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Ten Year Anniversary, Commission of Inquiry announced for TCI this day in history 2008

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Sir Robin Auld

#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – Tuesday July 10, 2018 – In nine days from today, the Rt. Hon. Sir Robin Auld, a 60-year attorney, a former Lord Justice of the Court of Appeal for England and Wales,  a Queen’s Council,  a man knighted 30 years ago and the leading man in a decade’s old debacle in Turks and Caicos will celebrate his 81st birthday; that however is not what this flashback piece is about…

This Magnetic Media article is a reflective report and a rousing reminder of the 10 year anniversary of the genesis of the controversial announcement that the Turks and Caicos Islands would be subject to a Commission of Inquiry or COI (as we have labelled it).

That inquiry – unravelling scandalously at a makeshift courtroom at the Palms Resort in 2009 – was led by Sir Robin Auld, QC.

From Commission of Inquiry Report

The revelation that the COI was unavoidable following a Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) report was made six months earlier in the meeting room of the Sands Resort on July 10, 2008 and it came from then Governor, Richard Tauwhare.  Mr. Tauwhare also issued a National Address about the coming of the probe into government malfeasance.

“In exercise of my powers as Governor under the Commissions of Inquiry ordinance, I have today, Thursday 10th July 2008 appointed a commission of inquiry to inquire into whether there is information that corruption or other serious dishonesty in relation to past and present elected members of the House of Assembly, previously known as the Legislative Council may have taken place in recent years.”

Ten days later, Richard Tauwhare, his wife and two children were gone, bid farewell in a dazzling show at the Providenciales International Airport.  The three-year governor was transported out of the islands which were about to undergo a metamorphosis many say retarded the country’s progress on the way to greater self-determination.

Former Governor Richard Tauwhare

Tauwhare in that National Address, where he was clearly and even nervously reading from a teleprompter, acknowledged the seriousness of his decision.

“The appointing of a Commission of Inquiry is an extremely serious step. I have taken this decision only after the most careful and detailed deliberation. I did so after following an instruction from the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to consider in accordance with the Commissions of Inquiry Ordinance whether a commission should be appointed.”

While the statement assured that there was no wish by the United Kingdom to interfere with the democratic process in the Turks and Caicos Islands, testimonies and conclusions given during the captivating COI led to a complete overhaul of the democracy.

Announced by new Governor, H.E. Gordon Wethell was a constitutional suspension on August 14, 2009 which ushered in British-direct rule; there was an interim administration appointed by the UK for three years; there was a new constitution created for the territory which allowed for trial without jury and the powers of the elected administration were reduced and in some cases retracted.

Former Governor Gordon Wetherell

On the flip side, the UK maintained its posture that the move to conduct the Commission of Inquiry would unearth evidence which proved that they were right to intervene and shut down the scandalous administrative style of the Mike Misick regime.

The just over four weeks of the COI spawned some of the Caribbean’s most awe-striking headlines and jaw dropping moments.  Even cronies and supporters of the Progressive National Party government were reduced to grunts and groans as the bundles and bundles of evidence were painstakingly extracted and exposed. 

The curious and intrigued remained glued to the proceedings where reports emerged of lavish purchases including a specially designed jet, journeys of government and celebrity friends to remote and exotic corners of the globe, suspect under-the-table payouts and overrides of policies for would-be developers, cheap sales of luxury lands, weighty price tags attached to anything from cars, to clothing, to parties, residences, spousal allowances and even a reported $7,000 spent on coffee and pastries – all allegations of systemic weaknesses and serious government dishonesty which unfolded like a Hollywood drama, to a packed house.

From Essence magazine

The monumental costs were pinned to the Public Purse or abuse of public office; Michael Misick claimed he had a serious debt problem due to the extravagant life led by his extravagant wife.  Monies allegedly forked over to the embattled ex-premier – who eventually resigned – were called loans, and nothing more.

Ten years on, Sir Robin Ernest Auld is seemingly retired as an acclaimed author and celebrated professor noted in the annals at the astute Squire Law Library in Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

In his career highlights at Squire Law Library, last on the list is the 2008-2009 Commission of Inquiry into governmental corruption in the Turks and Caicos Islands.  However, up to 2014, Sir Robin Auld remained busy as consultant, adviser and representative for the UK where his mission was to Kyiv, Ukraine.

The 2008-2009 Commission of Inquiry Report was published in December 2013; the Special Investigation and Prosecution Team trial which was a progeny of the COI report began exactly one year later.

Amazingly, expensively, that saga continues.

