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Governor seeks legal advice over Commission of Inquiry claims

Legal advice: Rena Lalgie, the Governor (File photograph)

Rena Lalgie, the Governor, is taking legal advice before deciding whether an independent judge from overseas should be called in to preside over a judicial review.

The application for a judicial review into the legitimacy of the Commission of Inquiry into Historical Loss of Land was made by Raymond Davis and Myron Piper in January 2021.

The pair were blocked from giving evidence to the commission and subsequently claimed it was a sham and that commissioners failed to act impartially.

But the judicial review has still not been held — because all the full-time local civil judges, including Chief Justice Narinder Hargun, have conflicts of interest.

In a letter to Ms Lalgie this month, Mr Davis, also known as Khalid Wasi, and Mr Piper wrote: “It is now nearly one year since our application was filed. This begs the need for an external review into the unsatisfactory way in which judicial appointments are made in Bermuda.

“Any citizen who files a matter before the Bermuda courts has an expectation under the Bermuda Constitution that there is an independent judiciary and impartial judges ready and able to adjudicate fair hearings in a timely manner. Matters of public interest deserve particular and prompt attention.

“We are once again asking for Your Excellency’s intervention as a matter of utmost urgency and are requesting that Your Excellency oversee an intervention from the UK government to take the necessary steps to appoint an independent judge from outside the jurisdiction to hear our matter and any other future matters relating to this Commission of Inquiry.”

The commission compiled a 514-page report on its findings in November. That document is due to be debated in the House of Assembly during the next parliamentary session, which starts on Friday.

In a response to Mr Davis and Mr Piper, an e-mail from Ms Lalgie’s private secretary read: ”The Governor is in receipt of your letter of 11 January and has noted your request for a response by 17 January.

“She is seeking legal advice and hopes to obtain the advice necessary in order to respond to your letter in due course.”

Mr Davis replied: “Our hope is that the Governor does get her advice in a timely manner, given that Parliament is due to discuss the reading of the 500-page CoI report in February.

“It would be important for the Speaker of the House and the Members of Parliament to be aware of the status of our application, which will continue to seek a judicial review of the CoI.

“Our application will have direct implications on the efficacy of the report itself. It may in such a case become the position of Her Excellency the Governor to advise the parliament not to discuss the report until the legal processes are concluded given we contest the CoI as being ultra vires.”

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Published January 31, 2022 at 9:57 am (Updated January 31, 2022 at 9:57 am)

Governor seeks legal advice over Commission of Inquiry claims

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