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AG blasts biased CoI for blatantly misleading VI public

- Commission also allegedly disclosed confidential Cabinet minutes without permission
The Attorney General (AG) of the Virgin Islands (VI) House of Assembly, Hon Dawn J. Smith, left, has blasted the UK-sponsored Virgin Islands Commission of Inquiry for what she called a ‘misleading and damaging impression’ portrait by the CoI team against the Government and a sitting Minister. Right is CoI Commissioner Gar R. Hickinbottom. Photo: VINO/File
The Attorney General in a September 30, 2021, letter to Commissioner Sir Gary R. Hickinbottom specifically addressed the handling of the hearing conducted on September 28, 2021, where Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Hon Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) was questioned on the granting of Belongership status. Photo: CoI/Youtube
The Attorney General in a September 30, 2021, letter to Commissioner Sir Gary R. Hickinbottom specifically addressed the handling of the hearing conducted on September 28, 2021, where Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Hon Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) was questioned on the granting of Belongership status. Photo: CoI/Youtube
This was not the first time the CoI has been accused of referencing documents not given to witnesses in advance. House of Assembly Speaker Hon Julian Willock, when he appeared before the CoI as a witness on June 18, 2021, raised concerns over documents being omitted from his lawyer's bundle, to which the Commissioner downplayed the issue, indicating that the missing documents were 'not important.' Photo: Facebook/File
This was not the first time the CoI has been accused of referencing documents not given to witnesses in advance. House of Assembly Speaker Hon Julian Willock, when he appeared before the CoI as a witness on June 18, 2021, raised concerns over documents being omitted from his lawyer's bundle, to which the Commissioner downplayed the issue, indicating that the missing documents were 'not important.' Photo: Facebook/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI– The Attorney General (AG) of the Virgin Islands (VI), Hon Dawn J. Smith, has blasted the United Kingdom (UK)-sponsored Virgin Islands Commission of Inquiry (CoI) for what she called a ‘misleading and damaging impression’ portrait by the CoI team against the Government and a sitting Minister.

The Attorney General, in a September 30, 2021, letter to Commissioner Sir Gary R. Hickinbottom, specifically addressed the handling of the hearing conducted on September 28, 2021, where Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Hon Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) was questioned on the granting of Belongership status.

CoI created misleading impression - Hon Smith 

According to Hon Smith, the hearing “has, wholly avoidably, created a misleading impression of the true situation relating to certain discussions of the Cabinet about a sensitive Belonger Status application, and which I consider to be damaging to the public interest.”

She said the issues were avoidable since the matter appeared to have been raised in a manner that not only violated the CoI’s own protocols and essential assurances on which confidential government documents are disclosed, but it also prevented the Minister from being able to present the facts on a matter that was bound to be of acute public concern.

She also disclosed that no permission was granted from Cabinet for the Minutes to be made public, in addition to Hon Wheatley having had no advance warning that he would be questioned in relation to the Minutes.

Minister was ambushed by CoI? 

Hon Smith also detailed that the allegedly breached Minutes were not included in the advance bundle, and the minister was not handed a copy of it prior to the hearing. 

“Criticisms were put to the minister in relation to the Minutes without having been included in his Warning Letter. No explanation has been given for why he was not so warned. On 17 September 2021, the COI Team requested a full copy of the Minutes (as the previously disclosed versions had some text cut off). No indication was then given that the Minutes was to be used at a public hearing,” she said.

Hon Smith further revealed that questioning was also unfair, “For example, the Minister was asked: "How is it that you cannot remember if you granted a rapist Belonger status or not?".

Situation was 'unfair in circumstance' to Minister 

“Even allowing for a degree of forensic enthusiasm, this was unfair in the circumstances since the Minister had not been given the opportunity to remind himself of the facts and would obviously not want to provide evidence to the Inquiry that he had not verified, particularly on such a sensitive matter. Furthermore, the tone and manner of the questioning were prosecutorial and accusatory,” Hon Smith revealed.

This was not the first time the CoI has been accused of referencing documents not given to witnesses in advance.

