A High Court judge has granted Julian Willock leave to challenge the legality of a government investigation of his actions — and today she is hearing his case in court.
Mr. Willock, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Communications and Works, filed an application to seek leave for judicial review on Dec. 13. On Jan. 31, Mr. Willock’s attorney Gerard Farara, QC, and acting Attorney General Baba Aziz argued the application in a closed-door hearing before Justice Rita Joseph-Olivetti. She issued a judgment Feb. 3.
The Beacon accessed a copy of the judgment on the court’s website yesterday.
According to the document, Mr. Farara argued in court that the Public Service Commission does not have authority under the law to “establish or appoint an investigating committee in circumstances where dismissal may be warranted.”
Furthermore, Mr. Willock was never granted a “face-to-face interview” with the three-person committee that was investigating him, even though he was provided with investigation guidelines stating that such an interview was “central” to the process, according to the judgment.
Mr. Willock was sent on compulsory leave last July to enable an investigation into “as of yet unsubstantiated but serious allegations in the print media,” according to Government Information Services. The announcement came six days after The BVI Beacon published an article about Mr. Willock’s involvement with the news website Virgin Islands News Online.
The article reported journalists’ claims to have worked for VINO without work permits, and to have received pay from Advance Marketing & Professional Services, the VINO parent company co-owned by Mr. Willock and Angela Burns, a marketing executive for Digicel-BVI.
See the March 24, 2011 edition for full coverage.