Concerns raised about public confidence in COIs

The Government Attorney, the Right Honorable Sir Geoffrey Cox (left) and the Investigating Commissioner, the Right Honorable Sir Gary Hickinbottom.

Sir Geoffrey Cox, QC – the lawyer representing the BVI government on the current Commission of Inquiry (COI) – expressed concern over what he described as a perceived lack of trust in the IOC by some members of the public.

Speaking to the Commission recently, Sir Geoffrey said what is really important is “the confidence of the local public in the fairness, balance and independence of the investigation”.

Sir Geoffrey added that transparency was also an essential part of the investigation; not only for those who are directly affected, but also for those who might be affected emotionally.

“Don’t underestimate this. Because there is a civil service here that feels like it is being inspected, it is scrutinized – not only the civil service but other areas, ”Sir Geoffrey told the IOC.

Continuing on his point, Sir Geoffrey said that if the IOC were to “allow them (officials) to understand something about how they can be heard” in the investigation, it would likely raise its level of public opinion. trust.

The lawyer also raised concerns about perceptions in some quarters that the IOC is located in the BVI in a manner “almost like the descent from above of a group examining them in all aspects without understanding. fully the situation on the territory “.

He further pointed out that the IOC staff, server and offices are all located in a foreign jurisdiction. In addition, the Foreign Office, which is the joint controller for processing information from the IOC, is domiciled in the United Kingdom.

“This is not an attack… I am sorry, but these are realities to which your Inquiry must be sensitive,” Sir Geoffrey told the IOC.

The lawyer added that the issues had all been brought to his attention. “And I think it’s important that you understand that in some parts of this island community these things are noted,” he added to insist.

The executive has concerns, but the commissioner also has concerns

Meanwhile, the sole commissioner presiding over the investigation, Sir Gary Hickinbottom, countered the attorney’s statement and insisted that people in the territory have real concerns about the security of the information they would like to submit to the IOC because they fear discrimination, perhaps at the level.

Sir Gary said that is why it was insisted that the database held was “absolutely secure, and that any information provided to us is absolutely secure and untraceable until its source or the donor. information wishes it to be so because otherwise these people would not come forward.

“And, therefore, while the executive may have concerns, I have concerns for the public interest, and the public interest goes beyond the executive. [arm of government]”said Sir Gary.

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