Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit isn’t saying much about a matter before the Integrity in Public Office Commission (IPO), in which he has been embroiled in, only saying that he is not going to get involved in public confrontation with institutions which have been created by the laws of Dominica.
However he said he is prepared to defend himself and pointed out that the approach to the entire matter is wrong. “I will take the decision in so far as defending myself,” he said. “We believe that the approach is wrong …my lawyers have been discussing it.”
He remarked he has nothing more to say except that he is not going to publicly confront the IPO. “I am not going to say anything other than that about the commission and its hearing,” he remarked. “It’s a matter for when the time comes for a decision to be taken but I am not going to engage myself in any public confrontation with any institution created by law.”
PM Skerrit is before the commission on a complaint brought by radio personality and journalist Lennox Linton, who claimed that he had used his official influence as chairman of Cabinet to secure concessions for a business concern in which it is alleged that he holds ownership interest.
Hearings on the matter were expected to begin on December 17, 2012, but were pushed back to January 7 after the prime minister’s lead attorney, Senior Counsel Tony Astaphan, and his team, threatened to take the matter to court seeking an injunction to have it quashed.
The lawyers had written to the IPO challenging the legitimacy of two of its members saying the proposed hearings were ‘unlawful.’ They also went to court seeking a judicial review.
The commission subsequently ruled that they (the lawyers) were entitled to be heard and the hearings were pushed back.
However the matter took another turn when it was reported that secret and confidential proceedings before the Commission concerning the prime minister fell into the hands of Linton and read on his radio show.
This prompted an exchange between Linton and Astaphan with Linton accusing the senior counsel of the alleged leak. Astaphan responded by describing the accusation as a ‘cock and bull’ story.
In the face of all this, the IPO ruled that it will be going ahead with hearings since it has the jurisdiction, as entitled by law, to proceed.
The hearings are expected to begin on February 23.
But Astaphan is not backing down and has vowed to challenged the IPO’s decision “every single step of the judicial process,” arguing that it is not fair nor right.