The United Kingdom’s commission of inquiry is scheduled to start holding its first hearings today in Road Town.
The move is the next step after the commission received various written records it requested, Commission Secretary Steven Chandler said in an April 23 press release.
Premier Andrew Fahie noted in a recent House of Assembly sitting that the Virgin Islands government had so far supplied nearly 73,000 pages worth of requested documents to aid the investigation.
“Whilst the requests have resulted in many documents being lodged with the COI, for which the commissioner is grateful, he considers that hearings are now required to facilitate the prompt and full production of relevant information and documents,” Mr. Chandler wrote.
These initial hearings will likely be short and “conducted in private so as to ensure that documents and information that cannot at present be disclosed in public can be securely provided to the COI,” he added.
Though the first hearings are to be held behind closed doors, information about them may be provided to the public after the fact, according to Mr. Chandler.
“Mindful of the need for openness where possible, following each hearing [Commissioner Sir Gary Hickinbottom] will give directions for any publicity of that hearing he considers appropriate,” the statement noted.
The commission issued its first summons on April 23, and Sir Gary expects to hold further hearings in the coming weeks.
The rules for the hearings, which were published on April 13, can be found on the COI’s website at www.bvi.public-inquiry.uk.
Meanwhile, the commissioner continues to encourage anyone who believes they have information that may assist the inquiry to provide it as soon as possible via the secure website portal on the COI website.
Information can also be supplied through a dedicated email address (firstname.lastname@example.org); a WhatsApp number for messages or audio/video calls (284-340- 9078); and a UK postal address (The Secretary, BVI Commission of Inquiry, Room RB 1.11, 22 Whitehall, London SW1A 2EG).