Welcome to the British Virgin Islands Commission of Inquiry website
The Rt Hon Sir Gary Hickinbottom
Sir Gary Hickinbottom is the Sole Commissioner in the British Virgin Islands Commission of Inquiry. He has more than 45 years experience in the law and served as a full-time judge for 20 years, most recently a Lord Justice of Appeal.
Sir Gary has extensive experience in both criminal and civil cases, at the Royal Courts of Justice in the UK and in regional courts, including public law challenges at the highest levels. He has also served as a Judge of the Supreme Court of the Falkland Islands (another British Overseas Territory) and has worked on legal cases in the Caribbean.
A Commission of Inquiry (CoI) is an independent investigation in response to matters of significant concern. In an Overseas Territory (OT) a CoI is established by the Governor.
It is typically led by an independent senior judge who considers submitted information, and draws independent conclusions that will help ensure public welfare.
As set out in the Terms of Reference, the purpose is to establish whether there is evidence of corruption, abuse of office or other serious dishonesty that has taken place in public office in recent years, and if so what conditions allowed this to happen. This will ensure that BVI’s governance is working in a fair and transparent manner for the people of BVI. The Commissioner will report his findings and recommendations to the Governor.
The Commission of Inquiry is not a court, therefore it will not make findings of criminality.
This Commission of Inquiry has been launched, in part, in response to wide public concerns. The Commission welcomes and encourages public input to ensure these concerns are addressed.
There are a number of ways for anyone to input – online via this website, in person or by sending information to the Commission's postal address. The Commissioner may also invite members of the public and others to meet him or share written evidence throughout the process.
Information that is submitted to the Commission should be submitted in your own name. However, if you wish your information to remain confidential or wish to maintain anonymity you should make that clear. In these circumstances your submission will remain confidential/anonymous unless later you specifically agree to the information being opened up/de-anonymised.
The Commission of Inquiry Act (the legal basis for a Commission) states that any evidence given to the Commissioner cannot be used in subsequent proceedings. That means, that any evidence you submit cannot be used in court or in a criminal investigation at a later date.
The Commission does not envisage that most people who provide information will be called to give oral evidence. However, the Commissioner has the power to do this under BVI law if necessary and so, if called, you must attend. You may invite legal representation to accompany you if you wish.
The Commissioner will provide a report of his findings and his recommendations for next steps to the Governor within approximately 6 months for the Governor’s consideration.
The Governor’s Office has a responsibility to protect the good governance, security and the people of BVI and is fully committed to the inquiry. The Governor will consider the report and recommendations in partnership with local institutions.
The UK Government has a responsibility to support the security and good governance of BVI and will fund the core cost of this Commission of Inquiry.
If individuals or organisations choose to appoint their own legal counsel, the UK Government will not pay the fees associated with that counsel.