BVI News

Motion to reprimand governor delayed by a legal review of the matter

By Kamal Haynes, BVI News Staff

Uncertainty surrounding the legality of the recent motion brought to the House of Assembly (HOA) to reprimand Governor Augustus Jaspert for his reported violation of the Audit Act saw Wednesday’s session of the House coming to a premature end during the debate process.

The proceedings, which lasted a little more than three hours, was called into an early recess till Friday to allow Attorney General Baba Aziz to bring a legal opinion on the matter before continuing with the motion.

The request came from Premier Andrew Fahie who had many questions on whether the motion, which he described as unprecedented, would be supported by the Virgin Islands Constitution, and if so, to what extent.

“I would like to know with the legal opinion, what the constitution and the law would have to say if this motion is agreed to and passed in the House of Assembly, and likewise what will be our action if it doesn’t,” he said.

“The motion speaks about reprimanding the governor … If the motion should pass, what form does the reprimand take? Is it a letter, is it sent only to His Excellency or must we also copy the Minister for the Overseas Territories? Do we copy the honourable Prime Minister of the UK or should we also notify Her Majesty?” Premier Fahie added.

Fahie said those answers are needed to those and other related questions before continuing the process for the motion, as he does not want the HOA to be engaged in anything that amounts to an act of futility, or which brings embarrassment to the House.

Motion evidences the need for constitutional review

The Premier also said that the motion lends support to what he termed as “the larger picture”, which is the need for a constitutional review in the British Virgin Islands.

Fahie said believes that under the current constitution, there are too many areas of ambiguity which are in need of being updated to bring clarity on a number of matters.

“The question is even if we go with the motion, what are the consequences? Is it stated in the Constitution? Should it be stated in the Constitution? If the ministers do not perform what are the consequences,” he asked.

He further questioned, “If the audited financial reports have not been here for over 10 years, we know that that is a violation of the House. But what are the consequences? We know of the repercussions that the country suffers, but what are the consequences for those, whether public offices, whether the Public Accounts Committee, whether the backbenchers, and even the Governor?”

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Julian Willock said he has sought independent counsel on the aforementioned motion, which will be brought to the House when it resumes on Friday. These will be examined in addition to that of the Attorney General.

Origin of the motion

The motion in question was brought to the House by senior Opposition legislator Julian Fraser who said the governor violated Section 20(2) of the Audit Act when he neglected to deliver the Auditor General’s special report about the BVI Airways within the legally-prescribed timeframe.

The Virgin Islands Audit Act of 2003, states that “the governor shall, within three months of the receipt of the special report, cause the report to be laid before the Legislative Council (the House of Assembly).

Governor Jaspert is said to have received the special report on January 27 this year. However, it was only brought to the House on May 28, which was more than a month past the legal deadline.  

Copyright 2020 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

26 Comments

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  1. Jokes says:

    The Territory is wallowing in troubles and this is what our leaders focus their energy on?
    Ridiculous!

    Like 53
    Dislike 3
    • AG our of his depth says:

      Did you hear the AG floundering when he was asked for his opinion. Completely and utterly hopeless and out of his depth. The sooner Ms Smith takes over the better.

      Like 5
      Dislike 11
      • Tea Leaves says:

        More importantly, what did the report say? Why hasn’t it been published or was it?

        • Resolution to censure the Governor says:

          We adopted a resolution of my family to censure the Governor at breakfast this morning.
          We also adopted a resolution to censure the Chinese Government for the Covid 19 pandemic.
          We further adopted a resolution censuring RTW for being too expensive.
          Finally, we adopted a resolution to censure the AG for his performance in office generally, and his failure to advise the Governor that he should not interfere in the workings of the House of Assembly and that the Governor should have laid the report in time.
          Notwithstanding that we validly adopted all four resolutions, nobody seems to care – RTW has not dropped its prices – and the Governor, Chinese Government and the AG have not resigned.
          I suspect that any resolution adopted by the HoA censuring the Governor will have no more relevance or effect than our resolutions.

          Like 10
      • Better says:

        Ms Smith is irrelevant. The sooner the Governor takes over the better.

      • Mike says:

        You and I must have read a different article. No where was it mentioned that the AG was floundering. The Premier asked for an opinion and the AG has to prepare it that’s all. Its so unfortunate that after many years of distinguished service to the Attorney General Chambers persons like you are so willing to discredit Mr Aziz for no good reason. If you ask most legal professionals on island about his reputation they would not hesitate to credit him as being a brilliant legal luminary who has served this jurisdiction without fear of favour. Get your facts straight before you post nonsense like this.

    • Need says:

      They really need to reprimand themselves. They worry about a late report. How about they worry about all the money they stealing.

    • true says:

      Exactly! Really, what is the point of all this childish assishness. I suppose another way to point a nasty finger at NDP. WHO cares, NDP is over and gone. Please focus on our troubles at hand and let sleeping dogs lie. VIP it is NOT your problem what NDP did or didn’t do. Your problem is current and before you. DEAL with it and stop the nonsense. Or else people will be saying the SAME thing about VIP next! So what if Gov. was a few days over time with the report? How many time have you all been late with something? You have the report now and dealing with it, what difference do a few days make? Gov. has been here a few years now so he has earned the right to say he is on Island Time!

  2. Avalon says:

    The time is coming, the clock is just there ticking, talking piddle whilst the UN New World Order has its big plan for us all, the new world economic paradigm gonna turn everything here upside down…

    Like 35
    Dislike 6
  3. Shorty says:

    If the Attorney General is part of the HOA why is the speaker seeking INDEPENDENT Counsel on this matter in addition to the AG findings??? Strups guess spending money frivolously is the part of the new regular without care or concern or importance. Pure nonsene.

