Justice Kennard dismisses challenge against legality of CoI

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Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into City Hall, Justice Cecil Kennard today dismissed arguments by Maxwell Edwards, the Attorney-at-Law representing Town Clerk, Royston King, who challenged that the CoI is illegal.

Shortly before the Town Clerk took the stands at the CoI, the Attorney argued that the Local Government Commission (LGC) Act gives the body the right to initiate and conduct investigations into any local government organ while having the powers of a CoI to summon witnesses.

He pointed out, however, that the body cannot “delegate” its task to a CoI.

The CoI was established by the LGC to investigate complaints against the Town Clerk. The Town Clerk has since been sent on administrative leave pending the outcome of the inquiry.

After approximately two hours of deliberation, Justice Kennard dismissed the challenge, noting that given the “magnitude of the investigation,” a CoI is warranted.

Justice Kennard stated that “one has to apply common sense approach to the situation.”

“It was commendable on the part of the Commission to set up this inquiry,” he noted.

Following the ruling, Mr. King was placed on the stand for just a few minutes during which he relayed that he has been with the council since 1989 and served as the City’s PRO for 15 years.

He was also questioned about the state of City Hall and the City Constabulary Training Complex.

He agreed that both buildings are in a state of disrepair but noted that there is a lack of resources.

As it relates to the Training Complex located on Water Street, Georgetown, which is used to house City Hall’s archive, the Town Clerk explained that during his time as Public Relations Officer, he embarked on a program to upgrade the facility with help from the National Archives.

However, he said the city was unable to sustain the program due to a lack of adequate financial and human resources.

In this year’s budget, he disclosed that a submission was made to the council for permission to set up a document centre, a library and an IT centre to address the concerns about the state of the archive.

In relation to City Hall, he pointed to the restoration and conservation plan submitted by the European Union which will cost US$4.5M but again, noted that there is a lack of resources.

Last week, City Engineer, Colvern Venture admitted that $47M was spent this year to conduct renovation works at the Training complex. He agreed that that money could have been better utilized on City Hall.

The Town Clerk is set to re-appear before the council on Friday.

In closing, the CoI Chairman assured the Town Clerk that “you have nothing to fear,” adding that his comments in the final report and recommendations can only be based on the evidence submitted to the CoI.

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