy on behalf of the IRU or the Attorney General. There has just been simply a huge amount of work to do this week, as I’m sure you and your team are finding as well. And I will, of course, convey your directions to the team,” Eker-Male said.

But Sir Gary did not appear to take this response as being sufficient.

“No matter how heavy the workload—and as you say we’re dealing with a workload as heavy as anyone–that does not explain why this e-mail which sets out the various reasons why we’re not getting submissions, why that message could not have been given earlier in which case, I may have been able to make further directions. The fact that it’s so late simply means that that opportunity has been lost.”

In the absence of any substantive response from the AG, the Commissioner said he no longer had to consider whether any submissions needed to be taken into consideration.

“That will leave me in this position, that in relation to Assistance Grants, there are matters of law arising, and I will deal with those matters of law the best I can. But, unfortunately, without the assistance of the Attorney General. That, I think, is very unfortunate, but that is the way in which I propose to proceed, given the way in which the matter has been dealt with and responded to by the Attorney,” Sir Gary said.

The government has been consistently criticized for what the COI describes as poor and sometimes disorganised responses to document requests. However, the government has argued that the requests have been overwhelming given it’s limited human resources and COVID-19 constraints being faced.

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28 Comments

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  1. limited Human Resources says:

    they are OVESTAFFED and have plenty of people do do the job, they have chosen not to and to drag this out as much as they can, they are only doing themselves harm, this one will sink them, this is the one the fishers and farmers grant this is the one to topple them…

    Like 58
    Dislike 2
    • Newday says:

      They are doing the BVI harm. More evidence that the Gov of the VI needs to be dismantled and that the UK should install whatever measures required to protect the good governance of their territory and its people.

      Like 35
      Dislike 5
    • COI says:

      The COI has clearly shown poor and bad governance since the start of local governance. The question now will be what the result is. It’s clear that the present government will be abolished and there will be indictments of past and present ministers along with a well known consultant. The real question will be how long the Governor will be totally in charge before elections are once again permitted. It’s clear that any prior minister should not be allowed to run for office again and that Belongership needs to be abolished. No longer can a very small group determine the fate of so many. It’s racist and only exists where there is a predominant black rule. Enough is enough. Well done Sir Gary and Mr Rawat. This Territory owes you its sincere gratitude for your service to the Territory.

      Like 25
      Dislike 1
      • @COI says:

        I agree with everything you say except for abolishing Belongership. The policies/laws should be made clear and maybe the term ‘belonger’ should not be used but the status should NOT be abolished! The BVI is a small place and needs to be protected, nothing is wrong with that. If you want to become a resident, live here for 15yr straight and contribute. If you want to be a Belonger, live here for 20yrs and contribute. Nothing is wrong with that. Look at USVI as an example of what we do NOT want to become, why do you think those places are in that condition? Cut the emotional BS, we need to improve our processes, governance etc. but the local status should not be tampered with.

        Like 12
        Dislike 1
    • Futile Effort says:

      IMO, they are trying to frustrate the effort of the COI by using these delay tactics. It will not work.

      Like 15
      Dislike 1
    • Public officer says:

      We the public officers in the BVI are tired of being lied on. This has to stop! The COI is sending request for plenty information today and want it by tomorrow morning which is IMPOSSIBLE!!! Then they release these twisted stories to put the public officers in a bad light. THIS IS WRONG!!!

      Like 3
      Dislike 9
      • Public officer says:

        he have a right because yall don’t be doing a damn thing in the government office..95% of the time ayo hardly at work so if he giving ayo work to do now kudos..all when people were home during pandemic not working government workers too wasn’t working but was being paid…shut up and assist the COI.

        Like 8
        Dislike 1
        • Ball boy says:

          The majority of public officers are at the sports club having lunch, not at work.

          Can’t move for ill-gotten alfredos.

      • If that is the case, says:

        the solution is simple: communicate with the commission and request more time to fulfill their request. I am certain the commission will understand.

        Not responding or delaying your response without explanation is where the problem allegedly is.

        Its simple really. Respond to their email request and request additional time.

        I can however understand that coordinating all the requested documents can be time consuming but you should let the commission know this. Going ghost is not helpful.

  2. Remember remember says:

    The Commissioner is always right, and is not prepared to even consider that he might not be right.

    Like 6
    Dislike 39
    • @Remember says:

      Do you think it’s professional to ignore a formal email of this nature for 2 weeks? If they had staffing or other issues don’t you think a request for extension or advising of the situation would’ve sufficed? This is why the BVI is in the state it is in, we accept mediocrity and only complain when it affects us or our pockets directly.

      Like 72
      Dislike 1
    • Hreasy says:

      Since you accept that the Commisioner is always right, why would he need to consider that he is not right? That makes no sense.

      Like 3
      Dislike 1
  3. TurtleDove says:

    The public have seen enough to appreciate the COI. In fact some of us are downright disgusted with the ineptness and disdain for the people of the BVI.

    Government after Government, wasteful spending, not following the law, rules and norms, Padding friends pockets. Simple things like filing a piece of paper they cant do. If you cant file a simple piece of paper for conflict of interest it is understood that you don’t care, no sure how being disrespectful is going to help. You all did not have to be perfect but this is shameful.

    Like 47
    Dislike 1
  4. hmm too says:

    How Government loves to burrow their unscrupulous conduct on the Covid-19 and the so stated overload of work.

    We the people know better.

    Like 31
  5. PT9 says:

    Sir Gary Hickinbottom, You are doing a great job for the people of the British Virgin Islands thank you, they don’t want to deal with the submissions because they don’t want the COI to see them.
    You said that In the absence of any substantive response from the AG, the Commissioner said he no longer had to consider whether any submissions needed to be taken into consideration I believe that is the only step you can take right now, please move on with your Inquiry the people need to know and give the UK everything you have so they can step in for about two years and clean up this place. We are going to the dogs with the kind of leadership we had and have.

    Like 56
    Dislike 2
  6. SMH says:

    Why cant they see the every time the do nonsense like this, it is making it obvious to the world that they are inept ?

    Act as though you being helpful oh gosh goodness

    Like 37
  7. Extention says:

    At least they could have asked then Commissioner for an extension. Gosh!! just don’t let the email go unanswered

    Like 31
  8. Newday says:

    They are doing the BVI harm. More evidence that the Gov of the VI needs to be dismantled and that the UK should install whatever measures required to protect the good governance of their territory and its people.

    Like 18
    Dislike 1
  9. Vg says:

    People see What is going on and VW has the audacity to talk about cost. Beside doing his work, he is concentrating in victimizing People. I have a big X for you in the next election. Just X you out.

    Like 11
  10. Hmmmmm says:

    These are the same honorables who go on facebook talking about people not having respect for them when they don’t even have respect for themselves or any other authority.

    Like 21
  11. robocop says:

    I don’t believe this attorney representing the AG is admitted to the BVI bar. Will the speaker be making a complaint?

    Like 7
    Dislike 1
  12. smh says:

    Lord ayo take it easy on em they not accustomed of doing no actual work yuh gah give them some time to get used to it.

    Like 10
  13. YOUTH says:

    This man is not telling the truth.

  14. W.E Man, says:

    4,000 plus civil servants can’t keep up with document submissions from a team from the UK of less than ten people on the C.O.I, just shows what a delinquent, lazy, and incompetent territory the B.V.I has been allowed to degenerate too.

  15. SO , says:

    YOU HIDING MY BLOGG AGAIN ?( YOU ARE ONE OF THEM )

  16. labor department says:

    Ask labour department.

    when will coi. look into labor department and permits. only the large get through and the small business suffer. ask the lady with the gla**es lol

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