Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Another Integrity Commissioner resigns

Published:Saturday | January 11, 2020 | 12:21 AM
Dr Derrick McKoy, former commissioner of the Integrity Commission.
Dr Derrick McKoy, former commissioner of the Integrity Commission.

Jamaica’s fledgling anti-corruption body has again been reduced following the resignation of Dr Derrick McKoy.

McKoy submitted his resignation letter recently to chairman of the Integrity Commission, Seymour Panton, The Gleaner understands.

A reliable source informed this newspaper that McKoy’s resignation letter was now with Governor General Sir Patrick Allen.

An attorney-at-law, McKoy was appointed to the commission by the governor general in March 2018. He is also a former contractor general of Jamaica.

His resignation follows that of former chairman of the commission, Karl Harrison, who stepped down from the post in July last year.

In late October, retired Justice Lloyd Hibbert was appointed to the Integrity Commission, taking the commissioner’s post vacated by Panton.

The almost two-year-old commission had also seen the departure, last year, of former acting director of corruption prosecutions, Dirk Harrison, who said that he was proceeding on retirement.

Attempts to reach McKoy yesterday for a comment were unsuccessful.

When former Chairman Harrison resigned, calls for a review of the legislation governing the anti-corruption agency came from civil society and the parliamentary Opposition.

Head of the National Integrity Action, Trevor Munroe, told The Gleaner at the time that the review should receive and consider submissions from the public, as well as recommendations from the commission itself. He said that this would allow the integrity body to be more transparent and accountable in its operations.

CONFIDENTIALITY CLAUSE

At the commission’s first press conference in May last year, Panton, who was not yet elevated to the post of chairman, told journalists that confidentiality clauses had effectively gagged the agency from defending itself against criticisms.

Panton had said that any review of the Integrity Commission Act should consider allowing the entity to speak on matters relating to investigations.

“... That is one matter that has to be amended. We have seen where certain persons are calling for aspects of the law to be amended; they have not mentioned this aspect,” Panton said.

His comments came at a time when the commission was engaged in a spat with Dirk Harrison over a contentious report on the sale of the Rooms on the Beach property.

The sale of the St Ann-based property for just over US$6 million less than the US$13.5-million valuation was investigated by the then Harrison-led Office of the Contractor General. Harrison’s report was critical of Cabinet Minister Daryl Vaz for his alleged interference in the sale. Vaz, the minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, had denied any wrongdoing.

However, at the May press conference in 2019, McKoy had said that he would not accept all the findings in the report.

The Integrity Commission is now in the process of identifying persons for senior positions in the entity. At present, former secretary manager of the Corruption Prevention Commission, David Grey, is acting head of the investigation division; Joy Powell has been appointed interim director of the information and complaints division; while Colonel Daniel Pryce is the acting executive director.

editorial@gleanerjm.com