Former NDP Ministers, Current Legislators To Face CoI In Live Hearings

Esther Durand, Journalist
June 11, 2021 10:10 am AST
Esther Durand, Journalist | June 11, 2021 10:10 am AST
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(Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News)
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(Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News)

Both former and current Premiers, ministers and members of the House of Assembly, will testify live before the ongoing UK-backed Commission of Inquiry beginning June 14.

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A list of names released by the CoI indicates that those slated to give evidence include former Premier Dr. D. Orlando Smith, the former head of National Democratic Party (NDP) as well as former Minister for Health and Social Development Ronnie Skelton, who broke away from the NDP to form the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM).

According to a release from the CoI, the questions surround “particularly on their held and declared interests.”

“During this first week of hearings, the Commissioner intends to hear witness evidence from elected Ministers and other Members of the House of Assembly, and some former Members," the CoI secretariat noted.

The release also informed that a number of issues have been raised by those representing participants in the CoI, which require resolution before the witness evidence can proceed, and in particular before the final order of witnesses can be determined.

As a consequence, it said, Commissioner the Right Hon. Sir Gary Hickinbottom will therefore hold a Directions hearing on Monday, June 14 at 9 am to determine these issues.

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“It is expected that witness evidence will commence at 10 am that day. The Commissioner intends that all the matters canvassed at the hearing will be live-streamed on the CoI’s YouTube channel so that the BVI public can continue to follow the work of the CoI,” the release stated.

List of Hearings

The live-streamed hearings will kick off with Opposition Leader and current NDP Chairman, Hon. Marlon Penn.

Sixth District Representative Hon. Alvera Maduro-Caines, who won on the NDP ticket, but who crossed the floor to join the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) following the elections is slated to follow Penn's testimony.

Hon. Maduro-Caines will be followed by Fourth District Representative, Hon. Mark Vanterpool; Third District Representative, Hon. Julian Fraser, the former VIP Chairman who now heads Progressives United; Second District Representative, Hon. Melvin M Turnbull, an NDP breakaway candidiate and PVIM member; and House Speaker, Hon. Julian Willock.

From 11 am, there will be testimony from Attorney General, Hon. Dawn Smith. This will be followed by the current Virgin Islands Party (VIP) ministerial cohort including Junior Minister for Tourism, Hon Sharie de Castro; and Junior Minister for Trade and Economic Development, Hon. Shereen Flax-Charles.

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From 2 pm, it will be Minister for Transportation, Works and Utilities Hon. Kye Rymer followed by Minister for Health and Social Development, Hon. Carvin Malone.

On Tuesday, June 15, from 10 am, Deputy Speaker Hon. Neville Smith will appear, followed by Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Hon. Vincent Wheatley at 2 pm.

On Wednesday, June 16 from 2.00 pm the line up includes former Ninth District Representative under the NDP administration, Dr. Hubert Robinson O’Neal; Former Speaker of the House, Mrs. Ingrid Moses-Scatliffe; and Former Education Minister under the NDP, Mr. Myron Walwyn.

At 4 pm the same day, Deputy Premier, Hon. Natalio Wheatley will testify.

On Thursday, June 17, the CoI will hear from former Premier Dr. Smith; former Labour Minister, Dr. Kedrick Pickering; former Health Minister Mr. Skelton and former Junior Minister for Tourism under the NDP, Mr. Archibald Christian.

Premier and Minister for Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie is expected to give evidence at 1 pm on Friday, June 18.

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