BVI News

Gov’t attorney in COI flayed over data sharing accusation

Government-hired attorney Hussein Haeri has come under considerable criticism for suggesting data is routinely shared between the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (COI) and the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).

Haeri was at the time arguing the point of who would have access to any cabinet recordings that would be submitted to the COI at the request of its lone Commissioner, Sir Gary Hickinbottom.

“The FCDO is a Data Controller — a joint Data Controller of all information that is given to your Commission of Inquiry team. So, it is not, I would respectfully submit, the case that these recordings would only go to you [Sir Gary]. They would also go to the FCDO, they would also go to the Commission of Inquiry team.”

At the time, Sir Gary took the suggestion to mean that the COI was not independent and called Haeri’s assertion “complete nonsense”.

Information came from COI website

In his defence, Haeri said while he was not impugning the independence of the COI, the information he used for his argument was derived from the COI’s very own website, and that he stood to be corrected if this was not the case. 

He also apologised for the way the statement was perceived.

Attorney for the COI, Bilal Rawat, who called the statement a “serious allegation”, quickly stated that the information Haeri referenced was outdated and has since been updated on the website.

Rawat said: “It’s not about joint Data Controller. What your allegation is about, is whether the Commission of Inquiry is routinely sharing its information with the FCDO.“

Political statements from counsel unhelpful

Meanwhile, Sir Gary said the hearings were not designed for what he felt were political statements coming from some attorneys. He further described those statements as ‘unhelpful’ and suggested attorneys stick to the matter at hand. 

“Such statements do not help me and, indeed, they are positively unhelpful to the process that I am conducting,” Sir Gary said.

“Mr Haeri’s suggestion, during the course of his submissions, that the whole independent process which I’m engaged in is undermined because the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office that might have access to documents, including the recordings, he said — if they were to be disclosed; to which only I and my team, in fact, have access — was, in my view, an irresponsible suggestion, and certainly an unfounded one.”

Sir Gary, meanwhile, said he accepted Haeri’s apology, but did not wish to have any repetition from him or any other counsel for any participant.

And in a subsequent statement issued Thursday, the Commission said the COI is “the sole data controller of the data it collects and holds”.

It further said the FCDO’s role “is restricted to providing IT infrastructure (with its sub-processors) to the COI.  That has been the case since the COI was established.  The FCDO’s role throughout has thus been as a data processor”.

The Commission of Inquiry (“the COI”) was issued on 19 January 2021 to look into whether corruption, abuse of office or other serious dishonesty may have taken place amongst public, elected and statutory officials in recent years; and to make appropriate recommendations as to governance and the operation of the law enforcement and justice systems in the BVI.  The Rt Hon Sir Gary Hickinbottom is the sole Commissioner.

Also 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.

23 Comments

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  1. @ shaft says:

    chess / cat and mouse/ stalling ? 🤔

  2. Thin skin says:

    The Commissioner, and his Counsel, were indignant and cross for no good reason. The Govt lawyer relied on what was stated on the CoI website – namely that the Foreign Office was a data controller of CoI electronic files.
    The CoI said that the position had been corrected but failed to apologise for misleading everybody.

    The Commissioner is very prickly, and has demonstrated an ability to try to rewrite history with press releases.

    The behaviour of the Commissioner and his Counsel was very poor yesterday, and the Govt lawyer was unfairly criticised for merely repeating what was on the CoI website.

    The Commissioner seems to be very thin skinned.

    He is demonstrating the traits of refusing to accept and deal with a new environment …

    Like 13
    Dislike 25
    • @Thin skin says:

      Or it may be evidence of coming to the CoI with a closed mind or a mind already decided. 3 years is the parameters set because the recommendation is for direct rule. Give all of us a break here. If the intelligence community wasn’t behind this I would be very surprised.

      Like 6
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    • 007 says:

      They were indignant when Haeri more or less accused them of leaking stuff.

      Like 5
      Dislike 5
    • Tranp says:

      What kind of lawyer refers to out of date information in an enquiry? If the government must have us pay for their lawyer the least they can do is get one that pays attention.

      Like 8
      Dislike 2
    • Jus askin says:

      Flayed?

  3. Jim says:

    Gary did not come to play. The Govt attorney comes off as very childish and not on the QC level at all.

    Like 27
    Dislike 5
  4. BVI Future says:

    The government attorney should have prepared himself with updated information. Anyway, the government defense has a capped of 5 million dollars.

    Like 6
    Dislike 7
  5. LILLIAN says:

    THE COI NEEDS ALSE TO INVESTIGATE THE FALSE WEBSITES THIS LOCALS PEOPLE HAS BEEN USING TO AVOID PEOPLE COMPLAIN TO un. AND THE UK FROM A LOT OF CORRUPTIONS IN THIS PLACE AND ABUSE OF FOREING EXPAT HOW THEY CALL VISITORS OR EMPLOYEES.

  6. Rubber Duck says:

    Eloquent as Mr Haeri was, he was in effect flogging a dead horse. There was no way he could make a differentiation between the minutes and the recordings. And his assertion that the recordings were more accurate just dug him deeper.

    Evidently some ministers don’t wish their church going voters to know how much they cuss. Or is there more to it .?

    Like 13
    Dislike 17
  7. Black wall street massacre says:

    Maybe it’s more mortar in this pestle

    Like 2
    Dislike 1
  8. COLD SWEAT says:

    THE POT YOU COOKING AINT GOT NO FLAVOUR SO YOU CAN FEED YOUR CANARIES WITH THAT MESS , NOT EVEN PIGS CAN DIGEST IT

  9. FACTS says:

    The COI is not independent. It is a setup.

    Like 2
    Dislike 8
  10. My take says:

    Until the last governor and last Commissioner of police is part of this COI then I don’t want to hear anything from this bias COI.

    Like 2
    Dislike 9
  11. 5 Million Corruption says:

    Hope the COI and Britain take a serious look at this bullying do as they wish Govt taking 5 million of tax payers money to defend themselves…Cant get more ignorant and irresponsble than this..

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