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Christie rejects claims Integrity Commission embarrassed PM with report

By Clinton McGregor/Prince Moore

Executive Director of the Integrity Commission Greg Christie on Wednesday rejected claims that the Commission embarrassed Prime Minister Andrew Holness in its tabling of a report in Parliament last month on the investigation into the awarding of contracts to Westcon Limited.

Mr. Christie also turned down claims by Member of Parliament Everald Warmington of political activists being on the staff of the Integrity Commission.

Responding to questions Wednesday from members of a joint select committee reviewing the Integrity Commission Act, Mr. Christie insisted that there was no bias on the part of the Commission in tabling its report separate from the ruling of the Director of Corruption Prosecution in the case involving Westcon.

The Integrity Commission stirred controversy last month when it tabled a report which suggested that the Prime Minister was under investigation in the Westcon matter.

But two days later, it was disclosed that the Director of Corruption Prosecution had ruled back in January that no charges will be laid against Mr. Holness.

Mr. Christie, who has been heavily criticised over his handling of the tabling of the report and subsequent release of the Corruption Prosecutor's ruling, maintained that the Commission was following the law as set out in the Integrity Commission Act. 

However, he admitted that since there was an issue with how the report and ruling were handled, the Commission "is committed to having the Parliament adjust the law to come up with a resolution to the issue". 

"So if it is that 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," he pointed out. 

Mr. Christie also defended tweets from his and the Integrity Commission's Twitter accounts about the conflict of interest probe involving Mr. Holness and the ruling by the Director of Corruption Prosecution that no charges should be laid in relation to the report.  

Pressed by Justice Minister Delroy Chuck about retweets before the ruling was made public, Mr. Christie said the Integrity Commission has historically retweeted stories on its investigations.

He said no effort was made to create mischief with the retweets. 

"The commission retweeted the Gleaner story on the 15th, the Jamaica Observer story, and on the same date, it retweeted the PM’s rejection of the report. The story that you mentioned about the Opposition Leader, that was also retweeted. Nationwide’s story on the rejection of the report was also retweeted on February 15th. And the next day, we retweeted the ruling – the Gleaner story on the ruling and the Observer story on the ruling.... and then I, on my personal Twitter account retweeted the IC stories in addition to the Reuters story on the matter," he outlined. 

'IC not being weakened'

Edmund Bartlett, Chairman of the Joint Select Committee, made it clear that the review of the operations of the Integrity Commission is not a sinister attempt to "emasculate" or weaken the ability of the Commission to investigate corrupt politicians.

"A review is about looking at all the elements that have gone into what now drives our process and to see how we can tweak it for improvement and to add value along the way," he suggested. 

Parliamentarians on both sides of the aisle have been highly critical of the Integrity Commission and its reporting on cases under investigation.