Justice Bruce-Lyle throws out Sir James’ request
September 21, 2007

Justice Bruce-Lyle throws out Sir James’ request

The on again, off again epic in the making, referred to as the Ottley Hall Commission of Enquiry, is on again, but for how long?{{more}}

The word coming out of the Commission’s office is that the Inquiry is slated to resume some time in the upcoming weeks.

This, after Justice Frederick Bruce-Lyle ruled last week Friday, September 14, that the rights of former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell had not been encroached upon.

A stay in the proceedings had been granted two weeks ago by Justice Bruce-Lyle, while he pondered a request made by former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell and his lawyers.

The lawyers contended that Sir James’ constitutional rights had been violated, when a law which stipulated that the legal fees of a person who is taking part in a Government Commission of Inquiry should be paid by the government was repealed.

However, Justice Bruce-Lyle did not agree.

He also did not permit Sir James leave to appeal his decision.

This is good news for Counsel for the Inquiry, lawyer Joseph Delves, who said on Tuesday that he and co-Counsel Anthony Astaphan are ready to resume.

Delves said that the Commission is looking at a number of dates to restart the proceedings, but none has been decided as yet.

Although Sir James had, on Monday September 17, directly requested appeal at the East Caribbean Court of Appeal, Delves said that the man who led this country for 16 years is expected to appear at the Inquiry, unless his request is upheld.

“Sir James will be treated like any other witness,” Delves said. “All due process available to any witness will be available to Sir James.”

There is a fifty-fifty chance that the new request by Sir James’ lawyers will be upheld, causing a further stay to the Inquiry, but until then, all systems are go once more, that is, until further notice.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, commenting on the judge’s decision, said that the Ottley Hall Inquiry is one of public interest and policy, and promised that the Commission will continue its work.

He said that it is the government’s resolve that the public must know the truth, and anyone found civilly or criminally responsible would be brought to justice.

Dr. Gonsalves went on to forcefully state that: “If at any time, on any factual issue, that anyone seeks to mislead the country, it would be my duty once those facts are in my knowledge as Minister of Finance and Prime Minister, and /or those facts are in public domain, I shall speak because I do not intend to have the people of this country misled.”