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HoA Speaker calls on UK Foreign Secretary to investigate Hickinbottom

- said in letter to Dominic R. Raab that CoI Commissioner Gary R. Hickinbottom has displayed dishonest, bullish & sexist behaviour to witnesses
Speaker of the House of Assembly (HoA) Honourable Julian Willock, centre, has written to the United Kingdom (UK) Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs and First Secretary of State, Dominic R. Raab, left, calling for an investigation into the conduct of the lone Commissioner of the Inquiry into governance in the Virgin Islands, Sir Gary R. Hickinbottom, right. Photo: Internet Source/VINO/File
While raising her concerns about the Commission of Inquiry on June 1, 2021, Complaints Commissioner, Mrs Erica R. Smith-Penn was often interrupted with ‘cross talking’ in an attempt to shut her up by both the Commissioner Sir Gary R. Hicknbottom and CoI Counsel Mr Bilal Rawat. Photo: CoI/Youtube
While raising her concerns about the Commission of Inquiry on June 1, 2021, Complaints Commissioner, Mrs Erica R. Smith-Penn was often interrupted with ‘cross talking’ in an attempt to shut her up by both the Commissioner Sir Gary R. Hicknbottom and CoI Counsel Mr Bilal Rawat. Photo: CoI/Youtube
A local online news site reports that Commissioner Gary R. Hickinbottom had rejected Hon Julian Willock's claims of vindication, even while denying him an opportunity to present new evidence. Photo: VINO
A local online news site reports that Commissioner Gary R. Hickinbottom had rejected Hon Julian Willock's claims of vindication, even while denying him an opportunity to present new evidence. Photo: VINO
Commissioner Gary R. Hickinbottom allegedly violated parliamentary sovereignty, norms, traditions, convention and the rule of law by asking Honourable members to appear before him on days of HoA sittings despite being told about the schedule of sittings. Photo: HoA/File
Commissioner Gary R. Hickinbottom allegedly violated parliamentary sovereignty, norms, traditions, convention and the rule of law by asking Honourable members to appear before him on days of HoA sittings despite being told about the schedule of sittings. Photo: HoA/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- Speaker of the House of Assembly (HoA) Honourable Julian Willock has written to the United Kingdom (UK) Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs and First Secretary of State, Dominic R. Raab, calling for an investigation into the conduct of the lone Commissioner of the Inquiry into governance in the Virgin Islands, Sir Gary R. Hickinbottom.

In the letter dated July 8, 2021, and seen by our newsroom, Honourable Willock said he was penning the letter to bring to Mr Raab’s attention “some serious concerns about the operations of the CoI under Hickinbottom.

Among the complaints by Speaker Willock was the Commissioner’s alleged refusal to allow the Speaker to present new evidence showing that he was not in violation of the Register of Interests Act.

“However, despite this newly provided evidence and a denied opportunity to appear before the commission for a second time, on July 1, 2021,  Mr Hickinbottom still announced that I was in breach of the Act. This speaks volumes about the integrity of the process and the integrity and honesty of the Commissioner,” Hon Willock stated, adding that he had enclosed his new evidence for Mr Raab’s perusal and asked that this matter be investigated to clear his name, along with an investigation of several other issues surrounding Mr Hickinbottom.

This included the issue of the Speaker’s lawyer being given a bundle with missing documents and when it was raised with the Commissioner he had said: “Some mistakes are more important than others.”

Alleged bullying by CoI Commissioner

Honourable Willock also related that when he appeared before Mr Hickinbottom on June 18, 2021, the Commissioner’s approach towards him as the Head of the Legislative Branch “was extremely condescending and tantamount to bullying.”

He added that as the visitor in this territory and in his role as Commissioner, Mr Hickinbottom has displayed an attitude of patronising superiority over Elected Members of the House of Assembly and others who came before his commission.

“He has shown a general disregard for the Legislature and elected members of the HoA by calling them to appear as witnesses and to testify on days when we had scheduled HoA Sittings, notwithstanding, some of the elected Members still volunteered to attend in their willingness to cooperate with the CoI.”

‘Blatant disregard’ for HoA

The Speaker argued that in the United Kingdom, parliamentary privilege is absolute and that in the Commonwealth Parliamentary System, of which the Virgin Islands (VI) is a part of, if a commission of inquiry is sufficiently like a court in its powers, “just like you in the House of Commons, we should assert privilege,” adding that Erskine May considers his point in ‘Court or place out of Parliament.

He said in practice, the House of Commons has successfully argued that a commission of inquiry established under the Inquiries Act 2005 is a “court or other place” for the purposes of Article IX, and the inquiry chairs in question did not dispute the point.

“Mr Hickinbottom has shown a blatant disregard for this and our HoA. Many persons have also complained about his bullying tactics/approach to how witnesses are treated when appearing before the Commission.”

Allegations of sexism

Hon Willock said an example of Hickinbottom’s bullying tactics was the treatment against the Complaints Commissioner Mrs Erica R. Smith-Penn.

“She was almost run out of the room and denied an opportunity to raise concerns about the commission’s independence on the behalf of the people of the VI. Mr Hickinbottom interrupted her at every turn with ‘cross talking’ against the very rules of the CoI hearings in which he presides over. Many have since labelled his attitude towards Mrs Smith-Penn to be sexist.”

Mr Willock also alleged Hickinbottom’s treatment of a Sara Jane-Knoch of Withers on June 8, 2021, was also an example of his alleged lack of respect for women.

‘Investigate Hickinbottom!’

