Najan Christopher, director of the International Affairs Secretariat, faced Magistrates’ Court last Thursday in connection with a letter allegedly prepared without proper authorisation to request head-of-government immunity for then-Premier Andrew Fahie shortly after his Florida arrest on drug and money-laundering conspiracy charges.
Ms. Christopher, 46, pleaded not guilty to breach of trust and false assumption of authority, and Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards granted bail of $30,000 and ordered her to report to the Road Town Police Station twice a week.
Last Thursday, Director of Public Prosecutions Tiffany Scatliffe-Esprit read the complaint to the court.
After Mr. Fahie’s April 28 arrest, she stated, “what appeared to be” a diplomatic note circulated on social media and on the website of the Premier’s Office.
Mr. Fahie’s Florida attorney used the note — which was printed on Premier’s Office letterhead and carried the International Affairs Secretariat’s stamp — as a supporting document in a United States court as part of Mr. Fahie’s unsuccessful demand to be released on the grounds of head-of-government immunity.
On May 5, Deputy Governor David Archer Jr. informed the police of the note, stating that Governor John Rankin had not requested diplomatic immunity for Mr. Fahie, the prosecutor said.
Ms. Scatliffe-Esprit noted that such immunity typically is granted only to heads of sovereign states, not to territorial leaders.
Senior officials told police that they knew of no advice given to prepare the note, and records from email servers showed that Ms. Christopher was responsible for preparing and executing the document, according to the DPP.
On Aug. 17, the police informed Ms. Christopher of a report against her and cautioned her, Ms. Scatliffe-Esprit said.
She was then interviewed under caution on Aug. 22, and she allegedly admitted to preparing the document, according to the prosecutor.
Ms. Christopher was released pending further investigation, but she was arrested and charged on Oct. 11, the DPP said.
Ms. Scatliffe-Esprit told the court that the Crown did not object to bail but pressed for Ms. Christopher’s travel documents to be surrendered to the court.
Defence attorney Terrence Williams said Ms. Christopher is not a flight risk, and that she looks after her elderly father, owns a family business, owns property in the VI, and has strong ties here.
He argued that she needs travel documents to travel from “time to time” for healthcare for herself and her father. She also assists her great-nephew in travelling to the US to meet with her cousins, he said. The magistrate, however, did not grant a request to lift travel restrictions, and she ordered Ms. Christopher to sur- render her passport to the court.
A reporting date was scheduled for Jan. 12, but no trial date has been set.