Editorial Staff
9 months ago

Editorial Staff
9 months ago

Governor General breaks silence on Commission of Inquiry Saga saying he cannot act alone

Governor General Sir Rodney Williams

STATEMENT ON GOVERNOR GENERAL’S POWERS TO SET UP A COMMISSION OF INQUIRY

 

Upon assuming office, the Governor General took an oath “to preserve the constitution of Antigua and Barbuda and the law” and “conscientiously, impartially and to the best of [his] ability discharge [his] duties as and do right to all manner of people without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.”  

In the light of the debate concerning his powers to call a Commission of Inquiry into matters related to the circumstances under which certain African citizens arrived in Antigua, the Governor General instructed his office to secure independent expert legal advice upon whether he has a power to call a Commission of Inquiry in the absence of a request from the Cabinet (or a duly authorised Minister). 

Accordingly, the Office of the Governor General engaged legal firm BDB Pitmans LLP, a reputable chamber with vast constitutional law experience at the level of the Privy Council, to instruct London based senior counsel, Gregory Jones KC to provide a written legal opinion.  In addition, the Governor General also separately instructed senior counsel, Allan S. Wood KC, based in the Caribbean to provide an opinion on the same question.  

Acting independently of each other, both KCs came to the same view quite separately: namely, that it would not be lawful under the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda for the Governor General to call a Commission of Inquiry otherwise than upon the advice of the Cabinet (or a duly authorised Minister). It should be noted that this view also accords with a written legal opinion dated 18 September 2002, held by the Governor General’s office and obtained by the previous Governor General from a specialist independent counsel in London.

These legal opinions also accord with past practice The record shows that on all previous occasions when Commissions of Inquiry were established, they were only done upon the advice of the Cabinet.

Consistent with the principles of transparency and impartiality, the Governor General wrote by letters dated May 24th and 25th 2023, to the Government and the Opposition respectively, setting out the legal position and enclosing copies of all three legal opinions.  For the benefit of the general public, the said legal opinions are attached for information purposes.

In summary, the inability of the Governor General lawfully to act alone in this matter is well-established. The Governor General is bound by his oath of office to act in accordance with the established law.

1 Comment

  1. Mae

    It is either Cutie or Gaston that wrote that hogwash response letter claiming the GG wrote it. Those two ministers are deeply involved with the Antigua Airways saga, and they will do anything to let that inquiry not come to fulfilment. We had a public inquiry before under the former GG, Mr Carlisle. We will get that inquiry one way or the other because we, the people say so. Gaston and his cabinet remember we are the people that hired you guys to handle our country’s affairs and we can fire you’ll anytime. Remember that we still have a say in our country’s affairs it is not you guys alone, Gaston and Cutie. Please step down and step out of the people’s office.

    Reply

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