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Blakeney: ‘I was in my right’

Sports Minister Glenn Blakeney said he was within his “full right” to convene a Commission of Inquiry to probe how the island’s two national sports spent millions of Government funding.

The Minister has formed a seven-member commission that will explore how Bermuda Cricket Board (BCB) and Bermuda Football Association (BFA) spent nearly 20 million dollars of the public purse.

BFA president and former Attorney General Larry Mussenden has argued that Blakeney “had no authority” to form what he termed as an “unlawful” Commission of Inquiry that violates the Commissions of Inquiry Act of 1935 and has taken the Minister to task for doing so.

But Blakeney is adamant he was within his remit to form the inquiry, an argument reinforced by Governor Sir Richard Gozney.

“I think the Governor very appropriately answered that question in so far that it is not a public inquiry. It is an inquiry that under the constitution I would have full right to request,” Blakeney told

The Royal Gazette.

The Bermuda Constitution clearly states the “Governor may appoint commissioners of inquiry into matters of public nature”. From the outset Blakeney has stressed that the commission he formed is a “private commission” and not a public one that would have fallen under the umbrella of the Commissions of Inquiry Act of 1935.

“It’s not a public commission, which of course would require the Governor’s intervention,” he said. “It’s not a commission with a capital ‘C’…. it’s relative to me as the substantive Minister doing what I feel is in the best interests of both sports.

“The BFA and BCB received significant public funding and this (Commission of Inquiry) is just to give an opportunity by way of an independent group of people to look into the funding that was allocated and whatever it touched.

“When you have areas of concern and you have provided resources to an entity and you are accountable to the public, then I think we have the prerogative and responsibility as a Government to do some digging just to make sure we can be sure we can do things better if we have not done them as well as they can be done.”

The Minister has come under fire from various sectors since launching the Commission of Inquiry, with BFA president Mussenden among his biggest critics.

Among a litany of concerns Mussenden warned that the inquiry could result in FIFA banning Bermuda from international competition if Government began probing into funds the BFA receive from world football’s governing body.

But Blakeney believes that his PLP colleague has “over-reacted” to the situation and said the commission is only concerned about the “funds that were allocated by the Government on behalf of the public of Bermuda” to the BFA.

“Both the BFA and BCB are registered charitable organisations and, as such, their financial accounts are open to the public to review,” he said. “And to my knowledge we have given football more money than FIFA or private and corporate entities unless the BFA has received more than we know about.

“I think he’s (Mussenden) barking up the wrong tree and if necessary I’m prepared to have a chat with FIFA to let them know exactly what the position is.”

Glenn Blakeney

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Published September 27, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated September 27, 2011 at 9:13 am)

Blakeney: ‘I was in my right’

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