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

Caribbean News

Police De-Briefing with TCI Governor Daniel-Selvaratnam

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#TurksandCaicos#Anti-Crime, February 23rd, 2024 – De-briefing Acting Commissioner of Police Christopher Eyre held a meeting with Her Excellency the Governor Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam and Member of Parliament for Grand Turk North, the Hon. Otis Morris, today (February 21st ) at Police Headquarters, Airport Road, Providenciales.

The debriefing was to discuss concerns raised by residents during last evening’s Anti-Crime Town Hall meeting at the H.J Robinson High School, Grand Turk. Commissioner Eyre expressed his deep appreciation to Her Excellency and Hon Morris for their attendance, saying that work was already underway to address the community concerns.

Commissioner Eyre said: “I acknowledge the challenges raised and wish to assure you that the Executive of the RTCIPF remains steadfast in ensuring the TCI is safe. We listened to your concerns, and I assure you that rebuilding trust and strengthening community-policing relations are top priorities.“

The RTCIPF has taken a holistic approach in the fight against crime. Increased visibility, greater stakeholder collaborations and ongoing dialogue forums to appraise you will occur. We are accountable to you.”

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Caribbean News

Too much secrecy with Airport Tax increase says former Deputy Premier Sean Astwood

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Dana Malcolm
Staff Writer 

#TurksandCaicos#Tax, February 23rd, 2024 – “The TCIAA should not be allowed to announce and implement new or increased taxes or fees in this already difficult financial climate without more details,” says Sean Astwood, Former Deputy Premier regarding the increase in the  Airport Development Fee from $20 to $35 describing the increase as not proactive but premature.

Astwood said there were a number of questions that he believed every Turks and Caicos Islander should ask and have the right to know the answers to including ‘Why now?’

The Opposition PDM member pointed out that only one airport has international flights and it would soon undergo a change in structure, paired with the ‘unexplainable’ delay in the completion of the airport in South Caicos and the possibility of ongoing negotiations in relation to the one in North Caicos, he queried: ‘Why not wait to see what amount or step may be needed in facilitating services in these Airports before a hike in fees?’

“In this climate, taxpayers must have more information and the benefit of a complete picture from not just the TCIAA Chiefs but from the Premier himself. The people must know what the current earnings of the TCIAA is; how has the management of the Airports increased to warrant such a large increase; how much does it cost to operate all of these airports; what is the estimated increase in revenue and how will these monies be used,” the former DP said.

He also questioned the avalanche of resignations that had recently affected the TCIAA

“I have serious concerns with the Premier’s oversight of this matter knowing that the TCIAA is no doubt experiencing a major problem with the vast number of Turks and Caicos Islanders resigning from their positions including high level positions. This alone requires a more in-depth investigation.”

Astwood also demanded information about the ongoing canopy project at the Providenciales/Howard Hamilton International which should have been completed in less than six months but was running on two years.

“TCIAA has quickly developed a reputation for big spending recently and stalled projects. We need answers as taxpayers. Why now? How much do you intend to raise? How will it be used? The people deserve a response. In a “proactive” step, this information must be provided to the public before this increase is implemented,” he ended.

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Caribbean News

Justice system instructed to improve coordination 

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Dana Malcolm
Staff Writer 

#TurksandCaicos#Violence, February 23rd, 2024 – Violence exploded in the Turks and Caicos between January 26 and February 2nd, and with signs pointing to the involvement of recently released convicts the National Security Council is on a mission to reduce the risk of flare ups when offenders rejoin society.

The Police Force, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and other criminal Justice partners have now been instructed to review how they coordinate with each other and complete their specific roles to support case progression. Assessments about public safety in respect to offenders during bail hearings are also to be given keen attention.

The NSC is also planning to engage with the Judiciary as part of this review to help with delivering verdicts in a timely manner,

Called after the January 26 killing in Grand Turk which allegedly involved a former inmate, the meeting gathered law enforcement and other partners so that the NSC could get a sense of how effectively they were working with each other to ‘secure criminal justice outcomes.’

“The NSC— sought briefings on the effectiveness of liaison between the RTCIPF, the office of the DPP and wider criminal justice agencies in respect of case progression, including the assessments made to public safety that inform representations at bail hearings,” a statement revealed.

The information detailing the January 30th NSC meeting was released on February 2nd.

With senior leadership from the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force (RTCIPF), the TCI Regiment, TCI Border Force, HMP and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the room, the NSC looked into two incidents involving recently released inmates.

Two days after the meeting the NSC chairs had to be briefed again about another incident involving a former inmate where two men were left dead on February 1.

The Council headed jointly by Washington Misick, TCI Premier and Dileeni Daniel Selvaratnam, TCI Governor says the risk reduction strategies discussed in the meeting NSC will seek to address HMP exit arrangements and risks to public safety.

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