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COI: final report delayed again

Commission of Inquiry: Fiona Luck, chairman and former Court of Appeal judge Sir Anthony Evans, John Barritt and Kumi Bradshaw (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Commission of Inquiry has been given a third extension after failing to release its report on the misuse of public funds by Tuesday’s deadline.

The independent four-person panel, chaired by Sir Anthony Evans, has been tasked with looking into the findings of the Auditor-General in her report on the 2010, 2011 and 2012 financial years.

It began its work on April 1 and was originally given 20 weeks to deliver its report, meaning a deadline before the end of August. But in June, after a single public hearing was held, the commission was adjourned for further hearings in September and the deadline pushed back to December 31.

In October, the commission stated in the Frequently Asked Questions section of its website that it remained “focused on a target completion date of December 31”.

But the report was not completed by that date and the commission revealed that it had asked Michael Dunkley for another extension, until the end of January.

Yesterday, the Premier said he had extended the deadline again for the submission of the final report from the commission for another month, until February 28.

Mr Dunkley said: “I have been advised by the members of the commission that in addition to completing the mechanics of producing their report, the extension will allow time for communication with those who testified before the commission and who now may be subject [to] criticism in the report.

“In turn, this provides persons who may be contacted to respond if they wish to do so.

“As this four-week time period ensures that due process may be followed, I have no issue with granting the commission’s request for extension. It should be noted that this extension is not expected to result in additional costs.”

The original sum budgeted for the commission by the Cabinet Office was $480,000 but was later increased to $1.16 million.

The panel said on its website in October: “The commission is proposing to account for the expenditure of its budget upon completion of its work, ie when its report is submitted to the Premier.”

It noted that the law requires it to present its report in writing to the Premier and “when required, furnish to the Premier a full statement of the proceedings of the commission and of the reasons leading to conclusions arrived at or reported”.

As well as former Bermuda Court of Appeal judge Sir Anthony, the commission’s members are lawyer and former MP John Barritt, businesswoman Fiona Luck and businessman Kumi Bradshaw.

We asked the commission for comment from Sir Anthony or the panel as a whole on the latest extension but the commission said it could not provide one by press time.

In the interests of treating the Commission of Inquiry much like continuing court proceedings, The Royal Gazette has taken the decision to disable comments. This is done for the protection legally of both the newspaper and our readers