ROSEAU, Dominica, CMC – Lawyers for Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit have defended the decision to go to the courts regarding the decision of the Integrity Commission to probe allegations that the head of government had breached the Integrity in Public Office’s (IPO) Code of Conduct.
The Commission was due to have started its hearings on Monday, but Justice Brian Cottle last Friday granted the lawyers leave to apply for judicial review against the decision of the Integrity Commission.
The inquiry, which was first scheduled for December 17 last year, was postponed due to a challenge by the Prime Minister’s legal team in response to a complaint made by journalist Lennox Linton.
The Prime Minister’s legal team argued that the inquiry was “unlawful” and some of the members of Commission were “politically bias” and may not be able to adjudicate fairly.
But the Commission ruled against Skerrit’s legal team said that the opening statements would have started on February 25.
Linton alleges that Prime Minister Skerrit violated the Act after he allegedly used his “official influence” as Chairman of the Cabinet to secure concessions for a business concern in which he is alleged to hold ownership interest.
Attorney Lennox Lawrence, one of the attorneys representing Prime Minister Skerrit, said that the Commission had informed them that the inquiry had been postponed.
“The Commission issued a letter saying that they having considered the objections by the Prime Minister’s legal team and on legal advice received they have decided themselves not to proceed until further notice,” Lawrence said.
“They went further announcing that they will not proceed until the substantive matter is heard. What is significant here is that the Prime Minister’s legal team had raised significant legal issues in relation to the conduct of the Commission.”
Lawrence said that two members of the Commission are being challenged and are former attorneys general and “being experienced attorneys or any reasonable person would have concluded that they would understand the law because they were legal advisors to governments and it is a matter of grave concern that they could not advise themselves on the law and had to get legal advice to determine what they were seeking to do was a matter that was irregular and unlawful and they should not proceed with it”.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Skerrit said he would not engage in any public confrontations with the Integrity Commission.
“As you recognise I have never said anything on this matter, the Integrity Commission has taken its decisions I will take my decision in so far as defending myself,:” he said then.