House of Assembly Speaker Hon Julian Willock, when he appeared before the CoI as a witness on June 18, 2021, raised concerns over documents being omitted from his lawyer's bundle, to which the Commissioner downplayed the issue, indicating that the missing documents were 'not important.'

Hon Willock has also already slammed the Commission for allegedly blatantly disregarding the laws of the VI while hypocritically trying to point out perceived flaws in Government.

'Regrettable' that CoI had to be written - Hon Smith 

The Attorney General said she regretted having to write to the Commission in this vein; however, she had recorded her concern at the violation of the Commission’s own protocols and assurances and the potential resulting damage to the public's interest.

Hon Smith further indicated that the manner of questioning implied, incorrectly, that the elected Government had acted irresponsibly regarding the security of the Territory by granting Belonger Status to persons convicted of serious criminal offences.

There continue to be concerns among the public that the CoI has a fixed agenda, that does not bode well for the Virgin Islands as it gears itself for the inevitable path of self-determination.

29 Responses to “AG blasts biased CoI for blatantly misleading VI public”

  • Hmm (30/09/2021, 20:10) Like (106) Dislike (70) Reply
    It was intentional. They doing what they like. Part of the agenda.
  • goat (30/09/2021, 20:21) Like (17) Dislike (10) Reply
    Only now y’all know that? All y’all is part of what is going to take place and think that we the people are stupid!
  • You see (30/09/2021, 20:26) Like (33) Dislike (16) Reply
    COI breaking from standard practice in order to draw public uproar. And see it all coming from his fan base the white expats.
  • jack (30/09/2021, 21:09) Like (41) Dislike (31) Reply
    The coi has long lost its credibility
  • south africa (30/09/2021, 21:13) Like (18) Dislike (17) Reply
    some of us will rather put chains around our fellow black sister and brothers from the west indies

    the same white man some of us imagine to be the saviour and do no wrong(hold on soon come )

    • Not from you Afroman. Go fix your own problems, because you can't fix ours. (30/09/2021, 23:02) Like (6) Dislike (4) Reply
      @ South Africa: It is not you that bored the wrath of black leaders surpression in the British Virgin Islands for more than thirty-plus years, I matter not colour skin people that are helping you in the war against these deceptive moneymongers. What do matter most is that we are being helped by the CoI probing of mismanagement of our finances by greedy politicians, in the British Virgin Islands.
    • Norris Turnbull (02/10/2021, 07:31) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      @south africa ..Most white people never have the interest of black and brown people in their final intentions. The opressor will never teache you to be more brilliant than he/she is. I'll just rest this here.
  • Weve been in darkness too long. (30/09/2021, 21:31) Like (37) Dislike (6) Reply
    Are the COI Lawyers lying? Are they accusing the Minister wrongfully? . . By now they should know the COI aint come to.make friends, they aint come to Joke and play...So when you going before them you should be prepare for war, prepare for anything...I support the COI. Ive made to understand Law abiding grand father with Kids and Grand Kids born here, whos been here around 40yrs and still cant get belongers because someone in immigration has a long term, long time beef with him...This sad, very low, so sad., .The COI bringing light to the darkness they have us living in for many, many years......Thk U COI.
    • Much, much too long (01/10/2021, 05:21) Like (9) Dislike (5) Reply
      We've been in darkness for (much) to long.
      I support your posted message.✓
  • WELL THERE IS (30/09/2021, 21:41) Like (16) Dislike (19) Reply
    MANY WAYS OF GETTING THE TRUTH OUT
    OF A PERSON / AND AM SURE THE PUBLIC GOT A TO SEE HOW SOME PEOPLE REACT TO THEIR QUESTIONS / LIKE BODY LANGUAGE / THEIR VOICE ETC SOME STUTTER / SOME SHAKE ( ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE TRUTH ?
  • Hon. Member (30/09/2021, 22:07) Like (8) Dislike (29) Reply
    Mr. Speaker; That man Hickingbottom and his friend Rawat trying to divide and conquer. My madam AG set he straight.
  • cnn (30/09/2021, 22:41) Like (11) Dislike (14) Reply
    The coi is corupt
  • Liat 521 (30/09/2021, 23:27) Like (11) Dislike (15) Reply
    one thing for sure the COI remains a racist mob trying to take over the bvi
  • Oh Boi (01/10/2021, 00:02) Like (17) Dislike (8) Reply
    Only now you guys realize the COI is biased? It’s an inquiry that only looks for the bad & tries to paint a picture.