“I, therefore, call on you to investigate his behaviour as it relates to the treatment of Members of the HoA when we had sittings, and when they appeared before him.”

Hon Willock further questioned the integrity of the Commissioner.

“There are also questions raised by witnesses and in the public domain, that if this is truly an independent CoI, why did Mr Hickinbottom arrive in the VI on the same flight with the ex-Governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert and why has the Commissioner allegedly been seen meeting with the current Governor Mr John J. Rankin CMG?”

Mr Willock told Mr Raab he was “humbly and politely” requesting that a number of concerns are addressed via an investigation.

He said this included Hickinbottom’s alleged dishonesty in regards to whether the Speaker is in breach of the Register of Interests Act; why items were left out of his Attorney (Silk Legal) bundle on the day he appeared before the CoI; Hickinbottom’s alleged disrespect and disregard for the House of Assembly and his bullying treatment of the House Members and other witnesses; and to investigate if he has displayed sexist behaviour against the Complaints Commissioner Erica R. Smith-Penn and other witnesses.

The Speaker also requested Mr Raab to provide him with evidence that the VI truly has an independent CoI “with an explanation about why the former and current Governors had meetings with the Commissioner and that this is not a conclusion already written.”

24 Responses to “HoA Speaker calls on UK Foreign Secretary to investigate Hickinbottom”

  • Ya awl (13/07/2021, 13:01) Like (37) Dislike (3) Reply
    I think he would complain about anyone heading a COI. Not even an elected official. Let’s see the COI report, we people will follow the criminal hearings diligently.
  • ... (13/07/2021, 13:35) Like (8) Dislike (10) Reply
    SEXIST IS JOKE LOOK RACIST TO ME!
  • Dumb blonde (13/07/2021, 13:39) Like (13) Dislike (2) Reply
    We are equals . We are equals!!
    • Strupes (13/07/2021, 14:49) Like (33) Dislike (3) Reply
      He is smart enough to see the writing on the wall....and doing all he can to hold on.... The Pole he is holding on to is getting slipprier and slipprier by the day....
      • YES SIR (13/07/2021, 19:49) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
        And that my friend is the bulls eye. You've hit the head on the nail.
      • Rubber Duck (13/07/2021, 20:22) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
        To Strupes. If you saw the lawyers briefing section on the COI today you will have heard that they are now talking about “ ctitisism “. In everyday language this is accusations and allegations. Now they are going to start asking where the money went, who got it, you know it was illegal etc etc.

        And they were also talking about the procedure for criminal proceedings.
  • scat (13/07/2021, 13:45) Like (23) Dislike (0) Reply
    If it looks like a duck
    • scat (13/07/2021, 18:20) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply
      My comments were. If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck. Then it’s a duck!
  • Rubber Duck (13/07/2021, 14:01) Like (21) Dislike (2) Reply
    I am certain that Mr Raab will give the letter the time and attention it deserves.
    • @ rubber duck (13/07/2021, 16:13) Like (3) Dislike (15) Reply
      You racist go to the other sites
      • Rubber Duck (13/07/2021, 17:36) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply
        Whenever you have no answer , you resort to racism. Point out a single racist post the real me has ever made.

        Or stfu.
  • foxy (13/07/2021, 14:12) Like (11) Dislike (65) Reply
    the man willock is a boss mehson
  • You are holding the blade of the sword. He has the handle, HoA Speaker. (13/07/2021, 14:38) Like (45) Dislike (0) Reply
    Yes, you his equal as a human, but his authority on CoI matters will triumph over yours. Humble yuorself, and cooporate with the probe. Ptesently the high number of positive covid-19 cases is our main concern, not Hickimbottom.



  • bvi (13/07/2021, 14:43) Like (38) Dislike (0) Reply
    All of this is just smoke screen coi you came here to do and job just finished up ur job, let the bvi people here what and where all those bvi ministers do with the tax payers money.
  • Truth (13/07/2021, 15:08) Like (35) Dislike (2) Reply
    All he doing is adding fire to fury.
    • @ truth (13/07/2021, 16:36) Like (4) Dislike (37) Reply
      Strong letter with facts I support mr Willock right is on your side
    • Fam (13/07/2021, 21:47) Like (2) Dislike (12) Reply
      I thank God everyday for Julian Willock the only man fighting for the country
  • This again (13/07/2021, 15:20) Like (53) Dislike (4) Reply
    The guilty ones protest the loudest
  • Buckingham (13/07/2021, 15:33) Like (14) Dislike (1) Reply
    you dont take penknife to a machine-gun fight playing right into the hands of the united kingdom all what going on now, the commission of inquiry was in the pipeline for years:
  • bay (13/07/2021, 16:37) Like (4) Dislike (35) Reply
    The vip and ndp need to stop their cooperating with this racist mob called coi
  • Xxx (13/07/2021, 18:15) Like (5) Dislike (16) Reply
    I with my sea cows bay youth willock
  • Hickinbottom OUT (14/07/2021, 06:34) Like (1) Dislike (2) Reply

    Get this FOOL off the island, trying to hide the truth, don't let this man come down there and bully y'all, they don't care about
    y'all in no way at all, be careful who yo trying to silence, the UK is trying to take over Tortola and plenty of our so called black people
    are SELL OUTS, and the w*** man can't stand yo black Azzes, but u sucking up to him, idiot fools.

  • Billy Kimba (14/07/2021, 13:32) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    No disrespect to THe Speaker of the House but lol to ask a blanco to investigate his blanco counterpart is ridiculous lol. Especially due to the fact you look like midnight which is powerful I may add.


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