'It's a troubling issue'
Greg Christie says there is no transparency on rulings of Integrity Commission
Executive director of the Integrity Commission (IC) Greg Christie

Executive director of the Integrity Commission (IC) Greg Christie says he is concerned that the cover letters which indicate the rulings of the director of corruption prosecution (DCP), which accompany investigation reports tabled in Parliament, have gone unnoticed.

He said it is troubling that there is currently no transparency surrounding rulings as only a brief reference is made to the decision of the director of corruption prosecution (DCP) regarding whether corruption charges are to be brought against individuals against whom there are adverse findings.

"It's a troubling issue for more than one reason; there is no transparency. You have an investigation report of over 100 pages, there is a ruling, but we are not publishing the ruling. What is actually submitted is a two or three-liner, an indication of her ruling, but no details. The difficulty that I personally have had with that is that it really goes nowhere, because when it comes to Parliament what we have seen is that the core investigation is tabled, and there is no notice of what is in the transmittal letter," Christie said.

He was fielding questions from Member of Parliament (MP) for St Andrew South Eastern Julian Robinson at Wednesday's meeting of the parliamentary oversight committee for the commission.

The IC's executive team reiterated that there is nothing in law requiring the tabling of a report along with the ruling of the DCP.

Christie pointed out that the controversial report on Westcon tabled in February, referring Prime Minister Andrew Holness for corruption prosecution in relation to the award of contracts to Westcon Construction from 2006-2009, was the first time a full ruling of the DCP went to Parliament. Days after the report was laid it came to light that the DCP had determined that no corruption charges would be laid against the prime minister.

Christie said the commission is committed to have Parliament adjust the law to resolve this issue. "If the Parliament deems that the most appropriate resolution is to have the report tabled simultaneously with the ruling, the commission has absolutely no objection to it."

Advising that the board of the commission is scheduled to meet on April 3, he made it clear that until the issue is resolved, the commission's position is that it will not be tabling full rulings.

DCP Keisha Prince-Kameka explained that her ruling is not typically passed on for tabling as there is no such requirement. "Normally when discussion are had with regard to process concerning ruling, the reference is to the reasoning — the document that details the consideration and ultimately what the decision is — and up to that point the decision was taken that those rulings would not be tabled," she explained.

Clerk to the Houses Valrie Curtis advised the committee that, generally, cover letters are laid with reports, but these aren't usually referred to. "It is there, [but] we don't generally copy them, [although] members may ask for a copy. The letter is not read out in Parliament," she said.

Robinson argued that if there is an indication from the DCP, that is material to the report and affects the individuals implicated it must be shared at the same time as the report. "In any scenario where a report is referred to the DCP, that cover letter should explicitly state that this report has been referred to the DCP, and it should indicate whether the DCP has made her ruling about whether to proceed or not."

MP for St Catherine South Western Everald Warmington, who has called for, among other changes, the removal of prosecutorial powers from the IC, also agreed that in future all cover letters should accompany the reports, pointing out that the debacle with the Westcon report could have been avoided.

BY ALPHEA SUMNER Senior staff reporter alpheasaunders@jamaicaobserver.com

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