    What’s worse is the meddling with the media and the concentrated media campaign and narrative being pushed by popular media site that most foreigners go to as it has an official sounding name.

    It’s sick what’s going on in the BVI and it’s not due to the locals or the expats. All that local vs expat talk is a distraction.

    They worked us up into fighting each other firstly then jaspert called this COI and uses the Luke warm non nationalistic expat community to rage against the local minority along with their paid actors.

    In the end who do you think will win if we keep fighting each other like dogs in a pen while the master who put us here laughs & profits as these big dogs tear each other apart instead of standing together to jump the ring.

    As descendants of the displaced and enslaved we have so much potential when we get back to full health. Africa & Latin America is still healing.

    Progress out of racism and slavery does not end with being allowed to partake in a capitalist free for all.

    We are stronger together. Stronger with family ties & our non European cultural heritage.

    Everyone wants to wear a suit and tie that’s our problem.

    The slave powered system of Babylon promotes holding debt, toxic individualism, a budding housing crisis, introduction of addictive substances into society, propagandized entertainment, the criminalization & scientific stigmatization of naturally occurring shamanic plants, dismiss their thousands of years of human usage.

    Problem is they can be grown at home. Problem was colored people were using them.

    Give them capitalism, keep them poor.

    It’s all economic warfare. Tactics & restrictions to make the people poor while blaming ‘corruption’ for the poverty. Yea corruption alright.

    Then they make us believe in “our tax money” that must be kept out of OUR hands. Psssh.

    Look at Cuba, Venezuela, Lebanon, Syria. Man made disaster zones. The list goes on. People will eventually survive and prosper uncontrollably as technology advances.

    Their scared of the ‘third world’ blowing up in prosperity.

    Collectively we have less missiles and more value. Thats why they can’t stop overseeing (stealing) disadvantaged nations peoples resources.
  • Yes (01/10/2021, 04:53) Like (10) Dislike (4) Reply
    When the government here doing as they like, nobody saying nothing, what is good for the goose, is also good for the gander.
  • Try as you may, but politiians sooner or later too must pay. (01/10/2021, 06:08) Like (10) Dislike (12) Reply
    My people, judge not any base on ethnicity, rather accept the evidences that are presented before us.
    Example, if you were untitled to, let me say, $1,000,000,000.00, as a people, and have employed political leaders to manage your affairs, socially, and academically, invonvomentally, and economically, but have suffered great lost, especially financially, let me say:$500,000,000.00 unaccounted for would it matter the skin colour of that are investigating the causes of the unaccounted moneys?
    This is a mismanagement probing, not a racist CoI

    Note: Black racism is equally as evil as white racism.
    Sadly, the are many black skin racist people living among us in the British Virgin Islands.
    • josiah'sbay (01/10/2021, 11:13) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      It's such a rarity when you can find a true black racist. Black racism is usually a retroactive response to White racism. As a black person when you grow up in a space that is totally dominated by white supremacy culture, their accomplishment and particularly their " How great we art propaganda " that is educationally force down your throat it becomes very hard too see them as inferior and having a natural hatred towards them. On the other hand they not being subjected to the same life find it quite easy to be naturally racist. By natural I mean taught from early and not inherited. Basically Black people have no reason to hate Whites other than responding to their anti blackness.
      • Jane (01/10/2021, 16:52) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        Go into the noodle shop in town and observe how many of the clientele talk to the asian immigrant workers there. Then tell me you can't find a true black racist.
  • Dark Days (01/10/2021, 06:46) Like (29) Dislike (10) Reply
    The coi came to do a job, recolonization of the bvi black peoples, please do not let them get away with it
  • Prepared? (01/10/2021, 07:13) Like (8) Dislike (17) Reply
    On 17 September 2021, the COI Team requested a full copy of the Minutes (as the previously disclosed versions had some text cut off). No indication was then given that the Minutes was to be used at a public hearing,” she said.

