Justice Harrison finally confirms resignation from Integrity Commission

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff Reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

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Justice Karl Harrison yesterday confirmed that he has resigned from the Integrity Commission, just over three weeks after he refused to comment on the matter when Nationwide News Network put the question to him.

Nationwide had asked Harrison if it was true that he had sent his resignation letter to the governor general and that he would no longer be chairman or a member of the commission as of August 31.

Yesterday, Justice Harrison admitted that he had sent the letter from July and that his reason for leaving was “highly confidential”. However, pressed to elaborate, he explained that it was for personal reasons that he did not wish to discuss publicly.

“I have tendered my resignation. I am no longer the chairman of the commission or a member,” he said, adding that he was not pressured to leave.

Harrison, who also sits on the Electoral Commission of Jamaica and the Judicial Services Commission, is also deputy chairman of the General Legal Council's Accreditation Committee.

His resignation became effective a day before that of the commission's acting director of corruption prosecutions Dirk Harrison (no relation), who had not been seeing eye-to-eye with fellow commissioners for some time.

Dirk Harrison, who had been contractor general since 2013, was appointed to act in the newly created position of director of corruption prosecutions after the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) was subsumed into the Integrity Commission, which came into effect in February 2018.

The fact that he was not named as one of the five commissioners, a contention over his non-appointment to his acting job, as well as his position that the new commission's strategies were ineffective helped to widen the gulf between him and the commissioners.

In its first annual report tabled recently in Parliament, the commission said that it was in the process of recommending amendments to some key provisions in the Act, for it to operate smoothly and effectively to fulfil its mandate.

The commissioners also raised questions about their compensation, which requires the approval of the parliamentary oversight committee.

Yesterday, Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips reiterated his call for the immediate establishment of the parliamentary oversight committee. He said that it was an appropriate time for a review of the Act.

Phillips said that the resignation of Dirk Harrison a week ago, as well as the resignation of Justice Harrison, highlighted the crisis surrounding the body and signalled the need for an urgent review of the operations.

“The current uncertainty surrounding the Integrity Commission, in the face of public concerns about the cancer of corruption plaguing this government, must be urgently addressed,” Dr Phillips said.


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