Dinwiddy refuses to testify
The Commission of Enquiry came to a screeching halt Wednesday when former Governor Bruce Dinwiddy refused to testify as scheduled.
Robert Jones, attorney for Cabinet Minister Charles Clifford, said he received notification from the commission of enquiry around 11am Tuesday that ‘former Governor Bruce Dinwiddy has decided not to give oral evidence’.
However, Mr. Dinwiddy produced a written statement to the commission early last week that Mr. Jones believes vindicates his client.
‘We’re disappointed the governor is not in a position to be examined, but in his statement he says Mr. Clifford made known to him various misgivings about [McKeeva] Bush’s actions,’ he said. ‘Although without the relevant paperwork, the governor couldn’t recall specifics.’
Last week, Commissioner Sir Richard Tucker said a video conference would be arranged to allow the relevant attorneys to ask Mr. Dinwiddy questions, rather than just accepting the written evidence. The commission of enquiry then had difficulty finding a site that could accommodate the video conference.
In the end, it was arranged to have the video conference held at the offices of Maples and Calder yesterday starting at 9am. However, because of space limitations, the media and public were not to be allowed to attend.
The commission turned down a media request to allow them to watch the proceedings on a video feed in another room.
Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush did not think the latest development hurt his stated position that Mr. Clifford took confidential government documents and revealed them to the public.
‘I really don’t know what to think of [Mr. Dinwiddy’s refusal to testify]’ he said. ‘But his letter still stands.’
Mr. Bush acknowledged Mr. Dinwiddy’s written letter of evidence stated Mr. Clifford did speak with him about various matters of concern.
‘But it gave the impression he did so casually and with no substance, and therefore he could move on it,’ he said. ‘He also stated he would not have approved [Mr. Clifford’s] going public with anything.’
Mr. Dinwiddy’s statement of evidence has not been circulated to the media as of yet.
The change in plans will now not allow Mr. Bush’s attorney Anthony Akiwumi to cross-examine Mr. Dinwiddy about his statement.
‘My view of the former governor giving evidence to the enquiry in what amounts to ‘in camera’ is that it is quite remarkable, particularly because of the enquiry’s avowed commitment to transparency and the principles of natural justice,’ Mr. Akiwumi said. ‘We are taken by surprise at this announcement because we had been told we would have a chance to be present and pose questions to the former governor.
‘We haven’t been given any explanation of why the position has changed.’
Questions submitted to the commission of enquiry about Mr. Dinwiddy’s reasons for refusing to testify and about how the process moves on from here were not answered by press time; however Mr. Jones said he understood a press release about the matter was to be issued Wednesday afternoon.