Roseau, Dominica – March 19, 2009……………… The Integrity Commission has rejected the complaint of breaches of the Code of Conduct lodged by Mr. Lennox Linton against Prime Minister, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit. The complaint was filed on September 2, 2008, one day after The Integrity in Public Office Act, 2003 came into effect.
The decision on the compliant of breaches of the code of conduct was announced by the Integrity Commission in Press Release No.3/2009 issued on February 26, 2009.
In his letter, Mr. Linton complained to the Commission that Prime Minister, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit had breached paragraphs (d), (e), (g), and (i) of the Code of Conduct specified in the Second Schedule to the Integrity in Public Office Act, 2003.
At its meetings on February 12 and 18, 2009, the Commission considered the complaint by Mr. Linton together with his submissions made at the hearing on 30th December, 2008 and concluded that he had failed to convince the Commission that Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit had breached the Code of Conduct.
The Integrity Commission gave this reason for its decision:
“A person cannot be held to be in breach of the Code of Conduct before he became a person in public life within the meaning of the Act or before the Code of Conduct, specified in the Second Schedule, entered into force. The IPO Act, 2003, under which Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit became a person in public life only came into operation on the 1st day of September, 2008- a date authorised by the sovereign Parliament of the Commonwealth of Dominica, and the Act can only apply as from that date.
“The Commission is prohibited by the provisions of section 8(4) of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Dominica from retrospectively applying its powers to investigate actions which were not criminal offences before the Act came into force.
“The Commission must also be guided by and is required to apply the common law principle, nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege, which precludes the application of any subsequent legislation creating an offence, to any conduct that precedes it in time.
“The Commission is confronted by the fact that ‘the pattern of ministerial conduct’ by which Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit is alleged to have breached paragraphs (d), (e), (g) and (i) of Rule 1 of the Code of Conduct, spanned the period of four years before the Act entered into operation.
“The Commission, like any statutory authority endowed with statutory powers, can legally do only what the statute permits. And, what is not permitted by the statute, properly construed, is forbidden (A.G. v Great Eastern Railway (1880) 5 App. Cas. 473).”
In its decision on the complaint by Mr. Linton as announced in Press Release No.3 of 2009, the Commission also stated:
“In the premises, therefore, the Commission is constrained to hold:
i. that the provisions of the Integrity in Public Office Act, 2003 cannot apply retrospectively to the alleged conduct on the part of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, or that of any person in public life, if the alleged conduct complained off occurred before the Act came into operation;
ii. that, consequently, the complaint by Mr. Lennox Linton made in his letter to the Commission dated the 2nd day of September 2008, does not pertain to a matter that the Commission is empowered to deal with under the Act and is, therefore, rejected by the Commission as provided by section 32(1)(b) of the Integrity in Public Office Act, 2003;
iii. that having rejected the complaint, the person against whom the complaint was lodged has the right to institute legal proceedings against the complainant in accordance with the provisions of section 32(2) of the Act; and
iv. that in keeping with the decision of the Commission taken on the 23rd October 2008, this decision of the Commission will be communicated to the person in public life against whom the complaint has been made.
According to the Commission, Mr. Linton made forceful submissions regarding moral and ethical aspects of the law in relation to the complaint. The complainant urged that attention should “focus not only on an examination of the strict provisions of the law but to take these wider aspects into consideration”.
The Commission stated however that it “is constrained to consider and apply the provisions of the Integrity in Public Office Act, 2003 as enacted by our sovereign Parliament”.
The decision was signed by all seven members of the Integrity Commission.
The Chairman of the Integrity Commission is former Secretary to the Cabinet, Mr, Julian Johnson. The other members are: Sir. Brian Alleyne, former Acting Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court; Mrs. Patricia Inglis, Businesswoman; Mr. George Williams, former Dominica High Commissioner to the United Kingdom; Mr. Kelvin Felix, former Archbishop of Castries; Mr. Alick Lazare, former Financial Secretary; and Mr. Gerald Smith, Accountant..
The Chairman was appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. Two other members of the Commission were appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. Two members were appointed by the President on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition. One member was appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and one member was appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Dominica Bar Association.
The Integrity Commission has also rejected the complaint of breaches of the Code of Conduct lodged by the Citizens Forum for Good Governance against Hon. Ambrose George. The membership of Citizens Forum for Good Governance includes Mr. Lennox Linton, Mr. Severin Mckenzie, Mr. Atherton Martin and Mr. Angelo Alleyne.