    The minutes of the cabinet were requested but the minister failed to review these. Had he reviewed the very minutes that were requested IN ADVANCE he would have been better prepared to answer questions on the matter. The facts are right there but once again govt officials making excuses and looking to blame someone else...
  • priest (01/10/2021, 08:01) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    Anyone who has witnessed or have been part of a trial would understand the tactics that is being used by the Coi. Here is what happens the defence or prosecution would raise a particular issues. They know before hand that raising such issue would be objected too and the sitting Judge would upheld the objection. The defence/prosecution would then withdraw the issue but the intended damage has been done. While it may be erased from the proceedings, it will of course remain in the mind of the jury and the public. By now we know the issue at hand. Had this not happened we would not have known about it. Furthermore, the witness was very poor. Did he know that the particulars of the questions were potentially illegal and refused to answer or even bring it to the attention of the Coi? He was stumbling over himself and making the noise tighter. I could almost hear the pleasure in the voice of the Coi team member who was asking the questions. He seemed delighted as the member sank deeper and deeper into his trap. I am glad the AG has responded to the matter. The Coi has achieved its objection. Now we have a behind the scene view of how Government conduct certain business. Damage done!
  • Had Enough (01/10/2021, 08:11) Like (7) Dislike (4) Reply
    If these Hon. Ministers are suffering from amnesia, then it is time they bow out, the COI is basically confirming what is already documented on the records, however, why this specific setting needs to be handled in a delicate way, why, the people of the BVI should not know the truth. We need better representation and these elected members should make us proud not embarrass us with these foolish unavoidable decisions that they are making, hoping that we don’t find out. We the people are the employers and we are totally under estimated for much too long.
  • asking for a friend (01/10/2021, 08:33) Like (29) Dislike (12) Reply
    When are we going to March on these racist people?
  • @ MISS AG (01/10/2021, 10:44) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    PLEASE DON'T DRINK THAT COOL AID , OR YOU WILL BE SPOILED LIKE THE THAT SOLDIER GAL FROM VG / WHO IS NOW READING FROM THE SCRIPT / LET THE TRUTH BE TOLD ESPECIALLY IF ITS FROM THE PREDATOR' S OWN MOUTH
  • Suzy (01/10/2021, 11:16) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    It is astounding that there are still those amongst us so seeped in their own self righteousness, who think that only the descendants of the slave master oppressors can come here to save the descendants of the oppressed. It was always or call and WE are the only ones to stand up for ourselves.

    The COI came here to find corruption, to justify taking greater controls of financial services and the running our country. This would also assist with global acceptance and justification of the takeover and solidify their Global Britain scheme. They will do whatever it takes, trickery, bamboozling, manipulation, the incitement of expats for status they would never be afforded in the UK. All things they have done in their own country to their own people. So to think that they have come to save us from ourselves because we are loved by the UK and it is the right thing to do.
    We are not all stupid.
  • Interested (01/10/2021, 11:41) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    The attorney general gave you all an inch, and you taking a mile.
    The entire COI is not corrupt. Issues were brought to light that needed to be and corrected.
    Hopefully now, the territory can forge a clearers path ahead that is void of partisan practices and greed
  • 789 (01/10/2021, 14:54) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    now the CoI in play check the record and see the governor and commissioner are usually absent from the territory at the same time
  • Soto (02/10/2021, 18:55) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    You talking bout racist.aint nothing more racist than ur own black caribbean people.they racist to the hispanics, and all others. Let england hurry take over. You reap what u sow. I hope with all that is going on all belongers and bvislanders fight for england. U could imagine u on permit ur boss aint paying ur social security to which he is o ligated and the outsider has to pay the price.


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