    Like 38
    Dislike 1
    • I love it! says:

      This is deliberate spending. This is how these guys operate. Kick back time! Rape the treasury while the people are totally asleep.

      Like 29
      Dislike 1
      • Nobody is happy with the AG opinion says:

        The AG does not know what to say.
        The speaker wants an opinion from the Trini that acted for him in the abortive proceedings with Mark Vanterpool – but that lawyer is probably too busy defending himself against the criminal charges bought against him by the Trini AG.
        What a farce – why doesn’t somebody ask Farara or Ms Smith?

        Like 9
        Dislike 1
    • Here is why says:

      Because the Governor and the AG seem to be having a special relationship. That is why Dawn Smith’s appointment is being delayed indefinitely.

  4. Distraction says:

    Is all this a distraction from the fact that the lady died of covid after being sent away from the hospital twice?

    Like 25
    Dislike 3
    • @Distraction says:

      Yes. Why was she turned away. The great medical minds of the BVI didn’t want to deal with her. It’s also a distraction from the monies stolen from the SSB. This will make the $7mil BVI Airways scandal seem like chump change.

      Like 27
      Dislike 1
  5. Diaspora says:

    The last constitutional review is as hosed up as Hogan’s goat. VI internally self-governing, that is way over stated, for the Crown has the “juice.” Lets see what the Crown controls (internally), ie, internal security, RVIPF, judiciary, jail(1/2 half) and civil service; externally, it is responsible for defence and external affairs. Local government responsible for the rest, including finance. However, though the VI controls finance, the UK stills has handcuffs on expenditures.

    Under the Reserved Powers, the Crown can appropriate funding for whatever function it wants. For example, the previous Crown rep didn’t like the government’s allocation in the budget for the RVIPF so he in deference for the Premier Smith appropriated additionally funding for RVIPF and there was nothing that the government could do. The person(s) who negotiated the new constitution that came into effect in 2007 needs a cut a..s. Indeed, a constitutional review is needed urgently.

    OK. Let’s look at this proposed reprimand of Guv Jaspert that has been circulating around for over a week. Should not the legality have been determined before consuming all this precious time debating it? Should not the unimpressive current AG be able to have given an opinion on this previously if not yesterday? Here is a news flash from a non-lawyer. The HOA can vote to reprimand the Guv but it is non-binding.

    The HOA cannot take any action to enforce. Her Majesty the Queen, PM Boris Johnson, FCO……etc can be notified but the motion will be filed in File 13, AKA the thrash can. It is a documented symbolic gesture but may be a symptom of incipient issues. Again, it will be a bold move by the Premier to vote on reprimand but discretion is the better part of valor. He needs not expend a silver bullet on this. By seeking the legality, he is looking for an escape hatch.

    Like 17
  6. Irma reparis says:

    when are we going to rebuild the BVI Premier Fahie? Why waste time playing these games?

    Like 34
    Dislike 1
  7. It’s a shame! says:

    This is what big men and women are engaging in at the time when the country is on its knees. Two whole days wasted on this foolishness and no one got up and called for an end to the nonsensical motion. This is a collaborated effort I am sure. Hon. Fraser got out what he wanted in the resolution and Hon. Premier now pretends to be stopping it. The damage is already done at this point and Gus gets pie on his face. Seriously? Big hard back people? These are the games that these grown people play with people’s lives while the regular person is wondering how they will keep food on their tables.
    The Governor is the Queen’s representative. That’s why the Queen’s picture is in the HOA and these House members are up there reprimanding the Queen. What did they expect to come out of this? Tell me?

    Like 24
    Dislike 2
    • Oh man says:

      It is like biting the hands that feed. Keep messing with the Governor. One day, the UK is going to turn it’s back on the BVI. The ones that will get the backlash and pay for all of this is the poor and helpless.

      Like 14
      Dislike 2
  8. Frazier waste of time says:

    This is just sending out a message to the world that bvi is not ready to self govern away from UK.
    In the grand scheme of things and what with everything going on….I just thank god Frazer and co never made it to leader.

    Like 19
    Dislike 2
    • Time says:

      For Fraser to retire but, it seems like the people in Sea Cows Bay is afraid to vote him out of office. Time for a new District Rep from Sea Cows Bay and I am not talking about the young kid that was running with the NDP crew.

  9. A waste of time! says:

    You will think this government would be spending their time figuring out how to get the economy up and running again after it was effectively shut down for months now with little revenues coming in.

    Reprimanding the governor is of no consequence other than useless political theater. It is wasting resources, and will not help the economy one bit.

    All it will serves is to gin up bad blood between the governor and local government and feed the inflated egos of those filing and supporting this useless motion.

    Like 31
  10. Ms.Corona says:

    So how much will this INDEPENDENT COUNSEL cost tax payers again.? I look forward for when our new (AG) is sworn in and something comes up that needs some clarity, what will the speaker of the (HoA)do.

    Like 10
  11. Tango says:

    If my memory serve me right , I think it was the Speaker of the (HoA) who first brought the Gov… doing to the public attention and then Mr. Frazer ran with it, etc etc.

  12. Media Luvers says:

    Media wh….s love all kind of press either negative or positive. He/she feels like a fish out of water and gets high on being in the press. The Guv is loving it. The Guv know the HOA lacked the ability to reprimand him and the UK is not going to entertain the least complain from an OT so he is probably having a jolly laugh at the bloaks, pinky extended, sipping a cup of tea.

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