A hearing by the Integrity in Public Office (IPO) Commission on a matter concerning Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, has now been pushed to January 7th, 2013, Dominica News Online has learnt.
Hearings were expected to begin on December 17. However, lawyers representing the prime minister had threatened to take the matter to court seeking an injunction to have it quashed.
The lawyers had written to the IPO challenging two of its members, Babs Dyer of the Dominica Bar Association and Anthony Laronde, a United Workers Party nominee.
According to a source with reliable information on the matter, “there was a debate as to whether they (Skerrit’s) lawyers were entitled to be heard and since Davidson Bruney cannot deliberate on the matter it was taken to a vote (at the IPO Commission) which ended at 3-3 … the chairman then had to break the deadlock and he voted to have the matter pushed to January 7, 2013.”
Radio personality and journalist Lennox Linton had filed complaints against Skerrit and the Integrity Commission ruled it will investigate for an alleged breach of the Code of Conduct in the Integrity in Public Office Act of 2003.
Linton filed the complaint with the Commission in November 5, 2010 alleging that the Prime Minister had been in breach of Section 1 (c) and 1 (e) of the Code of Conduct in the Second Schedule to the Act and Section 47 (1) of the Act.
An Evidence Bundle, comprising 28 chapters of documents related to the alleged breaches, was submitted to the Commission for consideration.
Linton in his letter to the Commission alleged that Prime Minister Skerrit is in breach of section 47 (1) of the Act “by virtue of his possession of unaccounted property, namely 8 ocean front villas at Guilette, Savanne Paille with an estimated market value of 8 million EC dollars which cannot be explained by his legal income.”
He further contended that the Prime Minister, in order to finance his ownership interest in the villas which he could not afford on his legal income “accepted gifts, benefits or advantages in contravention of item (c) in the Code of Conduct”.
Linton went on to argue that on account of his chairmanship of a Cabinet meeting on October 9th 2007, which granted a full suite of concessions to Blaircourt Property Development Ltd for the construction of the villas at Guilette, “the Prime Minster breached item (e) of the Code of Conduct by using his official influence to secure concessions for a business venture in which he had an ownership interest.”
After a careful review of the complaint, Evidence Bundle and a further oral submission by Linton, the Commission concluded that there was sufficient grounds upon which to investigate Prime Minister Skerrit for a possible violation of the provisions of rule 1 (e) of the Code of Conduct.