Opposition senator says he’ll now sign Code of Conduct; Golding cautions against alleged attack from Gov’t lawmakers
FORMER MINISTER of National Security Peter Bunting says his confidence in the Integrity Commission has been restored after the anti-corruption body exonerated him in an addendum to a special report, which first accused him of acting improperly in the issuing of firearm licences.
At the same time, Leader of the Opposition Mark Golding has sent a strong signal to the Government that he would not support any move by lawmakers to curtail the powers of the anti-corruption body.
Bunting told The Gleaner yesterday that he welcomed the addendum, which rectified the characterisation of his actions as set out in the original report.
“I think it is a commendable effort to correct the record, and I think it demonstrates a commitment to fairness and impartiality by the Integrity Commission,” Bunting said.
He indicated that the commission, which is just seven years old, is still going through a learning process, and as such, if errors are identified and brought to the attention of the commission and it is re-examined and fixed, it reflects a move towards greater professionalism.
Bunting had previously said that he would not sign the Leadership Code of Conduct as a mark of protest against the March 2022 report.
However, he told The Gleaner that he intended to sign the code.
“I welcomed the fact that they eventually deemed it sufficiently credible to carry out a re-examination of the report as it affected me,” he added.
Bunting, an opposition senator, said his attorney had written the commission on a line-by-line basis rebutting the assertions and conclusions in the original report as it affected him.
The current director of investigations reviewed the report of his predecessor and submitted an addendum to Parliament, which effectively exonerated Bunting of acting improperly.
“I think in looking at all of that, my resolve to public life and to duty was certainly tested by the original report. In a sense, my belief in the system and in the commission has been restored, and I remain resolute in my commitment to serving the nation in whatever capacity I can,” Bunting said.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday on the Motion of Adjournment moved by Member of Parliament for St Mary Western Robert Montague, the opposition leader cautioned against what he described as an attack from Government lawmakers on the Integrity Commission.
In its special report of investigation in March 2022, the commission indicated that Montague granted gun licences to persons with a criminal history while he was Jamaica’s national security minister.
Montague has stated that he did nothing wrong and broke no law. He insisted that as a minister, he exercised his discretion in good faith and acted at all times in accordance with the law.
However, Golding urged Montague to present his case to the commission if he feels he has not been treated fairly.
The opposition leader said he has seen a trend for the government lawmakers through the oversight committee or committee that is reviewing the Integrity Commission Act to seek to dismantle the powers of the anti-corruption body and neuter it.
“The Integrity Commission should be nurtured as a young institution so it can fulfil its mandate of trying to eradicate corruption in this country, which is one of the most serious problems this country faces.”
He noted that where the commission makes an error, it should correct it in an appropriate manner “as they have done with this addendum”.
Golding said that it was important that the commission saw fairness as part of its mandate.
However, he warned that he would not support any move by lawmakers to undermine the legitimacy of the Integrity Commission.