Governor To The British Virgin Islands John Rankin Cmg
Commission Of Inquiry Report Update
Yesterday, 4 April, I received the Commission of Inquiry Report from Commissioner Sir Gary Hickinbottom. I am extremely grateful to him and his team for their hard work over the last 15 months. I believe that they have carried out a valuable service for the people of the British Virgin Islands.
I am also extremely grateful to the hundreds of BVI officials, members and former members of the House of Assembly, and members of the public who have made valuable and essential contributions in helping the Commissioner to carry out his mandate.
My predecessor decided to hold a Commission of Inquiry into governance in order that our Territory may move forward. It was not an easy decision nor taken lightly, but one he felt was in the best interests of the British Virgin Islands. I supported his decision and my approach is the same as his: the best interests of the BVI and its good governance will always be the basis for everything that I do.
The Commission’s Report is long and detailed with almost 1,000 pages and over 40 recommendations. I appreciate that there is a lot of interest in the Report, but I hope you will understand that I will need some time to read and consider the findings and all of the Commissioner’s recommendations. I will not be making any further statements on the Report until I have done so.
I have shared a copy of the Report with the Minister for the Overseas Territories in confidence and there will also be a need to discuss the Report’s findings and recommendations with BVI political leaders. During his visit to the UK in November, the Honourable Premier suggested to the Minister for the Overseas Territories a meeting in London for this purpose, and the two discussed this again during the latter’s recent visit to BVI. I have confirmed with the Premier that he is content with this approach.
Once I have completed my review of the Report I will announce next steps including details about access to the Report for:
• elected and other officials with whom I will first discuss the findings and recommendations, such as the Honourable Premier;
• any others with good reason to see the Report before possible publication; and
• the public.
It is my hope that I will be able to publish the Report in full, though I must first assess whether it is in the public interest to do so.
I will review the Report as quickly as I can, but I trust you will agree that it is important to do so properly and not rush things. I therefore do not expect to make any further substantive statements on the Report until shortly after Easter.
In the interim period I know that there will be speculation, and some people may try to discredit or second-guess the COI Report and recommendations, claiming incorrectly to know what they are. But I hope the people of the BVI will recognise the need for me to carefully consider the Report in line with my duties as Governor, before further decisions on next steps are made. That, I believe, will be the best interests of the Territory and its good governance.